While looking for some antique items for subject material for paintings, we stopped at a broken down old farm house along the road, we called the junk shop, because there was not much in the way of valuable antiques there.. The sign painted on old old piece of wood said, “Antiques”. The shop was located along a 2-lane road on central Georgia near the town of Pine Mountain.
There was nobody around as we walked around the outside of the building. As we were behind the home, a car drove up, and it was the owner of the property. As usual, the southern folks were as friendly and hospitable. I told him what our intentions were, that we weren’t going to buy anything, just shoot pictures of a few of the items he had laying around. He proceeded to give us a tour of the inside, showing us things that he thought we would be interested in.
After shooting the photos, we said our goodbye’s and we were on our way to the next art show. I painted several paintings from that junk shop. I call my set “Items”, which includes, the “Milk Can”, “The Lantern”, “Wickers End” (which is a broken down cane chair on the back porch) and of course this painting called the “Corner Shelf”. Sometimes I add another painting called “”The Broken Swing”.
Many times I will add something extra in my paintings. “Corner Shelf” is no exception. I put a couple of my artists brushes in the jar near the back of the painting.
While exhibiting in the area of St. Louis, I decided to see what they had in their area that was nostalgic. After some discussion with area locals, found that the oldest Steak and Shake still in existence, was just off of Hwy 55, in St. Louis. Of course I had to check it out, along with some other possible places.
The Steak and Shake picture drew attention wherever I went. I put the cars into the painting to add to the time period of the building. Many people bought prints, because of the building and others for the classic cars.
It was the 1950’s, when Neon, Milk Shakes and cool cars came on the scene. In the midst of it all, we had heard of a new restaurant that had burgers, fries and shakes. You couldn’t go inside to eat and they didn’t have car hops that brought it out to your car. The way it worked was, you walked up to the window on the outside of the building and ordered your food, they prepared it, put it in a bag and you either sat in your car or took it home to eat. They called it “Fast Food”. The even had a sign that told you how many hamburgers they had sold.
These places started in Chicago and were popping up in other states. In January of 1959, the first local McDonald’s opened just one block from the dividing line between South Bend and Mishawaka, Indiana, on Lincolnway West on the Mishawaka side.
As I was traveling and painting for Art Shows, the pubic was excited about my diner and restaurant pictures. Since I did several shows in this area, and was raised in South Bend, I decided to include McDonald, as it would have looked, when it first opened here.
While on the road in in Louisville Kentucky, at St. James Court, one of the top shows in the country, we were approached by a family, who’s father had just retired and sold his collection of a large number of McDonald’s restaurants he had built up, during his restaurant years. The children wanted to pool their money and buy him the painting as a retirement gift.
The McDonald’s painting was my first experience with Classic Cars and Neon, which became a popular theme in later paintings.
During my travels, looking for good nostalgic material, I would make an effort to drive down some of the back roads. As I was driving down Mars Hill Road, near Acworth, where I was going to exhibit in an Arts & Crafts festival in the near future, I came across this old barn. It was directly across the gravel road from a beautiful home that had been there for years, but kept up well in appearance.
When I see things like the barn, I let my imagination wander, so here’s where it lead me: The husband or father smoked, but was not allowed to smoke in the house, so he had to go outside. Across the street he would go and would soon be surrounded with all his friends, as they laugh and tell stories and all their tall tales that keep the conversations lively.
After finishing the painting, I was exhibiting at the Acworth Beach Festival and the owners of the home and barn showed up and revealed the truth. The man was a prominent person and a member of the local fire department. The barn was used mostly for storage, but I liked my story better.
The painting was Evelyn’s favorite painting, but was eventually sold. Oops!
Since I lived in South Bend, Indiana, I exhibited in shows in the area and wanted to capture some of the history of South Bend. The South Shore Line was very popular in earlier years, which ran from South Bend to Chicago. The South Bend station was located downtown across from the LaSalle Hotel. The South Shore still runs, but no longer from downtown. I wanted to capture the end of the line, as the passengers exited the train. It was raining so I could pick up reflections from the lights. I even put a Studebaker in the background, since that was the main industry there, at the time. I hope you enjoyed your trip back in time.
I was due to exhibit in an Art Show in Rome, Georgia and then in Cave Springs, so I visited the area to see what I could find in the way of Nostalgia. Cave Springs was a quaint little town in which I noticed a barber shop, just off the square. It had the letters painted on the windows, which you could see through to the inside.
We went inside the shop and I immediately noticed several porcelain barber chairs, in which one was filled with a young man, who was being given a haircut by the only barber in the shop. Just as he finished and the gentleman left the shop, we asked the barber if we could ask him some questions and told him what my intentions were. His reply was, “You can ask me anything but my age.”
While traveling around the country, I was always on the lookout for places and things of nostalgia. One Sunday afternoon, while driving down a 2 lane road in east-central Georgia, we passed through a community which may have been too small to call a town, but they had a building, with a row of stores on the north side of the road. One was an antique shop, so we stopped, camera in hand. It was obvious they were closed, because there were no cars in sight and no people. As I peered in the windows, I saw several old things that would interest me. One was an old carousel horse and another, an upright old piano covered with dust.
I took pictures of both items, but since they were closed, I shot them through the window, hence the painting is called “Piano through a Window”.
While researching local landmarks in my home town of South Bend, Indiana, I recreated the Old Palace theatre, to make it look like it did in its thriving era. I started a series of the old theatres that were built during the 1920’s, which included the Chicago Theatre. Later I discovered the Loew’s Jersey, which, at the time was in disrepair was closed in 1986.
The fascination to me was the animated clock outside the building, which had two statues above the clock, St. George and a Dragon. There were red light bulbs in the dragons mouth which, when lit, simulated fire. On the quarter hour, the clock would chime and the statures would perform and the knight would approach the dragon and tip forward with his lance simulating a lunge.
The theatre was remodeled and reopened in 1996.