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.
During my years of painting and selling, I had many requests for prints. The subjects ranged from outhouses to Fancy Theatres. As I collected my subjects and painted them, I started painting them in sets of four. One of those sets included Gas Pumps. They included Texaco, Shell, Gulf, American, Sinclair and Marathon. As you can see, my sets of four grew as more requests came in.
One of those pumps I found, was in central Indiana, north of Indianapolis. Many farmers had their own pumps for the farm equipment. This one was behind the farm house, out by the barn. The old pump up gas pump, with the glass top was still in pretty good condition, however you can tell they no longer use it, since the rubber filler hose was missing. It was called a “Gravity Pump”. You pumped the gas into the glass top, for the amount you wanted and then when you were ready, you opened the valve and the gravity forced the gas through the hose into the equipment. Several of my paintings included gravity pumps.
The Marathon pump was conveniently located, right by the entrance to the fields. With Winter at hand, there was not much activity.