Here in Los Angeles, it has become a thing for small art galleries to host group shows of art created to a common theme. Local artists have created art for displays themed to the work of Tim Burton, Hanna Barbera, The Wizard of Oz, How To Train Your Dragon, and even the collected works of J.J. Abrams’ films and television shows. This past Saturday I contributed a piece to the Planet of the Apes themed show hosted by the Creature Features gallery in Burbank, California.
Based on the original Charlton Heston movie from 1968, the 16x20" "Violet Monkeys" was created with watercolor and colored pencil.
Perhaps you would like to hear a little behind-the-scenes story about this particular piece? It wasn’t that I just decided to one day create a painting from a forty-six year old movie. There is a little more than that to tell…
When I first moved to California to work for Disney Feature Animation in 1997, it was right as Hercules was being released. Charlton Heston was the opening narrator for that film, and being a fan of his work, I struck up a correspondence friendship with him. I always loved that first Planet of the Apes film, so after a few years of writing back and forth with George Taylor (Heston’s character’s name), I created my first Planet of the Apes painting in his honor for a solo art show to be held at the studio. Mr. Heston was going to attend, but unfortunately didn’t make it.
This past February I was going through some boxes and found a letter from Mr. Heston he had sent after seeing a print of that original painting (which is currently on my website). He wrote such a complimentary letter that all these years later it touched me again. Almost immediately after finding that note, I was invited to participate in Creature Features’ Planet of the Apes themed art show. With the renewed encouragement from that old letter, it was time to reinvent that piece created eleven years ago that, quite frankly, could stand to have a make-over.
As the deadline for the show loomed, the realization set in that time was running out to create the new piece. I was about to take off on a lengthy river boat trip through Russia, and suddenly got the idea that a painting could be created during sailing days between ports. The initial drawing was created while at home in the States, then it was packed along with some watercolor paper, paints, brushes and colored pencils for travel to Russia.
While it wasn't the best studio in which to work, it was the most adventurous. This was the set-up in my room on board the riverboat that took me across Russia
Setting up a make-shift studio in my riverboat stateroom proved challenging due to the small, tight quarters. It became an adventure. I would open up my curtains, and watch the Russian countryside float by while sitting there working on purple gorillas and an orange Charlton Heston.
One day Julia, one of the ladies who worked the front desk, said to me out of the blue, “I like your violet monkeys.” I scratched my head trying to figure out what she was talking about at first. It turned out that she had come around the day before to deliver magazines about St. Petersburg to all our rooms and had seen the work-in-progress sitting there. She didn’t know what Planet of the Apes was, so she referred to the painting as “violet monkeys”. I liked the reference so much that the painting is now officially named Violet Monkeys.
Meet Julia, the Russian front desk worker who unknowingly named my "Violet Monkeys" painting.
So, there you have it. This is my first major piece to have been created abroad (while aboard no less), and it was done while traveling over 1000 miles across Russia’s rivers, lakes, and canals between Moscow and St. Petersburg! It had to get done, because the art show opening was the day after I returned to the United States!
This is me in front of the Tikhi Don ship (part of Grand Circle Travel's fleet) docked in St. Petersburg, Russia. This was my home and studio for the past two weeks.
While fighting with jet lag back in beautiful downtown Burbank, CA, I managed to get the framed art to the Creature Features gallery in just enough time for them to hang it for the evening’s opening. And boy, what an opening! Several hundred people were in attendance including fellow contributors Shag, Patrick Owsley, Ben Von Strawn, William Stout, and many others! A few enthusiastic fans even came dressed as characters from the movie. Taylor White and his Creature Features team put on a good show of fantastic art, and even costumes and props used in the classic productions!
One of two gallery rooms at Creature Features in Burbank, CA during the opening of the "Art of the Apes" group show.
You can see that "Violet Monkeys" is right at home amongst some other spiffy art.
Interspecie attendance to the show was welcomed.
ART FOR SALE
THE ORIGINAL 16X20″ WATERCOLOR & COLORED PENCIL PAINTING (UNFRAMED) – $2,000.00
A 13X16.5″ LIMITED EDITION (ONLY 25 MADE) ARCHIVAL PRINT ON WATERCOLOR PAPER HAND SIGNED AND NUMBERED (UNFRAMED) – $150.00
(FREE SHIPPING WITHIN THE UNITED STATES - ADDITIONAL FEES MAY APPLY FOR INTERNATIONAL)