Pontiac GTO – The Judge.
I’m a 30 year old pushing 50 GenX early tech adopter artist with a love for those dinosaur mythological things that are disappearing at the rate of a social media photo filter cycle. What? I grew up watching the Brady Bunch and Hawaii 5-0 and M*A*S*H and WKRP and Barney Miller and the Mary Tyler Moore show. the cartoons were a collection of history that spanned decades. We watched the rise of punk on the 6 o’clock news. We watched fear of Satanism grip every mother across North America in an unsuccessful attempt to squash the already brilliantly bright flame of Heavy Metal. We ran amok through woods and neighbourhoods. We lay on our back under the dining room tables of every ranch style house talking endlessly on the phone with our friends. We unloaded quarters from our jean pockets into arcade games. We saved one for the pay phone. If we didn’t we’d call collect. We divided into groups and wore mis-matched uniforms of jean jackets and black t-shirts and wore short shorts and half top tops and pants with zippers on them and bell bottoms became tight rolls before fashion caught up with us. We grew our hair we cut our hair we shaved our heads. It was long in the back, short on the top, long in the front short in the back, long all over, shave all over, shaved on one side – whatever. We all more or less got along even though we weren’t supposed to.
My earliest childhood memories are riding around in the back of an old car that wasn’t that old, but the 1980’s made everything in the 1970’s and prior an instant classic. Our parents cars were boats. We rode in the open top back of pick up trucks. Wandered aimlessly across the vast landscape of the station wagon. I don’t remember sitting in a car seat. Ever. Cars were everything everywhere. They were giant, small, sporty, tough, business, pleasure, goofy. I grew to appreciate all of the variations in design and size and elegance and strength. A Volvo P1800ES in the parking lot was as rad as the the Chevy Camaro.
Everything had heavy impact on my artist brain, and in my age I started painting some of those things. Perhaps it is nostalgia, perhaps painting an iPhone doesn’t carry the same weight (yet) for me. Among all of the things, I started painting portraits of classic cars. I’ve described them as one of the largest anybody collectible. It’s not a stack of baseball cards tucked away in a box, it’s a giant piece of metal representing a history of innovation and style that transcends time. I don’t even know. You’re not reading this. Whenever I would spot a classic car, I would think ‘someone collected that – and preserving that’. It became more and more about the fact that they were slowly disappearing artifacts, though in a different way than a pay phone.
To the point. A couple who have been great (though rarely seen – sadly) friends whom I met through another friend at an automobile related design job I had back in the early days of my design career, have been supporters of my art career for a long time. A little while ago one of them (we’ll call her Penelope) asked me to paint (we’ll call him) Chet a Pontiac GTO – The Judge. I was into it. I had painted the odd Pontiac in the past, but never the Pontiac GTO The Judge. It was legend.
Starting off I played it pretty standard, and then went off the rails as I realized I needed to inject the work with something a little more unique than I had put into previous paintings. The background was wild and fun as it was, but I decided to drop in a giant The Judge logo as a little nod to 60’s and 70’s advertising. I thought they could handle it, though I was a little nervous that it was going to fall flat. I don’t think it did, and hope it didn’t. With each pass of paint, the Pontiac GTO emerged pretty easily. Once the logo was lined up, that too was keeping things interesting with each layer of oil paint. I really wanted it to have a ‘painted on the side of a building’ appeal. Still in good condition, but clearly aged. The end result became one of my personal favourite automobile painting I had done since starting the project almost a decade ago. I think Chet appreciated the gift from Penelope as much as I appreciated the love and support of friends.
There’s something special about painting for a friend. It can be a little stressful. I want all of my collectors to be happy, but commissioned work is a different beast altogether. There’s a balance to find between keeping the piece firmly embedded in the ‘I would have painted this like this’ and ensuring the satisfaction of the art collector. It’s easy to make a painting and know that if someone collects it – it’s because they like it. It’s more challenging when it’s a commissioned artwork. At the end of the day, I painted for myself with a hope that Chet and Penelope would like my new painting.
And that’s it. That’s the story of this Pontiac GTO – The Judge oil painting. Why are you still here?