Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Black Period

Black Grid One                          Black Grid Two

For this post I go back in time to 1972, when I was associated with a craft community in southwest England.
Recently extracted from my archive and rephotographed, these related paintings form a triptych.  There is a third canvas, if I can locate it !

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Abandoned Structures: Drained Pool 1977

Drained Pool 1977
From my earlier Lines & Tracks series, this painting can also be categorized under the more recent heading of Abandoned Structures.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Abandoned Structures: Presidio

Presidio (2006)

The Presidio, or fort, was the earliest Spanish structure built in Santa Barbara, founded in 1782. It was the last of four presidios erected in California designed to establish Spanish claims to the region.  Over time the fort was abandoned, the walls demolished and the site overbuilt by the city, with only two of the original adobe buildings surviving.

Starting in the 1960s the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation  embarked on a projects to restore as much of the original Presidio as possible.  Work has proceeded since, restoring and rebuilding many of the original structures notably  the chapel and many of the buildings on its northern side including sections of the defense walls

The most recent project has been to rebuild the north west corner to include the 10 foot high adobe wall. New concrete columns, as portrayed in my painting, are now in place to secure the wall, part of which has already been completed using adobe bricks made on site by volunteers. This reconstruction effort is a hopeful sign that society can stay the wholesale destruction of historic sites and structures.

In this painting I attempt to capture the dynamic process of restoration and rebirth, with lengths of steel rebar reaching out from the newly emerging concrete pillar as if to embrace the adobe walls to come.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Abandoned Structures: Bird Island

Bird Island (2005)

In October 2005, an old oil pier built in the 1930s and later stripped of its platform lay abandoned off the California coast near Santa Barbara, home only to seabirds.
Considered a hazardous eyesore, it was decided to demolish what was thought to be a dangerously decrepit structure. 

Bird Island, as it was dubbed, had other ideas. After repeated explosive attempts to topple the concrete caissons failed, heavy duty barges were eventually called in to pull them down.
Even the works of man, it seems, can defy man's efforts to destroy them.

In this painting I portrayed the intermediate stage of the structure between dismantling and total demolition, but in a setting amid calm waters that hints at the eventual rebirth of this industrial relic as a nature preserve.

Today, four large thin columns project from the water in a line just offshore that echoes the original structure. Each one has three triangular platforms pointing in a different direction and at a slightly different height—ideal for pelicans, cormorants and other sea birds looking for a place to rest or build a nest. 

Bird Island today (photo © Callie Bowdish)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Abandoned Structures: Etna

Etna 2004

In 2002 the hyperactive volcano Mount Etna, on the east coast of Sicily once again erupted, throwing up a huge ash column and sending lava flows down toward the city of Messina.

Although the threatened city was spared on this occasion, the cable car erected on the side of the mountain to transport visitors to the upper slopes was heavily damaged and later abandoned, leaving only the skeletal remains of its supporting stanchions—the works of man once again destroyed by the awesome forces of nature.

This painting shows the structure silhouetted against a stylized landscape.

images © Richard D. Perry. All rights reserved

Monday, October 29, 2012

Abandoned Structures: Lovejoy

With the Twin Tower and Iraq images in mind, starting in 2003 I embarked on a series of works, based on published accounts and pictures, of the remnants of various man made structures that had been abandoned because of war, natural disasters, industrial accidents, or just neglect and obsolescence, many scheduled for demolition.

In these images of endangered monuments, I sought to capture the often brief interval of transition between their abandonment and eventual demise or loss. And in some encouraging cases, a recasting of their history in a new form.

Each picture has its own story. Separate posts follow on four of these paintings and the prints derived from them.
click to enlarge
Lovejoy (2003)

This painting and the accompanying monoprints are based on the Lovejoy Columns.

From 1948 to 1952, Greek Immigrant and Artist Athanasios Efthimiou Stefopoulos, known locally as 'Tom', created a series of paintings on the pillars of the old Lovejoy Ramp in Portland Oregon. The paintings depict a mixture of Greek Mythology and Americana, painted in a folksy, calligraphic style.
In 1997, the Lovejoy Ramp was slated for demolition as the old rail yard was being rebuilt as a new neighborhood and extension of the Pearl District. A group of dedicated volunteers managed to convince the city to save not just the paintings but the entirety of the columns they were painted on, arguing that if the paintings alone were cut free, much of their magic would be lost.
With the old ramp demolished, the painted columns were carefully protected and cut free. Some have since been re-erected in the plaza of the Elizabeth Building at NW 10th and Flanders, in the Pearl District of Portland. 

In the painting and subsequent prints, as with my other "structure" works, I have tried to eyoke aspects of the columns during the process of demolition—in this case after the upper roadbed had been removed but while the column murals were still wrapped before their eventual preservation. 

Prints (2008 - 2009)


 all prints are for sale

images © Richard D. Perry

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nine Alive

Nine Alive (2002) 55"x35"  $3000.00

 In July 2002 the Quequeek mine in Somerset, Pa, suddenly flooded, trapping nine miners. Americans watched with bated breath as the rescue effort unfolded. After 72 hours the miners were miraculously recovered with only minor injuries.
Media coverage of this event resulted in a sequence of dramatic images.

For me, the images of flaring miners' lamps negotiating the scarred and blackened walls of the mine tunnels as the rescue played out were especially riveting. 
And from these textured images I created a painting (above) and then in 2004, a series of monoprints (below) further exploring and developing the pictorial variations of the scene.

These monoprints are one of a kind. No two are alike.
All are for sale @ $250 each unframed 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Iraq. Images of War

Starting in 2003, I composed a series of three paintings that drew on the avalanche of dramatic images in the media of the destructive events taking place in Iraq.

A Desert Storm 96"x 20" 
This first picture in the series (2003) recreates a panoramic vista of the initial American
advance into Iraq against a background of fire and sandstorms.

Fallujah (2004)
This gaunt, burnt out building on the outskirts of Fallujah was briefly occupied by
US forces early in the war, besieged by local insurgents and then finally abandoned.
The battle scarred facade, with gaping windows and partly erased graffiti seems an
appropriately battered monument to the cost of American and Iraqi hopes in the region.

 Mosul (2005)
A Navy Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by insurgents over Mosul. 
The smoking wreckage, shown here being lifted by crane, speaks to 
the destructive nature and waste, physically and spiritually, of this war.

images ©Richard D. Perry. all rights reserved

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Twin Towers

Twin Towers series

In 2001, shocked by the 9/11 disaster but at the same time inspired by the amazing images of destruction, I decided to resume painting with a series of canvases documenting the event based on published imagery. Several are illustrated below.

Twin Towers: The Strike (2002) nfs

The destruction of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11 2001 was truly horrifying in its human, social and physical aspects. The widespread documentation of this event and its aftermath produced a variety of graphic images of unprecedented power and intensity that time has only magnified. 
Twin Towers: The Collapse (2002)

Twin Towers: The Plume (2002)
Twin Towers: The Last Post (2002)
After the months long clearing of the World Trade Center site, one scarred but surviving basement column stood for a while before eventual removal

The Prints
In 2004/5 I followed up the paintings with a suite of color monoprints based on the first and last paintings: Twin Towers: the Strike and the Last Post


The Last Post

all prints are for sale

text and images ©Richard D. Perry All rights reserved

Monday, October 1, 2012


Teocalli One (1980)
Teocalli is the Aztec (nahuatl) term for temple or temple/pyramid.

The Aztec and Maya temple/pyramids across Mexico, many of which still stand and have been restored, were the focal monuments of the respective Mesoamerican cultures that thrived before the arrival of the Spaniards.

As is also documented, they were the locus of human sacrifice, either on a limited or large scale—a horrific and bloody spectacle that animated the accounts of the conquistadors—scenes of which the pristine, restored monuments we see today give little hint. 

Victims were sacrificed on the altars of the upper temples. Their hearts were extracted, still beating, from their bodies and burned in special containers amid clouds of copal incense. The corpses were then tumbled down the steep steps slick with blood—an essential element in pyramid design. 

In a couple of edgy paintings, loosely based on pyramidal structures, I attempted to convey some of the ambience that these monuments might have had in ancient times.

Teocalli Two: Fire, Blood and Copal (1980 & 2012)

©Richard D. Perry All rights reserved

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Old World New World

Diptych Plus Two (1972)
During the late 1980s and much of the 1990s, I took an extended break from painting in order to devote my energies to traveling in and writing about Mexico.  In addition to writing, I created a large number of architectural drawings of Mexican colonial monuments to illustrate a series of guide books that I subsequently published.

Old World, New World (2002)
After 2000 I returned to painting, initially focusing on themes and compositional elements from earlier work, but from a new perspective.
This composition and a series of related prints have a long gestation period.  
They follow from a review of divided canvases (diptychs and triptychs) I painted in the 1970's, in particular the painting Diptych Plus Two from 1972. 
I also made use of the directional lines that I had introduced in my "In the Beginning" group of paintings from the early 1980s.


 Then in 2003 and 2004 I completed a series of hand tinted monoprints exploring motifs from the 2002 painting shown above.

This Way Across (2003)
That Way Over (2004)
Half Way Along (2004)
images ©Richard D. Perry All rights reserved

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Other Horizons

Mesa Moonscape  (197
This is a group of canvases from the late 1970s in which I rang some changes on my earlier Horizon paintings with the addition of various landscape forms, human figures and other incidental objects, some based on images of real world incidents—an element that came to be the focal point of my work after 2000.

Mojave Incident  (197

Delta Highway  (197

Arco Circle  (1977)

Little Missouri River Criss-Cross (1978)
images © Richard D Perry.  All rights reserved