There are a number of subjects I wanted to pull together with this new art piece AND this entry. You guys KNOW I can’t just write about ONE thing!
The “statue” is actually located in Omaha. I painted it with a different background than the houses and roads surrounding it. I pass by the creation six times a week right now as I go back and forth physical therapy. Once in a while I stop. Although it is displayed at the entrance to one of the area neighborhoods and there always seems to be traffic when I choose to visit, I still enjoy reminiscing as the cars drive by! The carving so very much reminds me of my daughter, the time we spent together both at home and the miles spent together in the semi-trucks I owned.
In those “days” she had several favorite pair of bib overalls she liked to wear. One pair in particular I remember, were “hot pink”. “What would you like to wear today Ash? My gibs Dad! My gibs!” Ashely didn’t have Tom-Boy written all over her, BUT she didn’t mind a good pair of bibs and some dirt! And she couldn’t say “bibs”!
Ashley was often with me when we’d pull off to the side of a back-road in some forlorn part of a state we were traveling through, not only to take Skip for a walk, but to allow me to run through several rolls of film. A barn, a silo, a skyline… She was also with me when we delivered in places like Boston, New York, Chicago, Portland, Oakland, Los Angeles, Miami. Yes, by the time Ashley was 13 years old, she had traveled more miles than most people will in their entire lifetime.
My friends know, Ashleys “baby book” started out in the traditional way. Photos of her mother and I during her pregnancy. Photos at the hospital (before and after). BUT, the project grew quickly and now consists of 14 large black metal foot-lockers, EACH containing 7, 6-inch ring binders. Each of those, chocked full of pictures, news clippings, school papers, her drawings and yes, thousands of photographs. Lots and lots of photographs. But it doesn’t stop there. While she slept, or played with Skip, I often wrote letters, addressed to her, which accompany the pictures in her “books”. For example: We once stopped at a rest area in Kansas. With cameras in hand, Ash and Skip ran and played while I prepared a lunch. If I recall, there are 50 or so photos, one of which inspired the painting below, shown on blank greeting cards.
This is an excerpt from the writing, which accompanies the photos in her “baby book”, and eventually, the painting she inspired: “…And then you asked me, “Dad? Do you remember that train we saw? You know? Where we had lunch?” Almost as quickly as I acknowledged our stop, you continued talking. “I’ve been dreaming about that train Dad. Except it’s flying in the air, like you see in those pictures of Santa Claus and the reindeer flying in front of the moon…” As the last echoes of the rail yard cross my mind, I have been thinking, “Some children still dream of trains…”
Another example of my daughters influence in my work and in my life, is this piece featured below. Along with the writing in her “baby book”; “Dear Ashley – I found this piece archived in the “One of these days I’ll finish this…” pile. The painting was sitting on a shelf in the office, along with the pile of photographs from the stop we made in Southern Utah. I remember collecting the flowers with you, and found the twenty-five pictures I’d grouped together for this work. The flowers you had picked, and patiently held while I photographed you and the bouquet are “pressed” and dried, in a page in this book. Later, when we were finished climbing around, you put the flowers in a “vase” (which was actually the cup from my thermos!), on the dashboard in the truck! I guess the ‘ole Kenworth has never looked so good!”
Our country depends on these semi-trucks, and you see them 24-7. But when you think of trucking you don’t always think of the people driving them. I don’t want this writing to evolve into sounding like the “Chamber of Commerce for the Trucking Industry”.
Basically, I wanted to share a piece of my life in trucking and share some of my fonder memories of my time there…. Where some of my art comes from. Many of us did more than simply run these 40 ton pieces of equipment up and down the road. Many of the loads I transported were EXTREMELY expensive. But, the most precious cargo I ever hauled around, was my daughter and the memories of those days. I’m grateful for the ability to put some of those “pictures” to paper….
Oh and yes. Two pair of Ashleys favorite “gibs” with matching tennis shoes are in one of her foot-lockers!
Thanks everyone, for listening. And safe travels.