October 2014

“Running Down the Road”

Newsletter from Dana Forrester Automotive Art, 25th Edition, October 2014


Usually the photo above this newsletter features me in a significant Corvette or Corvette race car, but this year I couldn’t decide on a photo that was good enough. However, the photo above shows the storm damage of a very significant building in my life, Kirksville, Missouri’s Stamper Feed Building.

In the mid 1970s I was searching for a painting subject that could combine a very detailed realist image and show a unique element of design. Several artists who came before me were an influence: Andrew Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, and even Andy Warhol and Piet Mondrian. Many readers would question the last two names on the list, but their impact was as important as the other three.

I was taking a graduate class in Photography at what is now Truman State University in Kirksville during the summer of 1975. As I walked out of the alley along the downtown railroad tracks, I changed a roll of black and white film and turned around to see a series of advertising signs painted on an old brick building. The signs had been there during my entire youth only two blocks from my home, but I’d never noticed them. A series of overlapping Coca-Cola and Cigar signs were painted so as to create unusual abstract images. I decided to challenge myself to see if I could in fact create such a painting successfully — one that would be unique enough to compete in national watercolor exhibitions such as the American Watercolor Society. I entered the finished watercolor, and it was one of 300 accepted from 9,000 entrants. When my wife and I attended the exhibition in New York, my watercolor was hanging in the same gallery as the work of many famous painters like Andrew Wyeth and John Pike.

The Stamper Feed Building spawned the series of brick wall paintings that created a following for me nationwide. This year on Tuesday, September 9, a thunderstorm of heavy rain and high winds struck Kirksville, and the north wall of the old feed building collapsed. Much of the section with the Coca-Cola signs is still visible, along with a Wrigley Gum sign and a sign for a business that sold surreys, wagons, buggies and carriages—at least for now. I expect the Stamper building is not long for this world. A friend has offered to save some of the bricks from the wall, hopefully some that bear part of the painted signs.

The most interesting fact here is that even though this was the first brick wall sign that I discovered, in forty years of taking photographs of these historic signs, this is still the biggest and best of them all. This building with its signs has been the most important artistic discovery of my life. Almost my entire body of watercolor painting has been centered around buildings that I never would have noticed without my discovery of the Stamper Feed Building’s signs.

A Busy and Interesting 2014

This year began with my travel to Scottsdale, Arizona, once again for the Barrett-Jackson Auction. The auction tents and displays seemed to have doubled in size, accompanied by an increased attendance. What a thrill to see the 1967 Corvette L88 Coupe sell for $3.8 Million, as well as other million dollar cars. This event is always a great spot to renew friendships, meet new customers, and see an incredible collection of historic cars. I’ve said before that this is one event everyone should see at least once.

In the early morning hours of February 12, the now famous Corvette Museum Sinkhole swallowed eight Corvettes under the Yellow Sky Dome. Fortunately, it happened when no one was in the Museum, so no one was injured or killed. Since I’m on the Board of Directors of the Museum, I was notified of the collapse about 7:30 and immediately looked to the calendar to see if it was April Fool’s Day. The final evaluation is that the ceiling of a cave 100 feet below the floor of the museum was eroded by water and gave way with the chain reaction claiming the Corvettes.

The Staff of the Museum worked quickly to secure the facility, and engineers surveyed the rest of the building for safety. After much deliberation, the Board of Directors decided to repair the hole in its entirety, restore three of the Corvettes, and place the other five into a special display in unrestored condition. Engineers had estimated that to leave the Sinkhole partially open for tour viewing would cost an addition $1 Million or more, requiring numerous supports and beams and making it nearly impossible to see into the hole. This repair is a monumental task which will take months to do correctly. In the meantime, attendance at the NCM has almost doubled since the collapse of the sinkhole, providing the Museum with great public relations.

The Corvette Museum celebrated its 20th Anniversary during the Labor Day Weekend and cut the ribbon on the New Motorsports Park. I represented the NCRS (who bought one Acre) by driving on the Inaugural Lap in my Red Chevrolet Express Van because I couldn’t arrange for one of my Corvettes to be there. I saw an amazing number of C7 Corvettes in every color and option offered.

Many of you remember that I was the Chairman of the 2014 NCRS National Convention here in Kansas City in July, an indoor event at the Overland Park Convention Center. I worked to find new features for this event never seen before at an NCRS Convention. My main ideas were for a Special Historic Race Car display in significant numbers and a Salute to NCRS members who were Veterans, even more specifically Vietnam Veterans. As a Vietnam Vet, I’ve always been reluctant to let anyone know I served in that conflict since we were treated so badly by the public after we returned. Even during this past year, I had a lady criticize my service in Vietnam. Our convention’s tribute to all veterans was successful as we presented honor pins to about 150 vets and about 75 Vietnam Veterans.

I had the help of noted restorer Kevin Mackay in organizing the Racer’s Reunion portion of the Convention. Corvettes included were Irwin Kroiz’s #3 1968 Factory L88 Sebring Class Winner, as well as its sister car #2 which also ran in that race; Bill Skinner’s 1966 Daytona Race Car; C.J Titterington’s 1963 Z06; Lance Miller’s 1960 LeMans Class Winner; Kevin Mackay’s 1966 L88 Developmental Coupe which won Sebring and Daytona in 1966; Kevin Mackay’s 1967 L88 convertible; Kent Hussey’s 1969 L88 Race Corvette; Rick Hendrick’s #12 Owens Corning 1968 Corvette as well as his two Delmo Johnson race cars, a white 1962 and a 1963 Z06 Coupe; and John Neas’s #7 Sebring 1956 Racer, his 1956 SR-2 McLean Corvette, his 1956 Sebring Racer #1009, and his 1957 Race car. These cars made for a very impressive display, gathering a huge crowd as the race cars drove out of the Convention Center at the end of the week.

This year on the way to the Corvettes at Carlisle event, my friend Kent Miller and I drove to Philadelphia to view the Simeone Collection Museum. What an amazing collection of sports and racing cars! Approximately 100 cars in the exhibit include the Corvette Grand Sport 2, the Shelby Daytona Coupe #1, a pair of Mercedes Gull Wings, a 1938 BMW 328, a Bugatti Type 35, a 1933 Alfa Romeo Monza, a 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C, a 1953 Jaguar C-type and a Jaguar 1956 D-type, several Auburn Boat Tail Speedsters, a 1954 Ferrari 375MM, a 1956 Maserati 300S, a 1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, a 1970 Porsche 917, a 1966 Ford GT Mark II that raced at LeMans, and a 1952 Cunningham that won its class at LeMans in 1954. Each car is displayed in an historic. I’d highly recommend this Museum which I plan to see again next year.

New Works

It has been a great year for me to create significant paintings for customers as well as for myself. I’ve done a piece each of the last two years featuring a significant Chevrolet and Corvette dealership using Kerbeck of Atlantic City, N.J., and Cable-Dahmer Chevrolet of the Kansas City area this year. I’m currently searching for a dealership that would purchase the original and have its name used for 2015. My concept for next year is to show a series of 1965 Corvettes at a dealership facility with its name although the building may be fictional. This year’s “Magnificent Seven” features one Corvette of each generation either parked in front of the building or in an upstairs show window. This print series has proven to be as successful as the “Splits” image the year before which showed one of each color of a 1963 coupe and many colors of convertibles at Kerbeck during the fall of 1962.

The most enthusiastically received print this year is titled “The Resurrection” and shows the first Corvette ZR1 being lifted from the NCM Sinkhole. Initially I thought it in poor taste to do a painting about the near tragedy, but many customers kept recommending that I do one. The original watercolor was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hein of Des Moines at the NCRS Convention, and I donated 100% of that sale to the NCM’S Recovery Fund. I’ve created the Giclée print series which has been very popular, especially in the larger sizes. This image looks especially good on Canvas. Studying the photos the NCM staff sent of the sinkhole provided a unique angle unlike the photos seen on the web, and I’ve got to say it was challenging to actually paint dirt and make it look like dirt.

“Just Before Sebring” shows Kevin Mackay’s historic 1966 Corvette race car #9. This car was a Developmental L88 car driven directly from the St. Louis plant to Roger Penske Chevrolet to prepare for the races of the Daytona Continental and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Initially painted Rally Red from the factory, its color was changed to Roger Penske’s trademark Dark Blue just before its second race at Sebring. Incidentally, it won its class at both Daytona and Sebring. I’ve always wanted to paint this historic Corvette, so I began last December and used it as a demonstration piece during the first half of 2014 to show customers my process of painting. It was completed in time to debut at the NCRS Convention, where it was exhibited next to the actual car. It is available in all sizes of Giclée prints and two sizes of Giclée Canvas.

“Origin of the Species” is my first C7 print. It shows a Torch Red C7 Coupe parked at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in front of a fuel tank on which the new logo for C7 had been painted at the direction of then Plant Manager Dave Tatman. This was a commission piece for a long time customer and has been a big hit with owners of new C7 Corvettes. It is available in the same media as all other new prints.

“The Red Devil” is the newest in my Shelby Mustang Series. This particular Shelby is a 1966 GT 350 which was the only car supercharged from the factory. I’ve used the Shelby facility from that time period as the background. I have enjoyed creating the Shelby Series of paintings, especially finding significant background subjects relevant to the history of Shelby.

“1964 on the Plaza” is the official art for the 2014 NCRS National Convention in Kansas City. I offered the opportunity to sponsor the event art to any 1964 owner who purchased the original painting featuring his Corvette. Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Michael Johnson was the first to contact me to be the sponsor using his 1964. Another eight 1964 owners expressed interest after his was chosen. What a terrific response! Michael also sponsored the 14’ x 24’ banner. I will offer the same sponsorship opportunity to 1965 owners for the 2015 Convention in Denver. If interested please call me.

I have offered a similar program for Bloomington Gold Corvettes, and this year the owner of one of the Corvettes being inducted into the Great Hall committed to commission the painting of his car. Chuck Ungurean, who owns the C6R Corvette that won LeMans in 2009 as well as many other races, wanted his C6R pictured passing through the famous Dunlop bridge, a perfect setting for this Corvette. The work is titled “America’s Pride” and is also available in all sizes and media.

“Little Red Corvette” is another unique approach to Corvette art. When I photographed a black and silver solid axle Corvette at Bloomington Gold several years ago, I noticed the red car next to it on the field reflected in the side of the black car. As I moved around taking photos, I saw two reflections of the rear wheel of the red car and chose to use that photo for the painting. I did not create my traditional background, and I edited out the front of the car in order to focus on the reflection. This image has been more popular than I expected, especially in larger sized prints.

“Nassau Blue Trio” is another commissioned watercolor that became a print series. Roy Sinor, former NCRS Judging Chairman, wanted to celebrate the three Nassau Blue 1965 Corvettes that he had owned. He also wanted to see one of my famous brick wall signs, so we decided to use a series of Harley Davidson wall signs on top of earlier soda pop signs to create a ghost image with his name added to the top of the sign. I can also do this kind of personalized work for you. The prints are available in all sizes and media.

My final new work for this year is a close up I’ve wanted to do for years of a black 1967 427 Corvette with a Red Stinger. I have photographed several different Corvettes with this color combination over the years and liked the way the paint showed highs and lows of color in this subject. “The Red Stinger” debuted at the Bloomington Gold event in late June. Its prints have been quite successful, and the original painting is still available. The prints come in all sizes and media and look really strong in the 26” x 40” size Canvas.