"Amazing! Your Painting Survived!"
"And my daughter's painting also! That's the good news. Everything else is gone."
This was the text message I received from a collector of mine who lived in the Foothills of Santa Rosa, CA. upon returning to his home after the devastating fires consumed large swaths of eastern Sonoma County in October 2017. I had just recently completed the painting for him a few months prior as a challenge to incorporate the work of Matisse and Diebenkorn into my own work using my style. The collector was inspired by the recent Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and thought it might be interesting to see what I came up with. Since I was also familiar with the work of Robert Raushenberg and his 'Combines' I thought it would also be a great opportunity to see if I could combine their styles with my own to create a new 'Combine' What I came up with is called Cigar 76 but the collector and I affectionately refer to it as the 'Bermandiebenberg'.
I've been through some of the fire areas and have looked at the devastation. It really is an awesome sight and I don't mean that in a good way. As an architect I've seen fire damage before and that damage was typically isolated to a structure or two. In this case the fire reminded me of Oliver Reed's quote to Russel Crowe in Gladiator about things being 'shadows and dust' since that was the only way to describe what was left. If you were lucky, as was Cigar 76, the fire passed you by. If not everything was gone.
I sincerely hope this painting brings good luck in the future to my collector and any future heirs. Perhaps serendipity has spoken and it will be the impetus for a new series of paintings. We'll see.