"Ghosts of 1963: Salvador Dali, His Wife, The Witch and an Absolute Bomb"
66″ x 30″
My newest studio painting, recently finished during a very wet month in Humboldt. It was commissioned over a year ago by some collectors that have been slowly growing a collection of my work for several years now. I was excited to tackle it, especially considering the Monterey coastline and it's iconic beauty and historical significance in the history of art in California, being one of the early focal points for the California Impressionists of the early 20th century.
The collectors wanted a painting of the Ghost Tree on 17 Mile Drive. While doing research on just which gnarled old snag was "THE" Ghost Tree, I learned it's a stump that is mostly overlooked, except for a handy sign next to it marking the location of the tourist stop of the same name. It's on the inland side of the road, and upon arrival one is greeted immediately by an array of more impressive old snags scattered about among the granite boulders on the much more scenic ocean side of the road. Years ago, though, it was an impressive landmark on this stretch of dirt road. Grainy old postcards from the early days show this stump to have once been a large, sweeping river of weathered dying cypress standing out stark and white against a dark and lush green forest of living cypress trees.
While digging through these old postcards, I came across images of another behemoth of dying cypress standing out in the boulders directly overlooking the Pacific Ocean in all it's Monterific Glory. This one, dubbed the Witch Tree, captured the attention of many an artist and passerby until it blew down in a storm in 1964 or so. One fellow who was drawn to this surreal spectacle of arboreal struggle was the Surrealist himself, Salvador Dali. The Getty Archives contain a shot of him I couldn't get out of my head, sitting on a boulder with his wife, sketching the towering Witch Tree, no doubt drawn to it's gnarled form.
So I put him in the painting. And his wife. And the Witch Tree. Oh and a tribute to the massive waves ridden here until the area was declared off limits to all human recreation a few years ago. Those guys were nuts.