Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Be a Sport

With the Olympics coming up and the summer season on us people have left the safety of their homes and ventured out into the streets and fields to play in the cloudshine. This is Oregon, there is no sunshine but that doesn’t stop Oregonians from getting out and doing sunny things.

And Oregonians are so polite, if there is a pedestrian wanting to cross a busy street the law and custom requires that you stop and let them. If the roads are over run with bicyclists, you don’t run them over you wait patiently while they slowly move from one congested, narrow road to another.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to ride over Libby Lane on a bicycle? Just doing it in a car with enough horsepower to move the average sailing ship seems difficult enough but on a pedal-powered bicycle…madness!

But be that as it may they do do it and you allow them to even though the corners on Libby are blind and coming around one and finding a bicycle right in front of your bumper is a great way to buy a new Mercedes for your heart specialist, you do it.

All of which is completely strange and foreign to a guy from Texas where the laws and the customs are sooooo different. Those striped areas at intersections you think are crosswalks are known as PAI. That’s right Pedestrian Aiming Isles, gives you better odds than if you had to hunt them down willy-nilly.

You see in Texas roadways are for four-wheeled vehicles and all others are required to yield. If you were to cross a street without using a crosswalk, (remember those aiming isles), you would be in the wrong if hit and likely to get both a trip to the hospital and a ticket, cross a major street at any place other than a crosswalk with the light and you’ll get run over and a ticket and a trip to the hospital.

Motorcycles fare no better but at least they have enough power to run away. Pedestrians, forgetaboutit. People on foot are considered a form of vermin and treated as you would a mole or gopher.

Bicycles on the other hand are even worse, they aren’t vermin they have taken the place of certain indigenous peoples are cannot be counted when you total up the notches on your bumper. Gunslinger, you have to shoot a real man to get a notch.
So I do find driving on Oregon streets a bit of a test of mental control. If I drift a little too close to a bicycle I have to grab for the brakes instead of lining up the hood ornament, so with all of the hard-working amateur athletes coming out of the woodwork, there re opportunities for picture making at every corner.

Remember Leroy Nieman has gone on to work a different venue and the opportunity for a sports artist is wide open.

Every street in Coos Bay and North Bend had a bicycle or two and they’ll move so slowly you can sketch them in oils and not worry about they paint drying out. Brave Libby if you dare, set up like a birder and hide in your blind and wait, a bicycle will come along. Try Charleston, a personal favorite cause they have food and a bakery where when you don’t see any bicycles you can get feed and keep the adventure from being a total bust.

Drive by SWOCC on a weekend, their soccer fields are full of guys waiting to be immortalized. You do remember that the US Women’s Olympic Soccer team lead by Captain America herself, Abby Wambach, start their campaign for gold on Wednesday July 25 at nine AM, broadcast on NBC, but who’s counting, try the locals and see if you can’t find  subject worth capturing.

What about the baseball diamonds ‘round every street corner? (Another quaint and curious place not found in Texas. Oh we do have them; they just don’t have anyone on them. Maybe it’s the hundred degree weather or maybe it’s like legendary University of Texas sports publicist Jones Ramsey said, “We have two sports here at UT, football and Spring football.”) Baseball is so slow it’s no challenge for plein air guys to catch all of the inaction.
Want something with movements? Take a road trip to Eugene. They do a bunch of track things there that just beg for art. I’ve never understood why a person would take a perfectly good road and run on it. But they do and what with Pre being a native and having set such an example I’m not surprised that people round here can’t wait to go and run a marathon.
Here’s the trick, it works for sports cars, the European kind where they actually drive on the streets and not round and round in a circle like the Indy guys and you can’t see the whole track for any one place so the trick should work for guys running on a street cause they are going to be a lot slower than a three liter Ferrari with twin-turbines running on nitro-methane and pulling up great chunks of pavement with Perelli tires so wide that three people can lay down and not cover all of the treads and so even though you can be everywhere at once if you pick  good spot like the finish line or a turn where all of the runners have to slow down or one of the check points where they slow down for water, food and to get on the spot psychotherapy, you should be able to get a lot of interesting images.
We have a wonderment of out door activities in our all too brief summer and it is a shame that more of the art community doesn’t go out and capture some of it for the long rainy winters.
Be a sport, get out and capture some of the wonders of Oregon’s summer so that when you get driven inside by the rains you’ll have a whole stack of sketches to work with.

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