Monday, November 19, 2018

Finding Pete (the web of coincidence, cntd)

 Arc1P014, paper, 11 X 7 1/2"

<Previous: The Web of Coincidence

Finding Pete (the web of coincidence cntd.)

In the last installation I wrote of meeting Dion Wright at the Sawdust Festival, and his recollection of Pete’s show at Mystic Arts World Gallery in Laguna Beach back in 1971. My encounter with Dion Wright  was the catalyst for this entire chain of events. 

I had met Dion Wright briefly over forty years back, and spoken to him for less than a half hour. I promised him that I’d find Pete Hampton, whom I hadn't seen in close to fifteen years. Where to start? 

And in the introductory post I mentioned that Jeff Goslowski and I had been Pete’s closest friends. The sad truth is that neither of us had seen Pete in over a decade’s time. But neither had we seen each other. All of us mentioned in the first post: Jeff G., Bob Diaz, Rick and Geri, myself, and of course, Pete had been friends from back in the 1960’s. 

But life’s currents pull us where they will. We all had all of us drifted apart, and gone on with our lives. I had lost contact with Bob, Pete, and Jeff, even though they lived close by. And then, one by one, they had all  moved, and I didn’t know where. My last contact with Rick and Geri had been in the early nineties. The last I’d heard of them they were somewhere in New Jersey.

 And out of nowhere, a few days after the Sawdust festival outing,  another long-lost friend from the old gang, Michael, showed up in my Facebarf feed in the “people you may know” thing. I got in touch with Mike. Mike got me in touch with Jeff. Jeff got me in touch with Richard and Geri. Rick told me that Pete was in a subsidized housing unit for seniors. The complex was in Brea, just five miles from my house.
I drove out to the apartment complex in Brea. It's a secured facility, so I had to speak with the unit manager. She would neither confirm, nor deny that Pete lived there. Legal stuff, I guess. But she took my phone number. A couple of days later I got a call. 


More from Archive 1

These pictures will wind up the first archive, all the loose, unboxed stuff. Next week we'll have a look at Archive 2.

Arc1P013 Telephonepolys, paper, 10 ½ X 8”

"In the Anise forests there were Little Gorder Telephonepolys that would sting you with their three stingers."

Pete created  many strange  creatures that lived deep in the corners of  his childhood world. Possibly from Lost Era show.

Arc1P025, matboard, 1980,  21 1/2 X 17"
 Looking east toward Turnbul Canyon

This next painting in the group was Pete's personal favorite piece. No matter where he moved he always had this painting on the wall.

 Arc1P039 “Water Trickling Over Lichens” matboard, 12 X 18”

 "Water trickling over lichens in Whittier Hills 1958-1962 Gone Now/ not around anymore, Run over by 
weeds now" 


Next. First visit after many years>

JW MacLean


Monday, November 12, 2018

The Web of Coincidence

August, 2017. My wife's friends invited us to go to the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach. I did not want to go. I like art and craft just fine, and the Sawdust Festival is the best of the best when it comes to that sort of thing. But I hate to drive; Laguna is a long ways from here, and besides, parking for the event is awful. I would have said No, but Mary’s friends were driving.
Despite the heavy development in South Orange County, Laguna Canyon Road looks much the same as it did fifty years ago. Still the sweeping off ramp from the Santa Ana Freeway, and still the winding road through the hills that ends on Pacific Coast Highway in artsy Laguna Beach.  The Sawdust Festival is held in a shady grove just inland from town.  As it turned out, the parking gods were with us. We found a space easily. We passed through the gate into the festival, and just about the first thing I noticed was a booth for metal sculptor, Dion Wright. Dion is one of the founders of the Sawdust. Later in the day I saw Dion there, talking with a woman who had been admiring his artwork. I stood to the side and waited for an opportunity to introduce myself. I had been to his house.


Now this visit was back  sometime around 1970/71, so my memory is sketchy on some of the details.  Pete and I probably took my car, because Pete’s cars were always on the verge of breaking down. I do recall making the trip to Laguna Canyon.  We went there to visit Dion, who was at the time, the curator at Mystic Arts World Gallery on Coast Highway there in Laguna. I remember Dion’s painting, Taxonomic Mandala, and the whimsical figures in metal. He was arranging for Pete to display his paintings at the gallery, and give a presentation.

I introduced myself, said, “I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but years ago I visited your home in the Canyon with an artist friend of mine, Pete Hampton.”
Dion lit up. It was clear within two sentences that he had a vivid memory of Pete.

Dion Wright recalls:

"He was a goofy-looking teen-ager, as far as I could tell, with hooded eyes and long straight hair, a sly smile, and that remarkable depth. I wondered if he were crazy or not, but since all artists are off-the-charts in some or several ways, I just chewed the fat with him, and let him reveal himself and what he was up to. As it happened, he was up to very much what I was up to, so there was a simpático from the get-go. I scheduled him for three weeks on the walls plus a couple of his other-worldly lecture-demonstrations. The first one was modestly attended, but the second, through word-of-mouth, rocked the rafters. His sound-effects were unique, and I can still hear him being a tree frog. I never knew him after that, but he had made a strong impression on me, which I'm happy to get to follow-up on now, even though I missed seeing him again in life, and even though he apparently was beset by dark forces... not an atypical screenplay among artists."

I will note here, that it was quite common for people to underestimate Pete's age by many years. Of course, Dion asked if I had knowledge of Pete, and his whereabouts.

I had to confess that I had not seen Pete in over fifteen years. Dion fixed me with a look that just froze time. He smiled, and asked if I would find out about Pete, and I promised I would. Somehow that quick promise had the gravity of a vow. I got Dion’s card, and email, and bought his book. 

<To be continued>

 Pictures from Archive 1

Perhaps Mike Doyle can identify the small insulator in the  introductory picture. This week's selection from Archive 1 includes the Banner picture, "Bygone Oil Fields" as well as some sketches, and early pieces. Oddly enough the fire pictures were in the lineup for this week. Because of the disturbing subject matter the last preview is deliberately left small. Notes or comments from Pete are in italics.

"Bygone Oil Fields"

Not for sale or at least….
$34,000  Now gone Whittier’s history

Another early work.
Pete's brother, Richard Hampton informs us that this would be:

 "...a likeness of Homer, my Grandfather on my fathers side. He had a colorful past, from his early days on Wall Street, to the many patents, and inventions."

 La Habra Heights

Like much of Southern California, the Whittier Hills, and Turnbul canyon in particular have  burned on more than one occasion. Pete poured his heartbreak and his rage into these paintings.

  "End of a World", 1967

text on back:

  poor coyote pups/ Peoples cruelty FIRE ANIMALS BURNING/ those kind of people belong in their graves! They’re no good

Next: Finding Pete