Monday, August 18, 2008

My Grandpa Ray Marshall

My paternal grandfather Ray Marshall was an incredibly calm, sweet man. In all my memories of him, he's calmly doing something for me - spreading icing on a toaster pastry for me, fixing my bike tire - always with utter mellow-ness, and always, always with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. I actually liked the smoky smell that always permeated him - the only person whom I can say that about!

Grandpa was a total salt-of-the-earth guy, grew up on a Kansas farm and knew how to work hard. He went on to work for decades at Braniff Airlines, and Braniff was the total center of the universe for him and Grandma. At 95, Grandma still talks about all the gardening clubs and card games that were formed with her fellow Braniff brides. Working for an airline allowed Grandma and Grandpa to travel more than the average couple during the 1950s and '60s. I loved hearing their stories about South America, Hawaii and beyond.

This photo from 1951 shows Ray with some Braniff colleagues...that must be an important document! Even though this was taken 20 years before I was born, this is exactly how I remember Grandpa - wearing a shirt and tie, totally patient and unflappable, and probably plotting his next smoke. He's been gone for almost 20 years now, but I can still smell his sweet smoky-ness.

Thanks to the internet, Braniff is able to honor its former employees. Click here to read the bio that my Grandma Vada wrote about Grandpa.

It's a great place to check out the airline's history too - this is one of the airplanes painted in a design by Alexander Calder. Groovy!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Todd Brainard, take me away!

Well, Todd Brainard's painting, that is. I'm so frustrated by so many things right now - my small-thinking city trying to close the Main Library, my inept congressman working his good-ol-boys machine against his incredibly worthy opponent, and another 116 days with this buffoon of a president - but I can always count on artwork to take my mind to a happy place. I haven't seen this painting in person yet, but even the digital version is so gorgeous I can't take my eyes off of it. The painter is none other than Long Beach denizen Todd Brainard, whose work has always reminded me of a 21st Century Edward Hopper. The incredible detail, acidic colors and mysterious viewpoints are truly hypnotic. Thank you, Todd, for reminding me of the beauty in the world!

This painting is part of a group show right now at Gallery 33 in Long Beach.