The Shocker
       
     
The Snowshoe Mailman
       
     
The Gas Jockey
       
     
The Typesetter
       
     
The Newsboy
       
     
The Crosscut Sawyers
       
     
The Flatboatman
       
     
The Ice Cutter II
       
     
The Lamplighter III
       
     
The Airship Rigger
       
     
The Town Crier
       
     
The Bertillon System
       
     
The Plague Doctor
       
     
The Fire Lookout
       
     
The Fire Lookout II
       
     
The Fire Lookout III
       
     
The Computer
       
     
The Daguerreotypist
       
     
The Ratcatcher
       
     
The Soda Jerk
       
     
The Wing Walker
       
     
The Barnstormer
       
     
The Bombardier
       
     
The Powder Monkey
       
     
The Harvesters
       
     
The Stoker
       
     
The War Tuba II
       
     
The Harvester
       
     
The Shocker
       
     
The Shocker

16x20 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Beneath a big prairie sky, The Shocker would gather the harvested stalks of grain into bundles and stack them so that they could dry in the hot autumn sun. Harvesting has been an ever-evolving process throughout history and The Shocker gives a glimpse into one aspect of that task. Shocking was replaced, in part, by the invention of the horse powered hay press.

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The Snowshoe Mailman
       
     
The Snowshoe Mailman

18x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Snowshoe Thompson was an infamous mailman who ferried mail and goods across the Sierra Nevada Mountains on his trusty ten foot long oak skis (they called them snowshoes back then). This crazy Norwegian would top speeds of 60mph and the ninety mile journey only took him 3 days. He was the fastest human on the planet at that time and a true Samaritan, who never received much compensation for his harrowing journeys.

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The Gas Jockey
       
     
The Gas Jockey

16x20 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

In the early days of the automobile, full-service gas stations were commonplace and gas jockeys were the jovial workers that served as their lifeblood. From pumping gas, checking the oil and cleaning the windows, gas station attendants would take care of all of the motorists needs with a skip in their step. A series of oil embargos in the 1970's made prices soar and pinched the majority of full-service stations out of business, even though they remain legally required in New Jersey and Oregon.

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The Typesetter
       
     
The Typesetter

16x20 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

With his trusty composing stick in his left hand, The Typesetter would carefully set each individual letter of whatever he was tasked with printing for the day. This was a laborious way to print multiple copies of text, but the best way at the time. In 1884, Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the linotype machine, which could easily and quickly set whole lines of type using a 90-character keyboard. His invention revolutionized the art of printing.

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The Newsboy
       
     
The Newsboy

6x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

From the mid-19th to the early 20th century, newsboys or 'newsies' were the main means to get a newspaper in the United States. The newspaper vending machine (invented in 1947) and the implementation of child labor laws led to the demise of these young workers' position. 

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The Crosscut Sawyers
       
     
The Crosscut Sawyers

36x60 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Back in the 1850's, lumberjacks began to harvest the giant redwoods of Northwestern California to supply raw materials needed to house all of the 49ers heading west to strike it rich. Two-man crosscut saws were the most efficient means to fell these massive trees. First, a notch would be made on the side of the tree facing the direction they wanted it to fall, a laborious task done using axes. Next, the loggers would begin cutting a kerf on the opposite side of the tree using a long crosscut felling saw or even two saws brazed together. If the kerf began to close as they sawed, wedges would be inserted to keep it open. Sawyers would stand on spring boards driven into the tree to avoid the rotted lumber often present in the stumps of large trees. The advent of the chainsaw in the early 20th century led to much more efficient logging and crosscut saws were largely made obsolete by the 1950's. In 1968 Congress created the Redwood National Park to protect the remaining 10 percent of original redwood stands after heavy logging. Interestingly enough, the first chainsaw was invented in 1830 by a German surgeon who used the small device to cut bone.

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The Flatboatman
       
     
The Flatboatman

12x12 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Flatboats were the main means of getting goods to the market for many farmers in the early 1800's and at their height, nearly 3,000 flatboatmen navigated the Mississippi River every year. Often, farmers would build a flatboat to transport their crops and livestock to the busy port of New Orleans and dismantle it once unloaded, selling the scrap lumber. Abraham Lincoln witnessed his first slave auction while floating down the river on a flatboat, an experience that would forever change him. Steamboats initially led to a boom in flatboats as they made the return upstream journey much easier, but eventually they overtook the trade, as they were able to transport good both up and down stream.

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The Ice Cutter II
       
     
The Ice Cutter II

24x36 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Turning cold temperatures into a profit, The Ice Cutter would risk treading on frozen lakes and rivers to cut ice blocks from their surface. The ice industry was booming for much of the 19th and 20th century with ice blocks being delivered to most households until the invention of Freon in the 1920's made household refrigeration commonplace.

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The Lamplighter III
       
     
The Lamplighter III

12x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

The streets at night have always been a treacherous place for folks to walk about and part of a town's defense against nighttime crime and violence is to illuminate the streets with lamps. The Lamplighter was the bringer of light, spreading illumination through the city streets as dusk turned to nights. Most lamplighters would utilize a pole or ladder to light the street lamps, but there were the crazy few who built the first tall bikes to make their job more enjoyable. Lamplighters were eventually made obsolete by self-lighting gas lamps and the spread of electricity, but their symbolism as harbingers of light and safety remains.

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The Airship Rigger
       
     
The Airship Rigger

12x16 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Beginning in the 1920's, the US Navy began to build and use airships for anti-submarine warfare. These large dirigibles were manned by crews of airship riggers who were responsible for maintaining and repairing the metal framework and gas cells during flight. During WWII, airships were used to escort convoys in the Atlantic and proved to be an effective deterrent to submarine attacks. They were eventually replaced by improvements in airplane design as well as radar and sonar.

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The Town Crier
       
     
The Town Crier

12x16 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Bellowing his way through the streets of Bamburg, Germany, the Town Crier would relay royal messages to the common folk. Town Crier's were treated as royalty and the phrase, "don't shoot the messenger" was taken very seriously. A common proclamation in Germany (as depicted) was to forbid defecating in the river the day before brewing. Town Criers were prominent for centuries and still exist today in certain areas, but were mainly replaced by the radio as a means to communicate news to the masses.

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The Bertillon System
       
     
The Bertillon System

16x20 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Alphonse Bertillon was a French police officer who invented a system of physical measurements to identify criminals called the Bertillon System. This was the first scientific system used by police for identification. Before that, only names and photographs were used. Bertillon revolutionized and standardized an important part of a forensic science. His system was eventually supplanted by fingerprinting in the early 1900's.

$1900 > Contact me about the original

The Plague Doctor
       
     
The Plague Doctor

6x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Plague doctors sprang up during epidemics in medieval Europe to treat the sick. They were not normally medically trained professionals and often were second-rate doctors unable to otherwise run a successful medical business. Plague doctors wore a variety of garments, but many chose a protective gown made of heavy waxed fabric and a beak-like mask with glass eye openings. The beak would hold aromatic herbs and straw, which was believed to protect the doctor from "bad air". They would also brandish a long, wooden cane to examine the patients without touching them. It was also a means of repenting sins, as many believed that the plague killed one-third of Europe during its 14th century reign and ended due to improved hygiene, the burning of the dead rather than burial, and the implementation of quarantine, as symbolized by the yellow and black checkered flag on the mast of the ship in the painting.

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The Fire Lookout
       
     
The Fire Lookout

36x48 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Fire lookouts (and their towers) predate the United States Forest Service and largely came into existence after the Great Fire of 1910 (arguably the largest forest fire in recorded history), which burned 3,000,000 acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana. Many fire lookout towers were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, like the Harney Peak lookout tower depicted. This stone building sits atop Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota and a destination that my family and I hiked to many times during my summers in the beautiful Black Hills. Spotting plumes of smoke, tracking lightning strikes and directing firefighters to the fires were among fire lookouts' duties. Although some are still staffed, the fire lookout has largely been replaced by cameras and aircraft.

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The Fire Lookout II
       
     
The Fire Lookout II

18x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Fire lookouts (and their towers) predate the United States Forest Service and largely came into existence after after the Great Fire of 1910 (arguably the largest forest fire in recorded history), which burned 3,000,000 acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana. Spotting plumes of smoke, tracking lightning strikes and directing firefighters to the fires were among their duties. Many fire lookouts would use an Osborne Fire Finder (as depicted) to pinpoint the location of a blaze. Additionally, many woman held the post of fire lookout and Helen Dowe, one of the first ever, sat atop Devil's Head in the Pike National Forest in Colorado from 1918-1921. Although some are still staffed, the fire lookout has largely been replaced by cameras and aircraft.

$975 > Contact me about the original

The Fire Lookout III
       
     
The Fire Lookout III

24x36 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Fire lookouts (and their towers) predate the United States Forest Service and largely came into existence after the Great Fire of 1910 (arguably the largest forest fire in recorded history), which burned 3,000,000 acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana. Spotting plumes of smoke, tracking lightning strikes and directing firefighters to the fires were among their duties. Although some are still staffed, the fire lookout has largely been replaced by cameras and aircraft.

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The Computer
       
     
The Computer

18x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Before the dawn of electronic computers, complex calculations were done by organized human computing. One such effort was led by Edward Charles Pickering, an astronomer who hired a group of women computers at Harvard in the late 1800's. The group was known as "Pickering's Harem" or, more respectfully, the Harvard Computers and many in the group proved to be brilliant. Henrietta Swam Leavitt's discovery allowed astronomers to measure the distance to faraway galaxies. Even though some of Pickering's female staff were astronomy graduates, their wages were similar to those of unskilled labored.

$975 > Contact me about the original

The Daguerreotypist
       
     
The Daguerreotypist

18x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Daguerreotype was the very first photographic process and was invented in 1839 by Louis-Jaques-Mande Daguerre of France. It was all the rage in the newly formed world of capturing photos and remained that way for twenty years until an easier process was invented (ambrotype). Daguerreotype involved silver plated copper sheets exposed to light after being treated with halogen fumes. It was this process which allowed Johann Berkowski, a skilled daguerreotypist working at the Royal Observatory in modern day Kaliningrad, Russia, to capture the very first photograph of a solar eclipse on July 28, 1851.

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The Ratcatcher
       
     
The Ratcatcher

6x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Ratcatchers were employed primarily in Europe to prevent the spread of diseases to man and to protect food supplies, which a mischief of rats could quickly devour. One well-known ratcatcher was Jack Black, who gained notoriety when he was featured in an article by a famous London reporter. Black was known for his attire, in particular the leather sash he wore, which was adorned with cast-iron rats. He would keep and breed uniquely colored rats that he caught and sell them to "well-bred young ladies to keep in squirrel cages". He was also a successful dog breeder and utilized his trusty Black and Tan terrier named Billy to help him catch vermin. Ratcatchers eventually evolved into modern pest control, but was initially replaced by the widespread availability of rat traps.

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The Soda Jerk
       
     
The Soda Jerk

24x36 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Soda jerks operated soda fountains in drugstores and ice cream parlors, serving up flavored soda water and ice cream sodas. The title came from the jerking action used while working the handle of the soda fountain. Soda jerks reached their peak in the 1940s and the position was highly coveted. As ice cream parlors gave way to the popularity of drive-ins and fast food stands, the soda jerk and his fountain faded into obscurity.

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The Wing Walker
       
     
The Wing Walker

24x36 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Wing walkers were one type of barnstormer, aerial daredevils who pushed the limits of what could be done with a plane in the 1920's. Curtiss "Jenny" biplanes were the industry standard and wing walkers would walk across the top wing with bags over their heads or hang from tethers dangling from the bottom wing. Barnstormers became mostly obsolete in the 1930's when a series of high-profile crashes led to tougher safety regulations, which were virtually impossible for barnstormers to meet.

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The Barnstormer
       
     
The Barnstormer

12x16 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Barnstormers were aerial daredevils who delighted crowds with their stunts and bravery in the 1920's. Pushing their Curtiss "Jenny" biplanes to the limit, they would walk on the wings, perform loop-the-loops and even parachute from their planes (as depicted). They got their name from their tendency to fly over a town to garner attention and land in a nearby field for an impromptu air show. Increasingly dangerous tricks and some highly publicized accidents led to new safety regulations, which were virtually impossible for barnstormers to meet.

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The Bombardier
       
     
The Bombardier

12x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Bombardiers were crew members of bomber aircraft responsible for aiming and dropping aerial bombs. They often took control of the plane during the bombing run, using a bombsight such as the Norden bombsight, which was connected to the autopilot of the plane. Bombardiers were usually seated in the nose of the aircraft to give them the best vantage point from which to aim. This painting was inspired by the incredible true story recounted in Unbroken, a book about one very special WWII bombardier. Bombardiers were eventually replaced by smart bombs, which are seen dropping from the first plane in the background. The Fritz X was developed by the Germans while the AZON was created by the Allied Forces, both in 1943.

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The Powder Monkey
       
     
The Powder Monkey

6x24 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Powder monkeys were young seamen (typically 12-14 year olds) who were in charge of ferrying gunpowder to the ship's large artillery guns during battle. Their short stature and agility allowed them to be sheltered from the enemy ship's sharp shooters by the gunwale while carrying the heavy cartridges to the cannons. Nowadays, elevators are the primary means to move ammunition about warships.

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The Harvesters
       
     
The Harvesters

30x60 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained basswood panel

Before the advent of sophisticated farm machinery such as the combine and thresher, harvesting was the most labor-intensive activity of the growing season. The grain had to be reaped, shocked (bundled), dried in the sun and threshed (separating the grain from stalks and husks) manually by beating the grain or making livestock walk on it. Hand threshing was particularly laborious, with one-quarter of agricultural labor devoted to it before the invention of the threshing machine in 1786.

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The Stoker
       
     
The Stoker

36x60 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Stokers were responsible for keeping the steam engine's hungry firebox satisfied with heaping shovels full of coal. This fire would heat water, creating steam and driving pistons attached to the gigantic wheels of steam locomotives. Stokers were also called firemen and their job was one of extreme physical labor, shoveling coal into the firebox for hours on end. The invention of the mechanical stoker, a screw conveyor which fed coal into the firebox, largely replaced the need to manually stoke the fire.

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The War Tuba II
       
     
The War Tuba II

60x30 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained basswood panel

During WWI, airplane warfare began to play a major role in the fighting and defenses against aerial attacks were in their infancy. The War Tuba was an acoustic device used to listen for loud engines of approaching planes in order to prepare for the impending assault from the sky. This predated radar, which proved to be a more effective means of aircraft detection during WWII.

$4000 > Contact me about the original

The Harvester
       
     
The Harvester

24x36 inches
acrylic, watercolor paper, kraft paper on stained birch panel

Before the advent of sophisticated farm machinery such as the combine and thresher, harvesting was the most labor-intensive activity of the growing season. The grain had to be reaped, shocked (bundled), dried in the sun and threshed (separating the grain from stalks and husks) manually by beating the grain or making livestock walk on it. Hand threshing was particularly laborious, with one-quarter of agricultural labor devoted to it before the invention of the threshing machine in 1786.

$2400 > Contact me about the original