Montecito Peak March 25, 2011

I think it was for Ray Strong's 95th Birthday we in the Santa Barbara OAK Group, gathered for Ray's birthday celebration up on East Camino Cielo, behind Montecito. This was the painting I painted on that occasion.

It was a glorious day. We all painted landscapes, even Ray. Patricia Chidlaw even donned her middle-eastern costume and performed a belly dance for Ray. Everything was extraordinary. This painting was chosen for the advertisements and poster of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History's Annual Art Walk.

A few years earlier Ray and I had had a bit of a falling out over our differences in philosophy. During an OAK Group show, I had a painting of Monet's Garden I'd done in Giverny, France. This was not "Nature Preserved" enough for the taste of some in the group, including Ray. During a heated meeting with the OAK Group, he called me a, "Loose Canon". This was all over my painting which some in the group felt was not appropriate content.

After the meeting, John Comer assisted me (gleefully), in removing the painting from the exhibition.

When Ray was 100 years ago, I visited him at his home. I wanted to make amends. He wasn't feeling so well; the years were taking their toll. My intentions were to transcend the ego, and complete with him.

We resolved our differences, and as a token of my appreciation and admiration, I gave him this painting. He hung it on the wall next to his bed. That was the last time I ever saw it.

Three years later, Ray Strong died. An itemization of Ray's estate was completed, and strangely enough, this painting was never accounted for.

That day, we both were STRONG! Now, its time to let go once more.

Montecitio Peak, on Ray Strong's Birthday
12x20 oil/board
Whereabouts Unknown