Thursday, May 26, 2022

From The Land Of Sky Blue Waters

 Back in fall 2020 my High School Art Teacher(yes of course I keep in touch with my old art teachers) visited the farm here and was excited by the old Hamm's beer signs I have. "My brother has the Hamm's account," he happily exclaimed, "I need to text him a picture of this". So I said only to someone you've known for thirty years, "tell your brother not to fuck it up." I drink Hamm's and am a fan of Hamm's. The next day I got an enthusiastic call, "my brother wants you to paint something for Hamm's." So... I got the call and an email with a vintage Hamm's landscape painting with the instructions to paint something similar even telling me to let your inner Hamm's come out. Holy Shit! "I was born to do this," I said. One of the first things I did was inform my friend Mike, Mr. Minnesota and fellow Hamm's drinker. Wild disbelief was his reaction, like most people's. 

Luckily it was covid and I had no art shows and time for this because it was a short deadline, so everything had to be dropped and this became my only focus. Next thing you know I am scrolling through images of old Hamm's beer signs. Picking three vintage Hamm's signs including one of my own, I combined them into one panoramic painting that the format required. As a fan of the old Hamm's northwoods designs, I wanted to connect the history of cool advertising that is associated with Hamm's. Most people I know love the old Hamm's beer signs. Why they ever stopped that marketing campaign back in the 1970's I will never know.  The old Hamm's crown logo has to be one of the best Mid Century Modern designs of anything, period. Living in the midwest, one goes up north in the summer to escape the warm weather. To escape civilization in all seasons. You dream of stealing away to be on the water. That was basically my whole childhood. My family has vacationed up north at Lake Namakagon since the 1950's. My first memories of being up north involve staying at Richard's Resort. Riding in a 1973 Dodge Dart through the dense woods of Bayfield County Road M, I couldn't wait to get to the lake and get out of the car. As we got closer I was ready to explode when from out of the woods the Richard's Resort Hamm's Beer Sign appeared at the driveway's edge. How many people had an experience like this? I try to go up north once a year to paint, and plan on more up north paintings in the future. Its part of my story.

 On warm days I LOVE drinking Hamm's. Putting one in the freezer first to get extra cold, I dream about being up north, being a kid, being with my family. Nothing tastes as good as an ice cold Hamm's on a hot day. Few things in life are better.

There were five designs and they picked mine. We tweaked the painting a few times, making it more blue and vibrant. A section was added to it to make the painting wrap around, meaning the right side lines up with the left side. That was interesting to do but not that difficult, just tedious. We talked back and forth a few times about the idea for the carton, it was to be called the Throwback Pack. This was all very exciting to me. The painting is flipped backwards on the beer carton, and I had to sign my name in reverse.

Time went by. Covid created labor shortages. There was/is an aluminum shortage and the new design was pushed ahead a year. My life rolled on and I forgot about it. I'll believe it when I see it I thought.This is too to good to be true. These things don't happen to me.

And then, I got word that it was coming out this spring. Things got more thrilling when people started texting me images of it. Bizarre when a friend bought me a 12 pack of it. Surreal when I saw it and my name of it. 

I am very honored by this, but it in no way compares to all the experiences I have had with my usual body of work. People tell me all the time how much my paintings mean to them emotionally. Nothing can compete with that. This is just a really really cool side project that somehow happened, and nationwide at that. It is unbelievable really.  I am extremely proud to be apart of the Hamm's story and tradition. If you see it, have a cold one for me!