Retired Navy commander and SafeLaunch co-founder Ron Cuff is encouraging local teens with a flare for art to graphically express their feelings about addiction and the science of the brain.
“My plane is a pure white canvas shaped like a Cessna,” Cuff said. “It’s screaming for some art and design. Call me crazy, but I think it will be fun to see what artists can do with it. The artists will have the opportunity to enjoy an aerial sightseeing tour of the Santa Barbara area.”
Janet Rowse, another SafeLaunch co-founder, said, “SafeLaunch is practicing the art of prevention, and what could be more fun and educational for Santa Barbara than public art that flies?”
The “Paint My Plane Public Art Project” is being co-sponsored by Atlantic Aviation and the Department of Airports. The theme is, “Don’t Let Addiction Ground You, LAUNCH!”
An artist painting a real plane isn’t without precedent. In 1972, Alexander Calder (1898-1976), best known for the creation of the modern “mobile,” painted a famous Braniff Airways Boeing 727. Calder’s artwork is in most major cities throughout the world. One of his pieces survived the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2011, attacks and is being refurbished for a future installation.
Braniff Airways executive George Gordon met with Calder, showed him a little white model plane, and asked him to paint it.
“I don’t paint toys,” Calder responded. “No, no,” Gordon replied, “I want you to paint a full sized jet.”
Calder liked that idea, and was paid $100,000 for each design. Calder, like most artists, was very careful about his work and insisted on overseeing each paint job. When the plane was finished, he would personally paint one or more engine nacelles.
Three local youth teams will paint the plane. At 9 a.m., students from the Downtown Boys & Girls Club under the direction of artist Bill O’Malley will paint. Beginning at 1 p.m., two teams from the Santa Barbara Arts Alliance will paint under the direction of Miguel Rodriquez and Danny Meza. Ricardo Venegas coordinates the Arts Alliance program, which encourages youth to participate in projects that have a community service element. Local mural artist Manuel Unzueta will provide artistic guidance.
Teams will begin painting at 9 a.m. at Atlantic Aviation, 404 Moffett Place in Santa Barbara. For more information, call SafeLaunch at 805.283.7233.
— Janet Rowse is the co-founder of SafeLaunch.