Tuesday, August 9, 2011

POPs Come to Moffett--I Hope

Plein air painters at work. Photo courtesy of the Peninsula Outdoor Painters Association.

It was at a Thanksgiving dinner with my friends the Seymours several years ago that I heard the term "plein air" for the first time. I've always been interested in art--so this was a rather large gap in my knowledge.

En plein air is a French phrase which means "in open air." So, plein air painters are painters who, like Winston Churchill with his easel, like to sit outdoors and paint.

Three years after that Thanksgiving dinner, a light bulb went on over my head as I stared at Hangar One at Moffett Field.

This photo was taken in June when the black tarp still covered the hole in the top of Hangar One. Those panels are gone now and just the girders are visible. You can see the tail of an old P-3 on the edge of the photo.  The P-3s used to fly out of NAS Moffett on Cold War sub hunting missions.

Since I returned to California I've frequented a gallery where many local plein air painters exhibit their work and I've come to know several of them, as they take turns manning the till at the gallery. Many belong to the Peninsula Outdoor Painters--or POPs.

At the same time, I've been volunteering at the Moffett Historical Society Museum to see if I can help with their public relations and publicity. My father did a lot of flying out of Moffett and we all celebrated birthdays at the Officers' Club there.

I got to thinking of putting the two together: painters and Moffett.

The museum was interested, so I contacted the painters' group and was told if I could get ten or so interested I would have an excellent event--known as a Paint Out in their parlance.  With the help of artist Diana Jaye, we sent around an email.

Hangar One from the wetlands side, looking toward the Coast Range. Photo courtesy of Sue Wilson, Benecia Plein Air Painters.

Thirty-one painters have so far responded in the affirmative! Many--and a lot are long time Bay Area residents--said they had always wanted to get on the old base to paint.

The Navy base was decommissioned in 1993 and NASA now controls the property for its Ames Research Center. So we now have to make sure NASA is okay with the idea.

If we can get this thing going, we might even be able to manage an exhibit--which could raise money and bring attention to the artists and the museum and the Hangar. But I'm getting ahead of myself, as usual.

I have high hopes that we can pull off the Moffett Paint Out.  I also hope someone will paint a picture of the artists painting at the old field--in their sun hats with their sun umbrellas, chairs, lunch coolers, and easels--with God's work--the Bay, Mount Hamilton--and Man's work--Hangar One and the runway--looming large on the horizon.

That's the picture I'm going to buy.

Peninsula Outdoor Painters, living on the edge. Courtesy POPs web site.


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linda said...


i remember the first time i saw hangar one in person after being stationed at moffett. walking inside, i was in awe of the building, especially after hearing the history. it was especially beautiful at christmas. it deeply saddens me to hear it is being torn down. just like it saddened me when the varsity theater in palo alto became a boarders bookstore.

linda said...

i remember the first time i saw hangar one after receiving orders for moffett field. walking inside, i was in awe by its size and history. it was especially beautiful at christmas. it deeply saddens me that it is being torn down.

Robin Chapman said...

You never know. It isn't over 'til its over. Maybe it can be preserved after the toxic panels can be removed. And if the Varsity theater saddens you--visit the Stanford Theater. That's been preserved and restored and runs classic films all the time. I'm a frequent visitor there!

linda said...

i have to agree with a previous poster who questioned with all of the money in the silicone valley, why a prominent person hadn't stepped forward with a donation.

the stanford theater, is that the one on a side street off the main drag in palo alto? i remember a second theater because they showed from mao to mozart when i was stationed in moffett.

Robin Chapman said...

The Stanford Theatre is right on University, near Emerson. The Packard Foundation restored it I think. You can Google it and get the schedule. It is a terrific resource for classic films in Palo Alto.