"Art/Life" at the Houston Public Library

Bert Long creates the mural of a lifetime
— Houston Chronicle2

CompletingArt/Life, a 30-by-7-foot mural for Looscan Neighborhood Library in River Oaks, taught Bert L. Long Jr. the hard way that he’s not as young as he used to be.

When Houston Arts Alliance officials, who managed the commission, asked Long, 68, if he’d be able to finish in time for the library’s opening in September 2007, he didn’t bat an eyelash. Having had exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; and countless other venues, he knew a thing or two about making deadlines.


Two surgeries extended what was supposed to be a three-month project to 17-months. But the mural’s finally completed, and Long was on hand last week to supervise its installation in the children’s area of the library at 2510 Willowick.

The acrylic-on-canvas painting depicts a ship sailing toward a sunset on a sea fraught with such perils as sharks and a giant squid’s tentacles.

It’s a sea fraught with art, too — art that looks awfully familiar. Included among the sharks is a small boat carrying a black man who looks uncannily like the protagonist of Winslow Homer’s 1899 painting The Gulf Stream.

And isn’t that a Rembrandt self-portrait embedded in the sky? And an Andy Warhol Campbell’s soup can? And Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa?

The instant recognizability of these and other iconic masterpieces embedded in the painting is integral to the mural’s meaning, Long said.


Check out this piece of art yourself at the Houston Public Library‘s Looscan Neighborhood Library.

2 = article may expire in a few weeks.

Author: Paloma Cruz

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