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 heâ€™s not as young as he used to be.
When Houston Arts Alliance officials, who managed the commission, asked Long, 68, if heâ€™d be able to finish in time for the libraryâ€™s opening in September 2007, he didnâ€™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 muralâ€™s finally completed, and Long was on hand last week to supervise its installation in the childrenâ€™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 squidâ€™s tentacles.
Itâ€™s a sea fraught with art, too â€” 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 Homerâ€™s 1899 painting The Gulf Stream.
And isnâ€™t that a Rembrandt self-portrait embedded in the sky? And an Andy Warhol Campbellâ€™s soup can? And Leonardo da Vinciâ€™s Mona Lisa?
The instant recognizability of these and other iconic masterpieces embedded in the painting is integral to the muralâ€™s meaning, Long said.
2 = article may expire in a few weeks.