Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Step Back in Time, Apalachicola

I recently went back to Apalachicola for the Florida's Forgotten Coast Plein Air event. Always a great time, lots of wonderful people and talented artists to boot, plus a lot of cool stuff to paint.

This year I was fortunate enough to meet Lawrence the local barber. He has an incredibly unique barber shop on the main drag in Apalach, in fact he has been in the same place for the last 51 years and it is pretty much unchanged. He purchased it from the original owners who started the business in the very same spot back in the early 1900's.

Thanks to Greg LaRock I saw the Barber shop one afternoon which I have never even noticed before. He is only open one day a week on Fridays and half a day on Saturdays. 

I was out painting in the rain on this Hopper-esc scene across the street from the Barber Shop Friday morning when I saw him walk in and flip the open sign. Naturally I stopped what I was doing and ran across to inquire as to wether or not I could paint inside of his shop. He was very kind and allowed me to set up in the corner. It was a little tight but what a treat it turned out to be.

As I set up a few customers began to stream in. I started drawing in the scene and originally had Lawrence standing behind the chair giving a gentleman a hair cut. Naturally eavesdropping on the wonderful stories being told. Before I was even ready to begin painting that customer slipped out and to my surprise Lawrence went to the back, hung a net from the ceiling, and began to mend it.
This new design enabled me to keep the beautiful old barber chair exposed, versus being covered, and also brought some of the waterman life from the outside Gulf into the barber shop.

I busily set to work and as each patron would come in, he would break away, cut their hair and then go back to mending the nets again, hence the title, "The Double Shift". I really enjoyed the local conversations and realness of this taking place before me, what a treat!

Thanks again to my new dear friend Lawrence. We chatted on and off over the 4 or 5 hours I was there as he told me all about the old place and the three original chairs which he still has, the old Coke sign, which if I remember right was stolen. The air compressor used to blow the hair off, and even the way the floor joists sagged in the spots were the barbers stood for hours on end for close to a century. At one time there were four of them cutting hair, business was booming, now a days business has slowed but he still goes in every Friday and half a day a day on Saturday, and in his down time, mending nets, remembering back to when he and his wife used to work the Gulf for Oysters as well as cutting hair.
This is real life.
Thank you Lawrence!

Final piece -
"Working the Double Shift" 18" x 24" oil on linen panel

1 comment:

Eric Bowman said...

Wow, what an awesome place to paint in -- can't figure out the drop in customers, though...everyone still needs a haircut just like they did a hundred years ago (except for that nasty early pattern baldness). Keep that visor, buddy!