1986 Hawaiian Tel Phone Book Cover
OK, This is a short version but in 1985 I was contacted by Hawaiian Telephone and selected to do their 1986 phone book cover. At that time I was age 25 and the youngest artist to be selected for this. All the households in the state of Hawaii would soon have my art in their homes. I was stoked! Then, they told me what the subject would be…Mauna Kea Observatories and Halley’s comet. “Yikes”. That was Not what I was expecting.
The next day I called up Cousin Anthony Texeira, who lives on the Big Island, and ask him to go on an adventure with me. Anthony was always willing to take me looking for rare things like the ‘Alalā (Hawaiian crow) when I got commissioned by the state to do a poster of the bird.
We started at sea level at the Kona Airport and within a short time drove straight up to the summit of Mauna Kea. We were elated and ran around like dummies until we started to feel funny; a little nauseous and lightheaded, I recall.
We looked at each other and tried to speak but couldn’t get the words out. We didn’t know what was happening to us so we banged on the observatory doors for a long time and finally one opened. Both Anthony and I started yakking at the guy in total jibberish and he, who was obviously annoyed at us, told us we had altitude sickness and to go down the mountain to the base camp and stay around there to acclimate, and then come back in the morning. We did.
Parking the car at the side of the road we got out our sleeping bags and tried to sleep. After a few minutes I felt something crawling on me and realized it was a huge spider. Anthony shined a light on me and saw it, along with dozens of its spider friends ontop of me…and Him!
After a huge commotion which included flailing limbs, screams in the night and a cloud of volcanic kayoss, the tribe of giant spiders went scrambling away. We spent the rest of the night in the car and before dawn went back to the summit where we witnessed the spectacular sight of the sunrise emerging from an ocean rainbow-colored clouds. This was to be the setting for my painting depicting the arrival of Halley’s Comet, which would become visible later that year.
Being the naturalist that I was, I wanted to include the native birds and plants that occurred lower on Mauna Kea in the painting, so I did. I separated the top of the mountains (with the observatories), from the lower part of the mountain (with the wildlife), with a sea of clouds.
After two months and three canvasses, I completed the painting and the telephone company, and I was thrilled with how it turned out. Then I received a printed copy and was devastated to see all the colors that had disappeared or turned dark. That day I learned what can happen between the original painting and a million printed copies of phone books.
This experience was somewhat painful, but it contributed to the eventual creation of my most famous painting, but that is a story for another time…
*I have a few copies of the 1986 Phone Book Cover Art that I can sign and give to the first people to request it by contacting me through this website. You can arrange to pick it up in Waimanalo, Oahu or I can send it to you in a mailing tube for twenty bucks. CLICK HERE