Project: For Amusement Only Floor Mural-1995
Dimensions: 11' x 17'
Medium: Enamel Paints with Gymnasium Sealer Varnish
Location: Formerly at 1010 Grayson, Berkeley
Since I first played it as a child in Guerneville arcades in the early 1960s, pinball has been a part of my life. During the period from the late 1970s to early 1990s, I had been continually searching for machines out on location in public places, with almost no success. Silver Ball Gardens in Berkeley had been one of the few surviving places where I could get my pinball fix, and I loved the classic "Tommy"-themed mural on the wall, near the steep and narrow staircase leading up to the second floor.
I met Jim and Judy Tolbert almost by accident, one day in 1991, as they were closing down "For Amusement Only" storefront on Ashby Ave. Jim was about to rent a massive warehouse space on Blake St. in Berkeley, where I later played and purchased many machines. In 1995, Jim was in the process of downsizing his business once again, and asked if I could paint a tribute piece to pinball on the floor of their new showroom on Grayson St.
Jim had written one of the standard books on the subject, "Tilt", back in the 70s, was fluent in all aspects of pinball art, repair, and history, and suggested that I create a playfield on his floor, with artwork elements drawn from no less that 7 different machines. I drafted a sketch and, while they were away on vacation for a month, I painted the floor. Unfortunately, painting on the floor had aggravated my chronic back issues. A few days after I finished the mural, I found myself unable to walk, and spent 8 days in bed. My chiropractor told me that I'd come very close to spending the rest of my days in a wheelchair! Apparently, three different spinal injuries had simultaneously occurred. Over time, amazingly, she put me right, and I want to offer my ongoing thanks to Dr. Deborah Shick.
Unfortunately the floor hadn't been nailed down to the joists properly, which led to cracking along the floorboards. This would be my first and only wood floor painting.