Local DC Artist Harry Stone

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Local DC Artist Harry Stone Discusses Elon Musk and Steve Jobs

2M Artist Harry Stone invites us into his home and discusses the influence Elon Musk and Steve Jobs have had on his tech-centric artwork.


Harry: Elon Musk…he started PayPal. He’s the chairman and owns Tesla Motors, electric cars.

Matt: Is this the one who wants to do commercial travel to the Moon, or something in space?

Harry: No, he’s going to…

Alison: That’s Richard Branson. This is rockets.

Harry: That capsule, right here. Here’s the Dragon capsule that they took up to the International Space Station, where they sent up there. It’s the first commercial flight to take supplies up to the space station.

They’ve got a flight agenda that’s probably 15 flights a year, all the way through 2017, already booked. They’re putting up satellites for people. They’re doing a lot with NASA. He’s trying to get to Mars himself within 10 years. He’s going to do it, too. He’s incredible. He’s the chairman of SolarCity that puts the solar panels on…

Matt: They put the solar panels on 2M!

Harry: Yeah, so you’re familiar with him.

Matt: Yeah.

Harry: He’s got his hands in a lot. That’s another play on words, “Dear Elon, I heard you’re moving.” With PayPal, he’s moving money. With SpaceX, he’s moving supplies and people, and Tesla, he’s moving…The cars are awesome. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but…

Matt: Oh, yeah. They’re really beautiful cars.

Harry: They’re incredible. He’s got a lot going on. Next month, he’s going to introduce an idea he’s had for a “hyperloop” between San Francisco and LA. It’s going to be at least 10 times faster than an airplane. You just walk up, you get on it, and you’re gone.

Matt: Wow.

Harry: You’re gone there. It’s a…

[crosstalk]

Jeff: It travels in the air, though?

Harry: …No, he doesn’t…He’s letting the cat out of the bag next month, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a tube, a vacuum tube. You’ll be able to sit in something and it’ll suck you right into the tube.

It’s very safe, because the pressure between — if he does it that way — will push the cars in front of them. The pressure in the tube, and they’ll never run into each other, never be an accident. It’s going to be very safe. San Francisco to LA in two hours, probably.

Jeff: He definitely thinks outside the box, huh?

Harry: Yeah. He’s unbelievable, what he’s got going on. He’s got a whole lot of things going on. Again, you’ll see the crown and the loftiness of taking off. Of course, if he goes up to Mars or whatever, he’s got to come back, so…

[laughter]

Harry: I highlighted the “E” because he’s an electrical engineer. He’s the head engineer and designer for SpaceX, also. He doesn’t just own the company. Their capsule is a “Dragon,” so, incorporated into the crown, I put it off, but like the back of a dragon with the scales all the way down to loop you back around, so it’s balanced as a rhythm.

Alison: Suitcases, down there.

Harry: Yeah. These are normally just squares in my paintings like this, but I put a couple of handles on it, just to go with the “moving” thing, still. Again, nothing that really jumps out at you, one thing. It’s something that you have to look at the painting and think about.

When I look at these paintings, I get lost in them for a while. Even though I painted them, I still go back on it, “Oh, yeah, that’s why I did that,” because I’ll just…If you saw me painting. I’m just like…like that everywhere. Lots of times, I don’t know why I did something that I did.

That’s the crux of that painting. Then, these little squares, and the X’s…I have a lot of X’s in my paintings too. It’s just to balance it out visually, to pull your eye over there and then back to another spot. It really came out nice. But that’s going to be more of what I’m doing from here on out. I figure, for the next 20 or 30 years, with technology, I’ve got plenty of opportunity and plenty of things to…

[laughter]

Harry: …because I can make puns with the products or whatever it is that they’re doing. That’s just a regular abstract.

Harry: This is the other one, Steve Jobs. This was when he was about to announce the iPhone 4, so “I phoned you four times,” just to put “I” and “phone” in there and “four”. “You must have been tinkering in the clouds” because, at that time, he was developing the cloud for Apple. “We’re on a break,” because he kept taking breaks because he was sick.

I started working on this right before he announced the iPhone 4. Then, one night, I finished it, and I was like, “Oh, finally.” because it took probably four or five months to keep thinking about it and do it the way that I wanted to do it. The night that I finished that, I woke up the next morning, and he had died that same night that I finished it. It was really creepy. Being up in the clouds and tinkering around, it really took on another meaning.

Alison: Which is why you won’t sell it!

Harry: Yeah. That’s probably my favorite painting, because it’s…It was just too weird. I had painted a Trinity up here for some reason, too, and I didn’t realize that he was going to die.

Jeff: That’s got a darker side in it, too. It’s not as bright as your others.

Harry: It’s got some kind of connection. I just really feel a connection to that painting. During that time, I was really devouring Apple stuff.

That’s the basics of that one.