Blue Sky on TUNNELVISION
"So the idea for 'Tunnelvision' came in a dream. I woke up early in the morning and just sketched it out. I'd already seen the wall, I'd sat and studied it for hours, just waiting to see what would come before my eyes, and nothing came. And early one morning, I woke up and it was there. ...That's where 'Tunnelvision' came from.
"That's why I call it 'Tunnelvision.' Because it was a vision in a dream.
"I had applied to the Arts Commission three times about doing a mural and they turned me down. The fourth time, after I had the dream, I took them the rendition of 'Tunnelvision.' I said, 'Here's what I want to paint and here's the wall I want to paint it on.' So they said, 'First go see if the Federal Land Bank will give you the money.'
I got Dick Goldberg from the Arts Commission to talk to the bank, but they said no, they might go along with the idea, but they wouldn't put up the money for it. The Arts Commission said well, we can't give you the money for it until you get permission from the bank. So, Dick, who can be a very convincing guy, went over and talked to them. He took the sketch over and explained to them that the Arts Commission was behind the project.
They asked a lot of questions, but only one major one: Was I a communist? "I guess because Diego Rivera was arrested for painting communist slogans in New York City. That was the last big news flash about any murals in this country. ...They approved ['Tunnelvision'], but on the condition that if in one year they didn't like it, I would paint it out.
The grant the Arts Commission gave me was $3,000. And it took a whole year to do the mural. Think about it -- $3,000 for a year's work. But I wanted to do a big work that's just out there for everyone to enjoy.
Music was my inspiration all through it. When I was painting rocks, I needed strong music to carve the rocks: Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. When I listened to Beethoven, I was trying to equate his musical problems with my visual problems. The problems he had in constructing his symphony, the way there were movements. The rocks jet up above you. The rocks are blasted out. They are thrusting in many different directions. There are all kinds of movements in those rocks."
"Even sober drivers blink and often screech to a halt as the familiar old Federal Land Bank in downtown Columbia, South Carolina comes into view. There before astonished eyes is a veritable mirage: a Tunnel hewn out of mountain rock, through which a clearly marked highway curves off to a brilliant orange sunset... The reaction to “TUNNELVISION” ranges from cheers to puzzlement. No one has tried to detour through the tunnel -- yet. But there have been near crashes as motorists gawk at the phantasmagoria -- apparently transfixed by the prospect of driving off into Blue Sky’s wild blue yonder." - People Magazine, February 9, 1976
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