Woog's World: True grit -- Paint plus sandpaper equals art
Tom Allen is one of those Westporters who brings to mind the Eagles' "Hotel California." You know: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
Tom graduated from Staples in the mid-1960s. He went on to Eisenhower College, and a very successful career as a corporate speechwriter. He's a confirmed New Yorker now, but he still keeps up with all things Westport. Decades later, he's got an encyclopedic memory for people, places and events.
The other day, he told me about Fred Lyle. I'd never heard the name, but Tom filled me in. Fred was an Eisenhower classmate, and a close friend of Tom and the late Bob Shulman. In college he also became friends with Westporters Brian McCarthy, Mike Tingley, Cindy Bernier, Hope Stephanson, Carol Bailey and Henri Gilbert,
Fred is also a 25-year Hollywood veteran. He's founding producer of "Miami Vice," director of "Private Eye," producer of "The Untouchables," "The Watcher and "Nash Bridges," music coordinator for "Last of the Mohicans," writer for "Remington Steele," location manager for "Hill Street Blues," and much more.
He now lives in Madison and is a stockbroker -- "just for the hell of it," Tom said.
He added, "Fred awoke one recent night from a dream with a new form of art embedded in his brain. He went right to work on it." The result is a gallery showing at Rockwell Art and Framing on Post Road East. (It's there through Nov. 18.)
Tom said that before May 2013, Fred had never put a brush to canvas. The whole thing -- the technique, the application, the follow-through -- came to him one night. He woke up at 4:30 a.m. with a crystal-clear vision. He told his wife that he dreamt he bought a canvas and painted it all black.
In his dream, Fred waited a day for it to dry. Then he painted the canvas yellow. The third day, it was Carolina blue. Each day he painted a different color, until he had 12 layers.
In the dream, Fred took a variety of grits of sandpaper, and began removing the paint. Little by little, images revealed themselves. Blends of color swirled into existence.
His wife said, "Go out tomorrow, buy a canvas and try it out. But right now, Picasso, go back to bed!"
The next morning, Fred bought the canvas. Two weeks later -- after all that paint -- it was ready to be sanded. He worked for two days on it. His dream came true. There was something very cool to look at.
Of course, Fred had always been in the visual arts. After earning his master's of fine arts from the University of Southern California School of Cinema, he spent 20 years in film and television. He calls himself "an idea man."
After that first canvas, his ideas became reality. Each canvas is different. He experimented, and learned from his mistakes. Now, he seldom covers an entire canvas with one color on top of another. He plans what he's doing in the addition phase, so that when he subtracts (sands) the paint, he reveals what he's after.
Sue Perreca -- manager of Rockwell Art and Framing -- heard this story. She said he needed a name for his one-man show.
She thought a bit. Suddenly it came to her -- much as Fred's technique had come to him.
"I think I've got it!" she said. "Mr. Sandman -- Bring Me a Dream."
Fred Lyle's show is on display at Rockwell Art and Framing through Nov. 18.