GALLERIES
SERENADER
© 2010 Keith Halonen    oil on panel    22½×36½ in /
57×93 cm
THIS PAINTING IS A
GOLDEN RECTANGLE
COLLECTION OF JASON AND LISA HALONEN

CLICK
to contact
the artist

 PANTHEON  SERENADER  ONA AND SHEBA  SPECIAL DELIVERY
 HAPPY CAMPER  COUSINS  FIVE  CALIFORNIA GOTHIC

CLICK
to order
this print
YOU ARE IN THE PEOPLE PAINTINGS GALLERY
CLICK THE SHORTCUT ICONS ABOVE TO VIEW MORE PAINTINGS
     I don't usually work directly from a single photograph, though I often take photos of scene elements from many different angles while constructing a complex image concept. Here's a worthy exception that's been nagging at me for seven years.

     This painting is an homage to my late father, Lester "Smoky" Halonen. The original resource photo was snapped in 1936, ten years before I was born. Dad is showing off his new Bacon & Day Serenader Silver Bell banjo. Note the soft pedal fixed to the underside. Smoky jiggled his knee while playing to produce a sort of "wah-wah" effect long before it was a staple of rock and country music guitarists. Dad developed a playing style which he referred to as his "double banjo technique."

     Smoky had something of a career in music. He once performed on radio with Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. He won first place in a nationwide country music contest, but the pressures of making difficult choices in the post-depression economy induced him to stay with his new day job as a crane-operator at Nordberg's Machinery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He gave his first place prize a 4-year recording contract to the second place winner, Eddie Peabody. Eddie went on to enjoy a long life and an even longer career as a popular banjoist with a legion of country music fans.



Detail from SERENADER

     Note the camouflage title. I often discretely conceal the title and my signature in the imagery I paint. The signature is on the right side of the painting.

     Smoky enlisted in the Air Force and served as ground crew chief for the B-24 bomber Shoo-Shoo Baby in North Africa and Italy during WWII. He figured out how to double engine life by using de-icer hoses and earned a Bronze Star for his efforts. He returned to work at Nordberg's after the war and stuck it out until his retirement. Mom had 9 siblings and Dad had 17! My brother and I had some 50 aunts and uncles! I have no idea how many cousins there were. Smoky went to the hoedown in the sky back in 2003.

     My fondest memory of Dad is the image of him giving out a loud, maniacal hoot as he tossed his banjo in the air while performing Twelfth Street Rag. That thing went up about four feet over his head, spinning the whole while. He'd catch it like a baton twirler and pick right up strumming where he'd left off! I inherited this instrument and I can tell you that thing is HEAVY! I often wonder how many times he hit himself in the head performing this stunt!

———————— GALLERIES ————————