When I talk to people about Doug Heine’s studio, I mention the airplane tail protruding from the roof. That seems to me to be a significant marker of a quirky nature. When Doug Heine is telling people how to find his studio, he mentions the bougainvillea. Fair enough.
Heine graduated from high school in Vallejo in 1953. He is in the front row, just right of center, in this photograph. He describes the photograph as a group of high school friends, although he acknowledges that others would describe them as a gang. The gang had a name – VDOD – but nobody in the gang was really sure of what the initials stood for. “Vallejo Dukes on Duty” was the prevalent guess.
He has lived on Page Street since 1983. Over the years he has held a wide range of day jobs – pipe fitter at the nuclear reactor station at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, as a technician on the Cosmic Background Explorer, and in various roles at the University of California working in the Astro Physics department, the Art Department, the metal shop, the foundry, and the wood shop.
Only a few pieces of Heine’s work are visible from the street.
Heine designed and made the illuminated sheet metal sign on the front of his house after a successful design for his across-the-street neighbor.
Back to Gate 13:
This 8-ton marble piece is a relatively new work by Heine. Western Civilization once again is teetering on the verge of collapse. A hero leans against the pillar, either propping it up or tilting it over. The clock tells us that we are running out of time.
Step inside the gate to the yard and – bingo – big manifestations of Heine’s creativity, whimsy, and joy of life – amidst the world’s first forklift (still working) and ladders and steel and chaos, some of which seems to have persisted from the industrial engineer who owned the place and worked out here before Heine.
Step inside the studio off the yard and you encounter an eclectic, diverse, and whimsical collection of Heine’s work.
These paintings are a logical artistic extension of Heine’s work for the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission, whose purpose was to take precise measurements of the diffuse radiation between 1 micrometer and 1 cm over the whole celestial sphere. NASA used three instruments, a Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) to compare the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation with a precise blackbody, a Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR) to map the cosmic radiation precisely, and a Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) to search for the cosmic infrared background radiation. And tell me that Heine’s paintings don’t suggest the cosmos.
One of several pieces where Doug’s verbal playfulness is manifest. Hint to understanding this: he is the very strange nail in this analogy.
Past the studio is the sanctum sanctorum – and more Heine art.
Artists just can’t resist Barbie.
The name of this piece is “Two Souls That Become One.” It honors his mentor, the late Hal Dougherty and his wife Rita. The marble is from Carrara, Tuscany. Heine has traveled to work in Carrara, famous since Roman times for its marble.
I am charmed by the whimsy of this piece. The 5-7-5 haiku pattern is disrupted by two missing pencils on the left, the fault, Heine says, of a careless cleaner. Oh well.
Heine sent me this photo of a new piece in October, 2015. I am waiting to hear what its name is.
Heine talks of a “pitty-patter” factor, that if the art he is working on doesn’t make his heart goes pitty-patter he knows he has missed. As far as I can tell,he doesn’t miss.
I found my friend going through these photos. I didn’t have to ask him to take a look.
“Dude, this COBE gig was really something. Do you think he was up in this?”
Well,not, I don’t. But that didn’t stop my friend.
“This is intense!” he said. I agreed. And, I asked, what about the photos of Doug Heine and his work?