Rod And I: Love, Art And Trains
To harmonize the whole is the task of art.” Wassily Kandinsky
Railway Design is a small company that Rod started. I helped him. He designed the HO kits, did all the tooling, and left that as a legacy for me and my two sons to continue. It’s a small endeavor, but it is a good way to carry on. Today would have been our 50th anniversary. Rod got ALS in 2001 and died in 2006. He actually painted with his mouth toward the end of his life. He loved railroading and he loved to paint.
When Rod first discovered he had ALS, he noticed a weakness in his right arm, his painting arm, naturally. He was quite brave and didn’t let the weakness slow him down. He painted some monumental acrylic canvases. One showed him as a self-portrait nude with a machine gun in his hand. This can be interpreted in many ways. It is a shocking and powerful painting. I believe he was trying to say that even though the body became the ‘betrayer’ he was not giving in until he had to.
It also displayed his anger toward the illness. It is the most powerful painting I will ever see. Perhaps it’s my intimacy with him, or maybe it’s just the image.
I believe I have the last painting he did, which is an etching and shows his head leaning toward the ground. This is also very powerful. He was a fine writer and did many short stories which he shared with our local town coffee house.”