Drive Carefully Me

Drive Carefully Me is a painting that embodies the golden age of Hollywood and a classic americana aesthetic. Paul Newman is one of my favourite actors. Some of my fondest of his works are movies like The Sting, Butch Cassidy and Cool Hand Luke. To my generation, Newman is best known for 'The Watch'. Specifically, his Rolex Daytona ref. 6241. It was recently sold at auction for $17.8M, being called "the Mona Lisa" of the art world. The timepiece was given to him by his wife in 1968, to help him keep time while he racing. She had it engraved with the simple words “Drive Carefully Me.”  Some 15 years after the gifting of the watch, it changed hands. After the building of a treehouse with his then girlfriend’s father, eighteen-year old James Cox was asked what time it was by Newman. Cox responded that he didn’t know because he didn’t have a watch. Newman, taking the watch off his wrist, stated, “now you do.” 

After reflecting on the story of the watch and its cultural significance, I wanted to create a piece that honored the actor, what he stood for and the timepiece itself. In the upper left I have created a setting sun. This is a symbol of the fall of the golden age of Hollywood, a time period when many of the greatest cinematic pieces were created. It also signifies transitions. As I was working on the canvas, I was thinking about how Newman was transitioning into his second career, chasing his love of racing over that of acting. Upon the sun, I placed the iconic Rolex logo to signify the famous tie between the brand and Newman. I also loved the idea that you have to take risk to pursue your passion, but the best way to do so is within the construct of using technology or analysis to control risk. Lastly, I wanted the logo to be over the sun, to appear as a deconstructed timepiece. In this portrait I want to not only showcase this incredible actor and time period, but I also believe that there is something to learn from the era. We are currently experiencing an environmental catastrophe that will soon become unfixable, and we are at a crossroads similar to the end of the golden age of Hollywood. In this painting, I strived to capture in Newman’s eyes both the urgency and tranquillity that can be associated with changing times. Drive Carefully Me seems to take on a different meaning as we as a society drive greenhouse gas emitting vehicles towards the end of a time as we currently know it. We all need to experience the moment that James Cox had in that treehouse — our own wake-up call to the passage of time, and how quickly the window for change is ticking away.