Anyone who has viewed Pennsylvania from the sky has been struck by the plush, beautiful, undulating hillsides of northeastern Pennsylvania's Pocono and Endless Mountains. This is never truer than it is in autumn when the vibrant palette of autumn colors--red, gold and orange--transforms the mountaintops into a magnificent natural canvas. For the last two weeks, to their astonishment, flight passengers approaching the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Airport have also seen, from their sky view and among the autumn trees, a monumental-size painting of artist Shepherd Fairey's Obama poster.
The painting, which is named "Hope Field", is the brainchild of Jim Lennox of Shickshinny, Luzerne County, which is about twenty minutes from Wilkes-Barre. Lenox, a metal sculptor and technical director at Wilkes University's School of Science and Engineering, had just brushed autumn leaves from the 73'x100' field that serves as his and his wife, Hilary Ross' front yard, when the creative impulse hit him.
"I was working in my studio one day, October 13, and the idea came to me. Hilary and I love the [Shepherd Fairey] poster and I thought, 'Why don't we make our own poster in the field?'"
Hilary who is used to Lennox's repertoire of interesting creative ideas was game, and told him, "Let's do it."
She explained, "The end of this election is about hope and we wanted to do something for Obama that would inspire others to support him in the same way that he has inspired us."
Lennox took a digital picture of a friend's poster and following traditional artist-enlargement techniques, spent one week mapping the field, preparing it like a gigantic paint-by-numbers canvas. Then, he and Hilary invited fifteen of their artist friends from five counties for a painting party. Using water-based, environmentally-safe athletic field paint, Lennox, Ross and their friends painted all day Sunday, completing the 70'x100' painting on Monday October 20.
"You couldn't tell what it was going to be on the ground," Ross explained, "We didn't know how beautiful it was until Jim put a 28-foot ladder against at tree, climbed up and looked down. Then we all looked. We were astounded!"
Luzerne County, which is traditionally Democratic, is one of the many rural and small town counties in Pennsylvania that together have received much scrutiny this election cycle. Hillary Clinton carried the county by a wide margin; yet it is worth remembering that Hillary's family is originally from Scranton in nearby Lackawanna County; and that Bill Clinton was so popular in Pennsylvania, the state was solid blue for him in 1996.
"People here are very excited about Obama," Hilary Ross said, "and we're hoping..."
Lennox who is a native of northeastern Pennsylvania, described why he supports Obama, "I am really looking for a candidate--a President--who can represent this country to the rest of the world. I'm looking for a President who has real leadership qualities and that means being able to keep his cool, to inspire people, to speak eloquently and who understands what's important. I see that in Obama." Lennox paused for a moment and added, "With all that, with all those qualities, Obama still seems like the kind of guy I could have a personal conversation with. You get the sense that he cares about people."