Thursday, January 3, 2008

Robert Blue - Flintknapper


Robert was a real nice fellow, I met him through my old newsletter "Flintknapping Digest" in the early 1980s and then met him and his wife Linda at the 1989 Wrightwood knap-in. Robert was an amazing painter and artist and it showed in his knapping. Robert sought out all the greats to learn the knapping craft. Linda Blue came to some the the 1990s knap-ins to honor her husband, Robert Blue - artist, knapper & teacher - who died on January 22, 1998.

According to John Whittaker, author of “American Flintknappers”: “Flint knappers can also be considered a subculture, a smaller unit within American culture as a whole”. All of us that fit into this subculture have our own little niche . Robert Blue had his, from my perspective Robert revived, to some extent, Rinehardt’s lever flaking on large rectangled slabs- and for sure was responsible for its’ use in California in the 1980s. He was also instrumental in the emergence of the lapidary art of “flake over grinding” on jaspers for pattern flaked points (Richard Warren and Jim Hopper style) here in California.

“The knap-in is a public arena where knappers perform their craft and interact with other knappers” (Whittaker). The Wrightwood knap-in, held at Jackson Lake near Wrightwood, California, was the knap-in Robert attended. Knap-ins have specific structure that has evolved overtime. The first knap-ins were circles of knappers attempting to ascertain archaeological data – unlocking the mysteries of lithic technology.Later the became a circle of artists sharing techniques, later booths were added and more of a fair atmosphere, then lapidary equipment and quest for the perfect point- and booths . All of these stages were enjoyable and beneficial to the participants. Each year at Wrightwood there was a centralized knap-in circle, this is where the knapping was undertaken in earnest and people showed what they were made of, it was high noon and the knappers were like gun slingers and pattern flaking could outdraw fluted Folsoms and that could only be trumped by a massive biface. It was all in good fun but prestige was on the line if one was to blow out a key-hole notch or end-snap a large biface when in the circle. I think most knappers were so intent on what they were doing that they didn’t give others but a glance. Most of us had a set up around a secondary perimeter, this is where the booths and demos took place. In the morning after the time at the fire pit, people broke off and went to their set up. Robert Blues set up was right on the edge of the open area, on what might be called the entry, as you drove up the steep dirt entry he was right after the turn on the right, under a large scrub oak. I recall a fairly large gathering at his set up watching him demonstare both flake over grinding technology and lever flaking. Robert’s lever flaker was made of large carpenter vises clamped together. After he was done with his demonstrations he brought his modern knappers collection into the knapping circle and we all looking and pondered. I recall Robert’s detailed narrative for each piece of lithic art. After the collection had been fully explored Robert sat within the spherical line of knappers and took his rightful place within “a smaller unit within American culture as a whole”.

Robert Blue of Studio City, California was inspired by a collection of Reinhardt's points , Reinhardt had been long dead but Blue did find fellow Gray Ghost collector, Charlie Shewey in Missouri. Robert offered to buy all of Shewey's Gray Ghosts and Richard Warren points and that money was no object. Charlie refused Blue's offer, but directed Robert to Richard Warren. After Robert bought a fair number of points, Warren shared some of his secrets with Robert Blue and introduced him to Jim Hopper, whom Warren had taught. Jim Hopper and Robert Blue became good friends and Robert became very good at art knapping. Barney DeSimone, couched Robert through his early years of knapping. Later Robert inspired Barney to return somewhat to lapidary knapping. It was Robert Blue that taught Ray Harwood to knap in the lever style of Reinhardt, Ray produced dozens of "Raynish Daggers" with the lever flaker. The Raynish Daggers were simply slab points in the form of 10 inch Danish Daggers ("2-D daggers" -not 3 dimensional). These were what Callahan called the ugliest Danish Daggers he had ever seen. After Robert's death and some prompting from DeSimone and Callahan, Harwood returned to traditional flintknapping. One interesting bit of knapping lore I overheard at a knap in goes like this:" Steve Behenes had invented this steel fluting jig that could flute supper this preforms. Steve was close to Robert Blue at the time and he sent Robert a thin Folsom and the detached flutes, Robert returned the detached flute -and he had fluted them !


Robert D. Blue, dead at 50
Son of the late Ben Blue
"Robert D. Blue, son of the late actor-comedian Ben Blue, died Jan. 22 of brain cancer at St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica. He was 50.
Blue, an accomplished artist-painter, had a long history of gallery shows across the U.S. and in Japan. He was co-founder of Davis-Blue Artwork, L.A., and at the time of his death was serving as chairman of fine art at Assn. in Art, Van Nuys.
Blue is survived by his wife, Linda, and a brother.
A funeral mass will be held at 7:30 p.m. Fridayat St. Paul the Apostle Church, 10750 Ohio, Westwood.
Robert D.[1] Blue (1946[2]- January 22, 1998[3]) was a painter noted for his images of pin-up girls in the 1980's and later his cowgirls of the New West series. He was the son of comedic actor Ben Blue[4].
] Biography
Born in Los Angeles[5] in 1946, Robert Blue grew up in Beverly Hills. He served in the United States Army and attended the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, earning a BFA at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.
His work precedes that of similar artist Patrick Nagel. In 1979, Blue joined Brian Davis to form the Davis-Blue Artwork publishing company. Collectors of Blue's art have included Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand and Hugh Hefner, as well as numerous corporate collectors, including the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Los Angeles, and the Atlanta Hilton Motel. Blue served as chairman of fine art at Assn. in Art, Van Nuys.
Blue succumbed to brain cancer[6] in Santa Monica in 1998, and the Robert Blue Foundation to aid brain cancer victims was instituted in his memory. He was survived by his wife, Linda, and his brother, Tom.
Two films have featured Blue's art; 1974's The Second Coming of Suzanne, and 1984's Heartbreakers, the latter of which was loosely based on Blue himself[7]. There has also been a character in a novel based on him."

1984's Heartbreakers, Film Based on Robert Blue:

"Blue{Robert} and Eli, two friends, have problems with women. Blue, a yet-to-be discovered painter is left by his longtime girlfriend, because she considers him too immature for a longlsting relationship. Eli on the other hand, who works in his father's aerobic suit business, is still searching for a woman who is interesting enough to spend more than one night with her. Their friendship is put to a severe test as both fall in love with Liliane, Blue's attractive new gallerist. Written by Robert Zeithammel {}"


Location Manager said...

That guy beating his meat on the grill looks like a flint knapping skull poker. David McKinney

Robert said...

Painter Robert Blue created some great images. On a related matter, if you like Patrick Nagel's art, please come visit a new forum set up by some of his fans:

Dan Farnsworth said...

Hi Ray, I have collected points from several knappers over the years and I wondered if you had ever heard of Ivan Imel....I hadn't heard from him in many years and wondered if you knew anyone that had...thanks...Dan Farnsworth