The Boneyard Project: Kenny Scharf Paints a Lockheed Jetstar -- On View This Summer

Categories: Visual Art

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photo by Eric Firestone
Long after Jackie Kennedy left her design mark on a Lockheed Jetstar used to transport high-profile military personnel, Kenny Scharf picked up a couple of hi-quality spray paint cans and added his own layer.

The L.A.-based artist has made a name for himself with large-scale paintings and installations based on pop-culture and science fiction, including cartoons popular during his childhood (The Jetsons, The Flintstones). He became a big name in the art -- both gallery and street -- scene in New York in the 80s and showed his work at The Whitney, Fun gallery, and in the apartment he shared with Keith Haring.

This past Saturday afternoon, Scharf took a break from painting his Lockheed Jetstar at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson to talk to the public about the future of The Boneyard Project alongside Eric Firestone and Carlo McCormick.

See also:
- The Boneyard Project Continues: Curators Carlo McCormick and Eric Firestone and Artist Kenny Scharf to Visit MOCA Tucson This Weekend
- The Bone Yard Project: When Planes Become Contemporary Art Canvases in the Tucson Desert
- Watch this Motocross Video: DC/Robbie Maddison's AIR.CRAFT with Crazy Stunts at the Tucson Boneyard

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photos by Claire Lawton
The Boneyard Project launched a year ago by big-name New York curators Eric Firestone (who grew up in Tucson) and Carlo McCormick. The two invited dozens of internationally recognized contemporary artists to paint retired military aircraft and nose cones that they snatched out of a lot full of rusting planes called The Boneyard.

In January of 2012, the planes and nosecones were on view for the public at the Pima Air & Space Museum (located across the street from The Boneyard). While many of the nosecones returned to New York with Firestone, who currently operates a gallery in the East Hamptons, the planes remained parked at the museum. And according to Firestone and McCormick, planes will still be dragged out of lot, artists will still travel to Tucson to give them new paint jobs, and The Boneyard Project will continue for as long as they can sustain it.

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photo by Claire Lawton, plane by Retna
"Financially, this project has been a disaster," says Firestone to a crowd of about 80 inside the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson on a Saturday afternoon in March. "But there is considerable institutional interest, and as a person who grew up in Tucson and comes back to Tucson on a regular basis, I'd like to see this project continue for decades and become a destination for contemporary art in Tucson."

Firestone says he recognizes the rehabbing and recycling of old planes is nothing new -- he saw artists and designers reappropriating scrap plane parts as art and design when he first became involved in the art scene in Tucson. But he says as the military starts to keep most of its technology and equipment for security and recycling purposes, The Boneyard will become a thing of the past.

"Of course we're paying homage to an age-old art form of decorating military planes," he says. "But we're also saving what could one day be obsolete or turned into beer cans."


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