I was lucky enough to find out with little warning the Tom Everhart, who has been doing fine-art paintings using Peanuts imagery for over thirty years now, was talking at a local small museum (small enough that it takes up a store space at the local mall.
I’ve never met Tom before, never got to hear him speak, but unfortunately only got to do the latter of those two things this time; I may love Peanuts but I love my family more, and could not hang around the appearance long enough to get a chance to chat. Perhaps some other time.
But I did get to hear him speak, and he spoke a lot about his relationship with Schulz, which began when the Disney company hired Everhart to do some pitch art when they were trying to acquire the right to use Peanuts in their theme parks. Schulz was not taken with the pitch (he wasn’t fond of the Disney corporation), but he was taken by the samples, and soon Everhart was being hired to ghost Schulz – not on the strip (Everhart emphasized that strongly), but on things outside of the strip, like material for MetLife, or a Time cover. (This is something that caused some tenseness when we were putting together the outside-the-strip material for The Complete Peanuts volume 26, the awareness that starting at that time, they had a good enough ghost that we could not assume that just because it looked like Schulz, it was Schulz. We made our best efforts and best guesses.)
But he also spun tales of his life in the New York City art scene, of going to the birthday party that Andy Warhol helped put together for Keith Haring, of seeing his next-door neighbor Jean-Michel Basquiat dead in his bed from a heroin overdose. This reflects something I’ve seen repeatedly in Schulz’s dealings – Sparky may have been a sweater-wearing teetotaling Bible school teacher, but if you could speak the language of creativity, everything else didn’t matter, you were on the inside with him.
The museum had one Everhart original as well as a print on display as part of their current Empathy-themed exhibition. They had two books of Everhart’s work which I had not seen before, with the offer that you get one if you signed up for museum membership at the event. (That also covered you for admission to the event and a poster, which I could not stand in line to take.) There have been two (that I know of) museum catalogs for Everhart exhibitions in the past, one from Japan’s Suntory museum (which I don’t have), one from the Schulz Museum (which I do)
So I joined the museum, and got one of the books, picking the (pre-signed) copy of Tom Everhart: Sleeping Beauties: The Have Mercy Paintings over Tom Everhart: Recent Works simply because there was one specific painting in the former that I wish to show someone. This is a 160 page book published by publishing-services company Limelight Press in 2018, but not available through their website (nor through any book source that I can identify, the same being true of the other volume), with over 50 paintings presented, as well as an essay by Everhart (covering much of the same ground about what drew him to both his art style and to embracing Peanuts as portions of his talk.) I guess I’ll be adding these the “museum books” page of the collecting guide when I get a moment; between these and the book of the Peanuts Global Art Collective work, I may need to retitle that page.
Of course, doing research on this, I discover that there was not one but three more Everhart books that I did not know about, a boxed set Tom Everhart Graphics Special Box containing Tom Everhart Graphics Exciting Vol. 1, Tom Everhart Graphics Memories Vol. 2, and Tom Everhart Graphics Future Vol. 3. And as these are books of Peanuts pictures, these are Peanuts books, and thus my collection is even less complete than I realized…. and art books ain’t cheap! (sigh.)
I said it before and I’ll say it again: I never really understood the Everhart work (to the extent that one understands any art) until I saw the originals. The layers and blobs of paint give them a physicality and an impact that the printed form does not carry, as interesting as those may be. I think that I can understand even the reproductions of his work much better having seen the real thing. So if you do get a chance to see some of his work, take it.