Our Daily Sykes #477 – Cooper's Hopper Art

The solitary stack or tower or grain hopper on this horizon reminds me of an artist named Cooper – John Cooper, I think, although I now know a local collector by that name and so may be confused, however the Heald brothers, Paul and Larry/Charles, both artists themselves, would know, for at least Paul taught art in or attended Indiana (or Illinois) University in the mid-1960s when Cooper or Coop’ was there, if that was his name – who in 1968 or ’69 was driving around the United States in an older Cadillac painting grain hoppers (not on them) with whatever media and on whatever surface was available.  Coop’s hoppers, I repeat, resembled that landmark left of center in this, of course, unnamed – by Sykes – place.  These oversize farming artifacts had, as I remember it, taken on some symbolic role for the often manic Coop who once had exhibited – or assembled – a show of several of them on the campus where he taught.  He was a persuasive fellow and traveled – I think I’m correct in this – without funds.  I traded him a beer in the Kulshan Tavern – in the Fairhaven part of Bellingham – for a portrait of myself, which he painted on an easel and surrounded with symbols of many sorts like the ying yang and his hoppers.  He did the painting in an open field – or vacant lot – near the tavern and the sun was setting over Lummi Island.  For me it was a most joyful event.   (Click to Enlarge)


9 thoughts on “Our Daily Sykes #477 – Cooper's Hopper Art”

  1. I like this passing well. The scene presents itself at first as a complete world, with a valley running through the nearscape and a ridge on the other side of it, and yet the entire scene is merely one edge of a greater valley beyond, which we can’t really see into but whose misty effects we can detect near the horizon. A little different narrative for Sykes, it seems to me. Thanks for posting this!

  2. Mike
    I confess – I don’t understand you, and yet I can figure your http address “toadrock” which also suggests an inverted grain hopper (of the kind used in Indiana in the 60s at least.)

    Well put. Except in the sky, #477 is not an “ordinary” Sykes.


  3. Again I am too terse. The link is to the site of the artist you discuss, John Cooper. He appears to have settled in BC. Click the link, peruse his site, send him a note. Toad Rock seems to be a name for his location in BC, whether of homestead or town I can’t say.

  4. John Cooper was an art prof at Indiana State University until the spring of ’70. I remember his hopper art. He was quite an attraction on campus.

    1. I am quite familiar with John Cooper’s hopper shows. I was a staff member at Indiana State University when John taught at ISU. At the time my position was Program Director of the Tirey Memorial Union Board. He came to me one day and said he wanted to have a hopper show on the quad. I asked him “exactly what is a hopper?” He explained but I still didn’t have a very good ideas until about 26 of them arrived on campus and were dispersed on a portion of the Quad. He had food prepared along with music. The event became a Happening. It went over big with the students but not sure about the administration.If I recall correctly, the first show just featured the hoppers without paint, but soon afterwards the hoppers would appear at different places on campus with paint designs. He would cut out small pieces of masonite and either have his students paint hoppers on them or he painted many himself. I had a bulletin board in my office and it became full of hopper paintings. One day they all disappeared so I guess he decided to take them away. He was quite a character and unfortunately was perhaps a little ahead of his time on our Midwestern campus. I recently asked about him and found an article that led to his website. I was so pleased to see that he is happy in his environment and very successful and honored for his wonderful art in the community where he lives. He really is a gentle and creative soul. Over the years I have thought of him often. He is certainly one of the persons I remember well in my early career at the University–I treasure those memories of having known him for a short period of my life.

  5. I knew “Coop” during his years at Indiana State U. and photographed him and his art many times for the Audio-Visual Center where I worked while a student there. And I still have a fist full of “Hopper Money”.

  6. I had a 64 Stratocaster that John painted on the pickguard. It was impossible to tell what the painting was, but it was a John Cooper.:-)

  7. Thanks to you all. I’m Paul (dorpat) the fellow who put up the picture and attached the Coop speculation to Horace Sykes kodachrome. And this is the first time (in 2018 it is) that I have re-read what I wrote and so landed at the bottom where you put your generous responses. I’d also heard that coop was up in B.C.. Bless him and both hoppers and his pets – if he has any. Paul

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