12.02.2009

amazing murals graced the walls of Bethesda Chevy Chase High School

robert elwell painted some of the mural pieces that decorated the halls of C Building at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School when I was a student there back in the early 80's
although I have not taken the tour... I am aware that the building has been renovated within the last five years

these old buildings with walls of asbestos were not fitting for these times
the building that is Bethesda Chevy Chase High School was recently renovated
change... for better or for worse we can count on change

if I recall there was David Bowie, Peter Townsend, and Jimi Hendrix
along with all sorts of other non music theme images
these music images may have been the most dynamic pieces
or at least the most significant images on the walls for me

come on... rock and roll or matisse?

I am not positive but I think that these images were painted by Robert Elwell

my memory is faded...
I can not recall if they were all near each other of in different parts of the building
it is hard for me to remember if these were the characters and if they were all painted in the same style

those pieces were never finished
I think this piece was photographed and a print of it may hang in the recently renovated Bethesda Chevy Chase High School.

I did not know him very well... but from where I stood Robert Elwell appeared to be quite a character
a character that John Hughes would like to base his characters off in one of his '80's time capsule type films
only Robert Elwell was a character in real life

Robert Elwell was a few years older than
he graduated from B-CC a few years before I started high school
I knew him only because this real life character was the guy who worked the video game arcade that was attached to the backside of Jerry's Sub Shop on East West Highway in downtown Bethesda
Bethesda in a different time

B-CC had an open lunch
there was McDonalds, Roy Rogers, Jerry's and of course all sorts of office building cafeterias
and of course there were video arcades
it was not uncommon for kids to spend their lunch break at the arcade
sometimes the choice was food or video games

for a time period Robert Elwell was the guy that gave change for a dollar and whatever else needed to be done at a coin operated video game parlor

Robert Elwell had a certain look to him
it was a not quite punk but not too obviously new wave look
there may have been some checkers and maybe more aqua in his wardrobe that most people
he was Square Pegs before there was a show Square Pegs

I learned that these murals in C Building were done by him after I showed an interest in some of his drawings.... drawings, sketches, and of course flyers for his band... ICE NINE

no... I did not really know much more
I was playing the video games and hangout out with my friends
sometimes Robert Elwell would pay for me to play Frenzy (the updated version of Bizerk... yes... the same gave that would say "I DETECT A QUARTER IN YOUR POCKET"
I had some skills... if you can call running a stick figure around a dotted maze
in any case... he would pay for me to play as long as I did not hunt the Smiley Faces... I loved to waited it out and hunt the Smiley Faces
it was like hunting the ships in Asteroids... only not quite
that was pretty much it

I call him Robert Elwell because I do not think that we ever used direct address or really knew each others names

change for a dollar and the "I will pay for you to play just to see how far you can get... always trying to get my game to get to undiscovered levels" situation
that was the extent of me knowing this person named Robert Elwell
this person who had painted the unfinished images of some very powerful rockers

the other night the name Robert Elwell came up and I learned that he was hit and killed on his bicycle working as a messenger in 1997
wow... that was a long time ago
that is a bummer
it always pains me to hear a story like this

it was more than ten years after I met him
it had been more than ten years since this happened
surprised I had not heard this sooner
my heart goes out to all who knew him and miss him now
that is too young to die

next chance I get I am going to have to go to a B-CC Open House
just so I can walk those halls... well... see what remains... maybe a facade
and then the prints of the murals

a mention of the Death of Robert Elwell in this messenger magazine
www.mcaa.com

story in the Washington Post about the mural project after the renovation
www.washingtonpost.com

a page dedicated to the murals
www.bccedfoundation.org

oh... and ED MULANEY'S SLIDES!

1 comment:

Alex said...

Wow, thanks for tying a few pieces of my past together. I remember those murals well - beautiful and powerful and way cooler than BCC as a whole. And I remember flyers for the band Ice Nine but never knew the connection. And I'm sure I saw him riding around on the streets but had
no idea of his talent. Sad to learn his fate.