Wade in the Water Mural ~ 1308 28th St

Bob the Dog is featured in this mural on the alley side of the Capitol Physical Therapy building off 28th Street between N & Capitol. “Bob” is Rod Larson-Swenson’s signature character and has appeared in countless of his paintings (1). In this News & Review article, he describes how Bob came about:

“When I first painted Bob,” said Swenson, “I had a real bad day. I was frustrated and I just scrubbed out a big painting and because I had spent my whole day painting and came up with nothing, and just in frustration I just scrawled this dumb dog. Someone walked in the studio within two days and bought it. A friend of mine named it, he said, ‘Well, it looks like Bob the Dog to me.’ ” (2)

Swenson started painting in 1970 when his eldest daughter was born. He said that having his daughter “suddenly made me feel like an adult and I could do what I wanted, even if it was crappy. It didn’t matter. So I started painting in 1970 and I just never stopped.” (3).

Photo by Larry Dalton in News & Review article by David Kulczyk

He continued his day job with the Post office for 20 more years but then retired to paint full-time and now lives with his wife in Asia:

In 1990, Rod Larson-Swenson quit his job with the U.S. Postal Service in Oakland, moved to Sacramento and began full-time work as an artist. Sacramentans know him best, perhaps, for his otherworldly “Bob the Dog” paintings and murals, which at one time enlivened at least three buildings in midtown and North Sacramento. In 1996, Larson-Swenson and his wife, LizAnn, left Sacramento for Taiwan, and in 1999 they moved once more—to the Yunnan Province in the People’s Republic of China, where she teaches English and he paints. (4)

Swenson has shown often at 20th Street Art Gallery in Midtown and they have profile page for him where a number of his paintings are displayed. In an article in Sacrament Magazine, he credits his relationship with 20th Street and the artist community at large with his success:

I had lots of great mentors, a vast community of people who were working at art. Some were teaching; some were just barely managing. We were bound together by our love of painting and the presumption that we could do it and that it mattered. I owe everything to that community. They are as important as the work itself. (5)

In another quote in the Sacramento Magazine article, it sounds like the way he is drawn to people and community have drawn him to love where he lives now:

To my surprise, I found that I loved living in Asia. In the United States, we live a very internal, contained life. We are always in our cars or our homes or our workplaces. The sidewalks tend to be empty. In China, the sidewalks are packed with people in all conditions employing every conceivable means of transport. It’s a fantastic jumble of humanity. (6)

Title: Wade in the Water
Artist: Rod Larson-Swenson
Date: 1997
Media: Paint
Location: Alley side of Capitol Physical Therapy building, 1308 28th Street

View Pedestrian Art, Sacramento in a larger map

(1) http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=12815
(2) http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=12815
(3) http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=12815
(4) http://www.sacmag.com/media/Sacramento-Magazine/March-2007/So-You-Want-To-Be-An-Artist/
(5) http://www.sacmag.com/media/Sacramento-Magazine/March-2007/So-You-Want-To-Be-An-Artist/
(6) http://www.sacmag.com/media/Sacramento-Magazine/March-2007/So-You-Want-To-Be-An-Artist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>