STONES '73 WORLD TOUR by Barbara Sparhawk

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Thought I’d post this again, it gets a lot of attention in my Big Sur gallery, The Hawks Perch.
Rolling Stones World Tour.
The New York City billboard was on 42nd Street, Times Square — I painted the album cover, “Made In The Shade” for ArtKraft-Strauss & Co. sign company that hangs in the eagle’s talons.
World’s biggest billboard at the time, the building’s been torn down but it was a city block long theatre marquee.
Paul Chan did the turbo eagle. The album cover (David Bowie in a lawn chair, in drag) was composed of over 20 pieces of 4 X 8 foot masonite sections. It changed every week for the duration of the Stone’s tour. The thing was HUGE. I did it in 15 days, my first billboard, and Sam the director kept saying SPARHAWK HURRY UP!!
The trickiest challenge was the curved chrome under Bowie’s hand.
This photograph shows it across Times Square, you can see the corner stop lights.
An instructive aside here, about marquees. They turn out to be cantilevers, that is a broad flat surface with a center support and equal weights on both sides to insure balance.
Demolition is a fascinating science, and it helps to know construction first. It wasn’t this particular theatre but an old NY one in a different neighborhood. The building owner wanted the marquee removed. Not a major project, the crew set to it. As soon as it was successfully removed from the street side, the inside upper balcony collapsed.
No women, children, animals, plantlife, or film enthusiasts were hurt in the process, the house was empty. But it sure was an explosive, very costly, surprise.

Not unlike drawing, it’s a good idea to learn anatomy, and how flesh lays on top of bone, and how the whole shebang works communally.

Or, more simply put, it pays to think.

Professional Expressionist, portrait painter, writer, children’s book illustrator, entrepreneur, and adventuress.

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  • bron stadheim
    bron stadheimover 3 years ago

    Barbara, what an accomplishment. absolutely fantastic!

  • It was incredible fun. My God, painting detail with four inch brushes, up to my nose in oil pigment, japan dryer, and benzine AND getting paid for it. Thanks, Bron, for enjoying it.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • billyboy
    billyboyover 3 years ago

    You mean… YOU painted THIS ???
    Well thank God you posted this again cause this is SO something I needed to know.
    All the years this iconic album stood out for me as being a collection of some of the Stones’ most awesoime hits… and now 36 years down the line I can say I know the chick who did the original artwork for the cover!!!

    And Barbara, you have now idea how long I Googled and Yahoo’d to try and find your name attached to it… I can only assume the company retained copyright to the artwork, but there should still be someone out there who can say who the fuk painted it.
    Maybe someone should update Wikipedia at least? How does one do that??

    Anyway, thanks for BLOWING MY MIND back to Jersey with this bit of news… and congrats for blowing away the millions who bought the album. I always thought that cover was awesome, but never even realized it wuz Bowie :-))
    AND… leave it to you to do it using over 20 pieces of 4 X 8 foot masonite sections.
    It’s either pork chop wrappings or masonite with you, ain’t it lady??

    Big hugs 2U!!!!!

  • Dear Billy, you’re going to hate hearing this. YES I painted this….THE BILLBOARD not the original cover art. I am probably however the only artist in the world to do the cover in billboard form at about something like a 40 plus square foot size. When I was handed the photograph by the art department at ArtKraft-Strauss sign company, I was told that it was David Bowie in drag. “This is the Stone’s album cover. Paint it. It’s David Bowie in drag.” It looked like a photo that had been painted on. Your response sent me looking for the actual cover graphic artist. I couldn’t find him. I did find a blog with a couple of pages devoted to the mystery of the cover, so I emailed one of them with all the details I had. I had no idea about anything you said, or what the bloggers said, or that it was important in so many ways to so many. Great album, by the way. I got it to paint in 1973. I was the only female in the business, I painted it indoors, then it was put up with a fork life in the talons of the big eagle already painted on the back billboard. The androgenous look to the figure is part of the mythology making. I can tell you for a fact after so many intense hours painting it that it was a man’s face with some blond whiskers, and masculine arms and hands (despite the manicure), a woman’s neck and boobies, and the genital area was flat out Barbie and/or Ken, asexual. If memory serves it confused the hell out of me but I painted it as was. I think it’s a little different that the album cover which came out around ‘74 or ’75, but not by much and that artwork was the debut. Yes, I did the first unveiling, first public showing of the Made In The Shade cover before it was released. But not, alas, the original art. I can’t find the graphic artist’s name. They didn’t always give credit. Sorry if I let you down. I thought about lying but the truth, once you get over this, is almost as good. Hope you can forgive the unintentional mislead. I did paint it. But I didn’t paint it.
    Yes. I do like oddities.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • NJCameraman
    NJCameramanover 3 years ago

    I know it’s only rock and roll but I like it!!!! AWESOME billboard and a great story as well!!!

  • Thanks, Jim. Me too, nothing to match rock’n’roll EVER. Glad you like this.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • Catherine Berger
    Catherine Bergerover 3 years ago

    congrats – fantastic work

  • Thank you, Catherine. I recommend massive projects whenever possible, nothing to match it.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • Anne Gitto
    Anne Gittoover 3 years ago

    What an interesting post. I am amazed. You have such a great talent. What an adventure that must have been. So glad you re-posted this. ☺

  • Thanks, Anne. It was a very hard job to land. All the billboard bosses kept saying that’s nice, what are you doing for lunch. I couldn’t believe my luck when I finally got hired and I loved it. They used to fire me every thirty days so I wouldn’t be eligible for union membership, then re-hire me. I did get to sneak into union school classes for welding and qualied in over/under/underwater before I got tossed out.. There were no, I mean NO women in the business.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • Nikolay Semyonov
    Nikolay Semyonovover 3 years ago


  • Headed your way soon.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • Nikolay Semyonov
    Nikolay Semyonovover 3 years ago

    Oh, thank youj, Barb!

  • You’re more than welcome, Nikolay. Enjoy it.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

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