“Fat Man” at the Hanford Dorm Club Christmas Dance

Dancing with the “Fat Man”

"Fat Man" at the Hanford Dorm Club Christmas Dance
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“Fat Man” at the Hanford Dorm Club Christmas Dance
Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project
16 by 20 inches
December 2011

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Another new Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project painting

The Fire Prevention Parade
The Fire Prevention Parade
Digital painting, 2009

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What the Hanford Declassified Project archive shows is that life was one long parade in Richland

Parades are a recurring theme in the Hanford Declassified Project archive. Their intent was to build morale and a sense of community among a non-local citizenry shipped in from all over the country.

Another common theme is fire prevention, and for good reason. The last thing anyone wanted was a wall of flame barreling down on the Hanford plant, though by “anyone” I don’t necessarily include the children who were conscripted to participate in fire prevention parades for an opportunity at center-of-attention costumed fun, because it’s doubtful that any of them were aware that fire posed a more potent threat for nuking the area than the much-dreaded Cold War villain, Russia.

For the children, the drilled dread was that fire might destroy their homes, rather than rush off to Hanford through the desert and cause a nuclear meltdown.

The big guns that showed up at the parade were heady confirmation the government loved the little desert hamlet of Richland, and if you did your part in protecting your homes from errant sparks cascading off the cigarettes of careless parents, then Nike missiles and cannon would save you from a Ruskie Slim Pickens. Having parents who smoked–and whose parents didn’t smoke?–I recollect well my own vigilance, attentive and en garde when cigarettes were wielded too casually, ash missing the lip of an ashtray and falling on the table. With every red spark, I could hear the tumbleweeds scream. For the message given us was that our parents weren’t responsible enough to not burn down their homes. Adults were something like mindless idiots who might behave at their day jobs but could be counted upon, at night, to drink too much, forget where they lived, that they had a house and children at all, and pass out in an eventual, self-medicated stupor with cigarette still lit. We, their dependents, had the job of protecting our progenitors from themselves each night, so in the morning we would all wake up with a roof over our heads.

That it was our responsibility was impressed so greatly upon us by our teachers, I remember asking one of them what of single adults who had no children to care for them and their cigarettes? Who would keep them from burning down their house?

Continue reading Another new Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project painting

Nuclear Family Shelter

Nuclear Family Shelter
Nuclear Family Shelter
Digital painting, 2009

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What every nuclear bomb shelter needs a magic vacuum

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A new painting for the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project series, this one showing a cozy nuclear family bomb shelter, with my addition of Kirby, a Japanese character who protects Dream Land with its ability to inhale creatures much larger than itself. What better a protector for Richland, than Kirby at its dream town gate, able to absorb dark nuclear shadows and annihilate them with its relentless cuteness and positive attitude.

Peculiarly, this was the only image of a bomb shelter that I came across in the Hanford Declassified archives. A headline on the newspaper in the photo reads, “Eisenhower Should Declare Intentions Now, Morse Says”, which perhaps places this photo in the 50s.

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Model for Instrument Show Publicity Shot (Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project)

instrumentshownosig
Model for Instrument Show Publicity Shot, Declassified
Digital painting, 2007
30 by 24 in.

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The painting is based on a photograph from the Hanford Declassified Project. Hanford, part of the Manhattan Project, was where the plutonium used on Nagasaki was manufactured. In 1953, the year of the photo on which the painting is based, was begun a second Cold War expansion of the site, with the oldest reactors by then operating at 20% to 50% above design capacity.

Blastoise, a turtle Pokemon, is perched on the model’s sexy lure of hip. However he got there, I don’t know, he just kind of appeared in this painting. With his water cannons he could be an evolution from a painting I’d done prior this one, based on a Hanford fire safety photo showing a woman putting out a trash can fire with a water hose. What I do know is that should his weaponry fail to protect him, though the little turtle tank portable shelter would seem an enviable security, much as bomb shelters seemed to individuals during the Cold War (and their equivalent to today’s survivalists), they offer little more protection than shielding one from the truth.

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The Ballerina, Declassified

The Ballerina, Declassified, 2006

The Ballerina, Declassified, 2006
Digital painting based on a photo from the Hanford Declassified Project.

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A child ballerina performs at the Hanford Theater during the WWII years. Her family would have been involved, in some capacity, in the production of the plutonium used in the Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki. She didn’t know this. Nor did her family. They wouldn’t learn what the war effort at Hanford involved until after the bombing. Not being privy to the facts, the ballerina’s parents hadn’t even the opportunity to make a choice as to their involvement in the creation of Fat Man, which was not only dropped on Nagasaki, it was dropped on humanity at large and the whole of the planet.

As Oppenheimer famously said:

Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds…

Based on the below photo:

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Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project – Closing the Barn Door

hanfordwomanputtingoutfireinwastebasketflat
Closing the Barn Door (declassified)
about 20 by 15 inches
2007
Digital Painting/Photo Collage
Based on a b/w photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.
copyright J Kearns 2007

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On January 17th the minute hand on the “Doomsday Clock” will be moved forward, for which I did this painting in commemoration of the event.

Fire prevention was a great concern at Hanford, and the original photo in the Hanford Declassified archive is from a shoot on fire safety. On the table was an ashtray, suggesting a cigarette butt is the culprit of the waste can fire the woman is hosing down.

The ever-present concern with simple fire safety in the Hanford Declassified archive contrasts bitterly with what was either over-preening confidence in manhandling awe inspiring forces of nature or a terrifying cynicism that would leave to others the resultant problems beyond the immediate future. Whether which one was responsible–and likely both–Hanford, today, is said to be the most toxic site in the western hemisphere.

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Child Acrobats at Hanford, Declassified

hanfordchildacrobats
Child Acrobats at Hanford, Declassified
2006
Digital painting by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.

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These children, likely siblings, performing as acrobats in a children’s talent show at the Hanford Theater during the WWII years, had no idea that in a short while plutonium manufactured there would be dropped on Nagasaki, the 61st anniversary of which is today. This is something that was much in my mind as I went through the Hanford Declassified archive–and is mentioned often enough in my commentaries on the paintings–that the WWII photos depicted life among individuals who knew only they were working for the war effort, unaware they were enrolled in building “the bomb”. Though the necessity of secrecy will be asserted, the right of a laborer to privileged information which may sway their decision to work or not on a project seems an essential ethical issue.

The painting I did subsequent this one, I titled, “Closing the Barn Door”, after the idiom of the absurdity of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, and here a girl is performing gymnastics on a sort of pommel horse against the impersonal fury of the onrushing future, Mount Fuji looming in the background as in several of the paintings, drawn from Hokusai’s iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”.

The digital painting was based on the below image:

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A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall (declassified)

I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, declassified
A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, declassified
2006
20 w by 24 in h
Digital Painting with photo collage elements by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project.

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A girl performs on the accordion at a talent show at the Hanford Theater in 1944. I don’t know why, but this image proved to be particularly moving, perhaps because of my having been trained musically as a child in Richland (and after), and my life-long association with music through my producer/keyboardist husband. While working on it, I listening to Bob Dylan’s classic, “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall”, because, though Dylan says the song is not about rain from atomic fallout, the lyrics are appropriate enough–as they are appropriate for all warfare–and spoke to a future horizon that was being projected by Hanford those few years before Nagasaki. Not that war before Fat Man and Little Boy was any less horrific.

But Fat Man and Little Boy were undeniable game changers.

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Rocketship X-M (declassified)

No, they actually failed to grasp the irony of a Rocketship-XM float carrying the prized Atomic Frontier Days Queen and her court

hanfordtheaterfloatdarker
Rocketship X-M, declassified
2006
20 w by 13 in h
Digital Painting by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.

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The subject of the digital painting is Richland Theater’s float entry in the Atomic Frontier Days Parade, mid 1950s, advertizing a production of “Rocketship X-M”.

Why would this float cause a riot?

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Hanford Trailer City (declassified)

The minimalist life Hanford style

hanfordtrailerlivingdarker
Hanford Trailer City, declassified
2006
20 w by 13 in h
Digital Painting by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.

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Not everyone occupied with building The Bomb lived in the government-built Alphabet houses in Richland. Hanford Trailer City housed construction workers at the Manhattan Project’s Hanford facility, with more than 3000 trailers and an average 3.7 people living in each trailer. At its peak occupancy, Hanford Trailer City had a population of 51,000 and was the 3rd largest populated area in Washington state. Those who arrived without trailers could opt to reside in barracks, but I imagine there were also trailers available for renting.

Where they lived

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Pig at the Hanford Animal Farm (declassified)

Rumors spread far and wide of an entity named Charlotte who loved Wilbur and showed the world he was some pig

hanfordanimalfram100f
Pig at the Hanford Animal Farm, declassified
2006
20 w by 15 in h
Digital Painting
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.
copyright J Kearns 2006

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This is a pig at the Hanford Animal Farm.

And this is a pig at the Hanford Animal Farm.

1954 100-F AREA,FEEDING PIGS,HANFORD SITE
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0006093”
Accession Number N1D0006093
Document Number 10270-NEG-E
Alternate Document Number 10270-NEG
Title Description FEEDING PIGS – 100-F AREA
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s) 100-F AREA,FEEDING PIGS,HANFORD SITE
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 12-Jul-1954
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

I’m not sure what they’re doing to the pig but whatever it is seems to involve forced water intake as that is a hose they’re holding in the pigs mouth and water is pouring out of the hose and into the pig. The photo’s caption reads the pig is being fed. Perhaps this could be called feeding.

Full disclosure–I’m not a vegetarian. But I believe in humane farming and am sensitive to animal research issues.

These were some pigs not destined for the dinner table

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Crossing Guard (declassified)

There’s a reason for which I keep bringing up sex and Hanford

hanfordschoolsignflatnosig
Crossing Guard, Declassified
2006
13 w by 20 in h
Digital Painting/Digital Collage
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.
copyright J Kearns 2006

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School Crossing Guard
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0053447”
Accession Number N1D0053447
Document Number 1210-50-NEG-B
Alternate Document Number 1210-50-NEG
Title Description SWIMSUIT CLAD GIRLS WITH TRAFFIC SIGNS
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s) HANFORD SITE,TRAFFIC SIGNS
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 05-Feb-2002
Public Availability Date 14-Jun-2002

Richland even had strippers for school crossing guards

I don’t remember a single stripper standing between me and my school, but the Hanford Declassified archive would have us believe that Gypsy Rose Lee’s blond cousin was called to duty to protect the children. That’s because, apparently, the below billboard of a dead child sprawled across the desert highway was ineffective. Because no one in Hanford or Richland paid attention to anything but sex.

SAFETY BILLBOARD
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0038856”
Accession Number N1D0038856
Document Number S-2697-NEG
Alternate Document Number S-2697-NEG
Title Description SAFETY BILLBOARD
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 04-Dec-2001
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

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