Richard Wood didn’t become an artist until shortly before his retirement in 1997.
Since then, however, the professor emeritus has devoted much of his time to creating computer generated images that are blends of his background in cell and marine biology.
Several of Wood’s works currently are on display in Room 110 of the Keith Administration Building, alongside those of his colleague, Joel Schechter, and the two men’s wives, both of whom are professional artists
“I’m still amazed that people are interested in my stuff even though I don’t have any formal art training,” said Wood, who taught cell and neurobiology. “I’m enjoying it immensely.”
Displaying faculty art was the idea of Richard Lolley, associate dean for scientific affairs.
After the Office of Scientific Affairs was spruced up with new paint and carpeting late last year, Lolley suggested decorating it with original art rather than the framed posters that had been there before, said Lynda Jenkins, administrative director of scientific affairs.
Hanging the art in a public place serves two purposes. “It gives exposure to the artists and pleasure for the people who come in and use our office,” Lolley said.
Wood said his post-retirement art career began when he fed into his computer images of wood cuts that he had made. Then he began manipulating the images.
“The things I do with my art are sort of a combination of marine biology and cell biology,” said Wood, whose art is currently being exhibited at the Long Beach Central Library. “I’m interested in biological forms.”
One of Wood’s most popular works is of bright green dancing starfish – a takeoff on Henri Matisse’s famous painting called “The Dance.”
Joel Schechter, professor of cell and neurobiology, also has contributed art to the walls of the Office of Scientific Affairs. His piece, an oil pastel drawing amplified with colored pencil, is entitled “Steak and Lemonscape.”
Unlike Wood, Schechter has a lifelong history with art, having recruited his undergraduate degree in fine arts and painting and his Masters in medical illustration.
Schechter said he has had his work exhibited in Long Beach, Oregon, Michigan and previously on the University Park Campus.
“A lot of what I’ve been doing in recent years is medical illustrations that were used in courtroom cases,” Schechter said.
Two of those cases were high profile.
In the first smoker’s lawsuit against a tobacco company about 10 years ago, he was hired by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. to prepare illustrations of the plaintiff’s cardiovascular system and lung anatomy, Schechter said.
And, shortly after motorist Rodney King was beaten by LAPD officers, King’s first attorney hired him to prepare drawings of his client’s facial fractures, Schechter said.
“I think it’s nice to demonstrate that university faculty are a diverse population with diverse abilities and not just tunnel vision scientists,” Schechter said.