The lobby of the new Wachovia Bank in downtown Greensboro is the last place one would expect to find Dagwood Bumstead crashed on the couch.
He's there by way of Beauregard Redmond's imagination.An ex-banker turned artist, Redmond has painted for Wachovia a series of Greensboro street scenes that decorate the bank's new main office in the recently completed Renaissance Plaza.
At first glance, viewers see lovely scenes of the Renaissance Plaza looking from Summit Avenue; the new Jefferson-Pilot building as seen from Washington and South Elm streets; the Ole Greensborough Game Room, a hole-in-the-wall beer hall on South Elm; venerable Fordham's Drug Store on South Elm and the opulent Carolina Theatre on South Greene Street.
Draw closer, and good grief, a dozing Dagwood intrudes into the Jefferson-Pilot painting. And there's Charlie Brown's sister, Sally, across the street from the game room.
Comic strips, advertisements, headlines, photos and stories from recent newspaper pages sneak into all five paintings.
It's Redmond's trademark, done with newspapers wherever he's painting. He de-acidifies a page, glues sections to canvas and paints a scene over it in acrylic. The newsprint shines through.
``Earthquake Rocks N. California' says a headline that emerges from the Renaissance Plaza painting.
A Mick Jagger mug shot, along with the headline about the Rolling Stones' Raleigh concert last year, shows up in the Jeff-Pilot Building painting.
Sometimes the headlines seem to have no relevance to the painting, but occasionally the placement is perfect. A newspaper ad for tablets and cough medicine appears on the door of Fordham's Drug. The faint image of an ad for ``Volvo' is seen on a car parked outside the Carolina. Movie ads decorate the theater's wall.
``More people are coming in to look at the paintings than to bank,' jokes Ginger Hayworth, Wachovia's regional marketing director.
Some scenes reflect 1989 when construction disrupted downtown: the copper cap on the Jeff-Pilot Building was unfinished and barricade barrels blocked seemingly every street.
Beau Redmond accidentally discovered ``newspaper painting' while on a trip to New York in 1981. A scene caught his fancy but he was without paper. So he grabbed a page from The New York Times and started sketching. Back home, he began painting over it. ``It looked like it had possibilities,' he says.
Redmond was born in New Orleans, appropriate for a man named Beauregard, and graduated in 1955 from Virginia's Washington and Lee University, where he won honors in art. He needed to make a living, so he became a banker, eventually rising to the presidency of a New Orleans bank. He quit to paint in 1980.
He fell in love with Greensboro during a visit a few years ago and now works from a home-studio on Aycock Street in the Glenwood section.
His favorite spot is Elm Street, with its old buildings on the south end, shiny news ones on the north.
``The contrast of the old with the new makes a wonderful composition,' he says. ``It is a wonderful time to paint in downtown Greensboro.'