Particle physics art

Design “Dude”: La Jollan Christopher Canole Donates Decades of His Art to UC San Diego


Former UC San Diego student and longtime La Jolla resident Christopher Canole – known for appearing at local events as ‘Dude Vader’ – helped hang the first d ‘a collection of 50 drawings he donated to UCSD.

The drawing of a hand holding a reflection of Albert Einstein was placed at the university’s Physics Student Success Center at Mayer Hall on December 15. This is a version of Canole’s drawing that hangs in the Einstein Institute of Mathematics in Jerusalem.

“We are very grateful for Chris’ generous donation,” said Steven Boggs, dean of physical sciences at UCSD. “His gift of artwork embodies the giving spirit of Triton alumni, and his designs will inspire students for generations to come. “

Canole said the other designs will be hung in various departments on campus over the coming months.

The full set of drawings, most measuring 18 by 24 inches and all done by Canole within the past 20 years, depict celebrities and other public figures, animals and other images made in pure graphite pencil.

This drawing of Albert Einstein by Christopher Canole measures 24 x 36 inches; all the others he donated to UC San Diego are 18 x 24 inches.

(Christophe Canole)

The designs are a combination of commissions for institutions such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the International Olympic Committee. So all of them would be originals and not copies, Canole remade some of the drawings – portraits he made as gifts for former President Barack Obama (which hung in the Obamas’ private quarters in the White House), Pope Francis (who hung in the Vatican) and more.

Referring to letters of gratitude he received from Obama and Pope Francis for the portraits, Canole said the drawings are “a fun way to connect with people I never would have had the chance to. to meet with my life “.

Canole said one of his favorite drawings was of the late Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, who he later realized he was related to. “I did one of these ancient searches and found out that my great-grandmother… was Jim Thorpe’s grandmother. My father and Jim Thorpe are first cousins.

He said such coincidences “have been the thrill of my life”.

Canole, who turns 75 next month, said he is donating the entire collection to UCSD out of affinity for the institution’s place in his personal development.

“I was in the first class of freshman at UCSD when we only had 500 students,” he said. “Now there are 43,000”.

Canole said he has made monetary donations to the university since graduating (Canole has an undergraduate degree in physics / pre-med and subsequently received a master’s degree in fine arts in literature from UCSD, in addition to a master’s degree in sculpture from the California Institute of the Arts).

He said he planned to leave the designs with UCSD in his will, but decided to do so now and “watch them being posted all over campus.” That way I can find out what it’s like to have my art on campus.

Canole’s will will also leave a gift to UCSD for long-term maintenance of the designs.

Christopher Canole, as "Dude Vader," welcomes visitors to the La Jolla Christmas Parade in 2020.

Christopher Canole, as “Dude Vader”, welcomes visitors to the La Jolla Christmas Parade in 2020.

(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“I have led a varied life,” Canole said, “more of a modern day Renaissance type of man.” In addition to his scientific and premedical knowledge, which he transformed into research assistant positions, he worked as an actor on television series and other projects.

“I was a still photographer, I wrote scripts, I built a Batmobile,” he said.

“The life lesson I have learned is that whenever someone gives me an opportunity my first answer is ‘Yes’ and then I determine if I can do it or not. “

Canole said the philosophy “really made a difference. … I had the opportunity to undertake any type of activity that I found interesting. This is what created the variety in my life. ??