Baptism by Water (1999)

Copyright J. Cobb

Baptism by Water is a large painting and is situated opposite Baptism by Fire in the Chapel. This is one of John Cobb’s personal favorites. The background is Lake Travis, near Austin, specifically an area known to the locals as “Hippie Hollow”—an area where nude swimming is permitted. The sky is gold leaf contrasting sharply with the rocks and the water.

The scene is filled with characters: Jonah, on the far right bottom, is the child of a surfing friend of John’s. All the men are “water men”—all are surfers, except one plumber. The man on the far right, standing in the water with his hand raised as John the Baptist, is Wes Beck, “the most loud-mouthed and aggressive surfer you’d ever want to meet.”

But easily missed are the small figures in the distance in the center of the painting. Here are Adam and Eve. Do they need baptism?