Fine Arts &
fun is in locking horns with impossibilities."
People & Stories
images are fully completed mixed media drawings
are constantly witnessing our histories (history being: places,
experiences, events...) being lost in time. Landmarks fall apart, go
un-recognized in importance, get torn down, go out of business.
People interact, rise to the occasion, falter, show courage, and
ignorance, and effect each other in ways we may not even realize.
All of this is lost to everyone except those that have the experience in their memories.
Those memories (or moments) make a life, and present a culture in its purest form- without the glossy rose-colored glasses. Sometimes happy,
sometimes sad, sometimes dumb, sometimes miniscule, and sometimes a full-on explosion.
When I hear the question "Why is art important?", this is my answer.
It records us, humanity- as an event in time. In 5 billion
years when the sun burns out, what will have mattered? What I am trying to do
in my sketchbook drawings is document the time I exist within. I use
it as a journal to document what is being lost, both in passing moments
and passing thoughts.
I have asked many artists and students alike why they make certain
choices...I ask myself the same question. Why do I keep coming back
to the subjects I choose? Beyond the answer above, I have to be
vague and say that I am seeking justice. But not a "right and wrong"
type of justice. Like many other people in
the world, I have periods of frustration and delight with society.
When I am frustrated with events that occur, I want to do
something...anything. When I can, I do
something, and when I can't- my artwork gives me the chance for my
soul to speak. When I am at a loss for words, my drawings can speak for me.
Classification of my
Everyone wants to
classify what they are confronted with- it makes life easier. I
don't like to be classified, but I understand that it is a necessity for
understanding. This is a simplified concept so the generalizations
and specifics don't drone on and on.
Art has a large
spectrum of classifications. In this particular area I focus on just
Fine Art, and Illustration. At one end is Fine Art, largely
independent in ideas without outside influences on how and what to paint.
At the other end is Illustration, largely considered commercial, and
generally the concepts and how-to is dictated by someone other than the
artist. I fall between the two, and it has always been a fight. I am a narrative artist, if it
were music, I would be a folk singer (only not so hippy-esque). I
almost always follow a narrative in one shot imagery. The narrative
is usually my own, but on occasion it has outside influences of culture. So,
I guess that my approach puts me on the fence.
I have two main areas of work: One is painting, and the other is what I
call "sketchbook". This is not necessarily the traditional
idea of a sketchbook. Each drawing is fully finished, usually with
mixed media. As it is stated above, my sketchbook drawings are
mostly reactionary to events that get my attention and interest.
While I am classically trained as a painter, I spent my undergraduate
time in Illustration with a strong background in the fine arts. I
have trouble classifying my work as I see it as both commercial and
independent. Post college I have spent many years working as a
freelance illustrator and artist. My work has been used in print,
television, and movies as well as exhibited in galleries in both
the traditional setting and web based exhibitions. Clients have
included Shambahala Sun Magazine, The Discovery & Travel Channel,
Columbia Journalism Review, Gannett Newspapers, WOKR-TV (ABC Affiliate),
Skeptic magazine, and Balancing Act Pictures, and a host of personal and
A brief explanation
of what is behind the Drawings/Sketchbook imagery
For many years I worked every day with emotionally and socially disturbed children
(and I have since worked with the developmentally disabled and adult
patients with mental illness and chemical dependency).
The children go by many names: at-risk , disabled, abused, special education, special
needs, devils, impoverished, high-risk, daughters, trouble-makers, sons, brothers, sisters,
grandkids, and "its". Adults have been referred to
as retards, idiots, mentals, and morons. People say I must have
had patience, or they ask why I did it. To me it's simple: As an art
student, I thought I might change the world with my art. Make people
think. Yes it was, and continues to be delusional- but a little bit of
hope never hurt anyone. In art school I found myself surrounded by
very politically and socially charged students and faculty. They were not
always accurate, or even aware of the real world- but their determination
for change was like a drug. This had a profound effect on what I
wanted to do with my life. After graduating, I discovered that I
wasn't going to change the world with my art, and I wasn't sure what else
I could do. I could stand around like all the rest and complain
about the ills of society, or I could get involved. I did know what
not want. I did not want to be one of those
people who talks, and never acts. Some might label that
person as a politician. Not just the government type, but the kind
we find all over, in every workplace. Martin Luther King once
phrased it as the "paralysis of analysis". I instead
decided to jump into a job that would make a difference
every single day. My days, my actions, and my presence mattered to
these kids, and I have never regretted the choice. After nearly 9
years of working with youth, I felt that I could never go back to working with regular children.
There was too much need, and too much personality. These images
document the lost, the neglected, the abused, and the future in our good
society. The images in the "kids in crisis" (subsequently
named "Crisis") section may disturb
some, and they may appear desolate, but there is hope. I state it
many times, but I'll repeat myself here...there is hope, through
individual effort change is possible, and yes- I truly believe that
term "sketchbook" is used in reference to my drawings. I keep a
portable book, which I use to create full color (mostly) fully rendered
imagery. I often refer to this work as "journalistic",
because it started out as, and continues to be a record of my thoughts.
In the fall
of 1995 I took a trip out westward. No destination in mind- just
west. This was a trip to find out who I was, and who I wanted to be,
free of any friends or plans. In the course of 3 months I
traveled 12,000 miles through 23 States, and I ate in a lot of bad
diners. The term wandering aimlessly would fit the
bill. Highlights included seeing the Andrew Wyeth exhibition at the
Nelson-Atkins Museum in KC, watching as an American tourist was scolded
for trying to swipe a bedspread from a hotel in Sarnia Canada, Salem Sue
the 25 foot cow in North Dakota, taking a boat tour of the Puget Sound in
Seattle, watching Cal Ripken jr. break the consecutive games played record
on some fuzzy motel t.v. in Idaho, visiting Mt. Rushmore when the
government had to close national landmarks due to not having a budget,
Taoist philosophy books, being caught in a blizzard in Vail, being
besieged by a squadron of mosquitoes in Teddy Roosevelt National park, and
the retirees that gave me a slice of pizza while camping in a torrential
downpour at Taquamenon park in Michigan.
On this trip I brought a couple of Canson paper books to keep some sort of
journal, sketches, diary ...whatever. It started as a diary, but became
much more than a travel journal. When I returned from this trip, I
had become accustomed to daily doses of drawing. These drawings all
challenged who I was, or was going to be. These drawings were
handled sometimes from life, or photographs, and sometimes from my
gut/head/emotions. As I began to work with Socially and Emotionally
Disturbed at-risk children in a social services setting, I found That I really enjoyed the freedom of drawing in these
books. No subjects or images were out of bounds...the work was quick,
and fresh. I felt a resurgence of the reason that I became an artist in the
first place. The sheer joy of drawing this way is like singing in
the shower when no one's home. That lack of fear, or the conquering
of the fear of HAVING to present a finished image (or a slick image)-
allowed me to be creative. To stretch my limits, and forget
about the stage that I had become disenchanted with in illustration.
That stage of always bending to someone else's vision. The created artwork is
journalistic in creation and concept. A majority of what I refer to
as the sketchbook work is spontaneous, on-the-spot-style drawing. Good old
I became addicted to this form, and in the Spring of 2000 I began teaching
a new course at R.I.T. (Rochester Institute of Technology-where I
taught from 1993 through 2004) focusing solely on Sketchbooks. I also displayed
the work here in Rochester at the Mercer Gallery
College) in a solo exhibition. This was not something that was
planned, I was working because I loved the work, and without intention of
showing at a gallery. The Mercer Gallery has previously exhibited
such notable Illustrators as: Alan E. Cober, Philip Burke, and David
Cowles. To me this was a great honor, and a great opportunity to
show a lot of art. All in all I exhibited 141
works- 126 sketchbook drawings. The show was entitled "slipping
I cannot pretend for my artwork to be more than it is. Sometimes
fun, sometimes excellent, sometimes not, and sometimes disturbing.
I draw and paint what I see. I am the opposite from what many people
call an "art-eest" (which by the way if you use it- all artists
hate that term). That term is a stereotype that represents
what I loath about the artworld. That term implies
self-righteousness and idiocy at the same time. I do not strive to
push away society, I strive to show it. I intend to display
the best of the arts- the "higher-calling". I am not leading
the pack (by any means), I am just drawing a soapbox to stand on trying to get a viewers
attention. Sometimes I say something important and worthwhile, and
I am not part of the bloated artist ego, but I
do take what I do very seriously. My work represents my life.
The work is from the gut, and grounded in the craftsmanship often
associated with Illustration. However, it is not simply
"illustration", nor is it "fine arts". It is somewhere in-between
the two. The artwork is both representational and abstract,
narrative and personal. For me, it is the best of both worlds.
I like that there is nothing in art that is
out-of-bounds. Artists have explored ideas that make people happy,
relaxed, angry, sad...and ideas that make a viewer want to act.
Sometimes the ideas are good, and sometimes they are not. But not
acting at all is never good.
Recent writing on my artwork, and the artworld in general can be found
on the "writing" pages under art.