My very first memories of art were Michelangelo's Moses and the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Raphael's St. George and the Dragon, and Renoir’s A Girl with a Watering Can, both in Washington. Almost half a century later it's hard to remember exactly what my thoughts were at the time, but even at 9 or 10 years old I knew I was seeing extraordinary things.
Had my life been a Hollywood story it might have had me on a rocket ride from 5th grade straight to becoming a tortured world famous artist who lived fast and died tragically at an all too young age. Thankfully, I think, things did not quite work out that way. There has been some tragedy, but that's more about my entrepreneurial track record than anything else.
The reality is, after getting my first easel as a young man, I spent a number of years trying to become someone I wasn't. I'm not now, and I wasn't then someone who spent too much time staying within the lines. If I were in school today I'd no doubt be labeled ADHD and plied with lots of drugs to keep me within said lines. Thankfully such ideas hadn't been codified at the time and I was simply told to run around the school to relieve my energy.
My adult life has been a series of vicissitudes, albeit none with really tragic outcomes as we generally define that word. From being inexplicably unemployable at times to being busier than I know what to do with at others, art was about as far from my mind as one could get, at least in terms of my art. I stopped putting brush to canvas after finding that I not only couldn't stay within the lines, but I couldn't do anything that I liked. I wanted to paint like Van Gogh or early Picasso but simply couldn't. My appreciation for art never wavered but my desire to create it evaporated.
Then I saw a Mark Rothko exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. I remember standing in front of a piece that was largely white. It was like a light bulb turning on. While I had always been a fan of Vermeer, Van Gogh, Monet and perhaps most of all Bouguereau, for the first time it dawned on me that I didn't have to do things that looked like the men in the books I read in order for something to actually be art. It was as if in that one second Marcel Duchamp - who I'd never heard of at the time - had taken over my brain.
Liberated from having to stay within certain lines, having to conform to what even I thought was "real" art, I decided to open my mind, not only about what was art, but what I could do. Today, many years later, while still a great fan of Bouguereau et. al., I've also become a great admirer of Roy Lichtenstein, Sol LeWitt and Piet Mondrian as well as of the wide spectrum of countless "graffiti" artists who often seem to create magic with a spray nozzle.
My work doesn't typically have any subliminal or even overt political message or reflect a picture of an unyielding oppression visited by life or even a tragically trampled upon heart. No, my work… is exactly what it appears to be: Paint on a canvas created by a man who simply loves life, particularly while… painting and creating art.