Portrait of the Artist as a Junkyard Dog
I’ve always thought of myself as an artist, yet I have never had a show. Nor do I have a degree to back up such a claim. What I do have is a body of work that grew out of a happy compulsion to express things I’ve seen and felt as I made my way through life. When I saw that my work didn’t look much like what I saw hanging in other people’s homes, I knew making a living doing what pleased me wasn’t going to work out. So I found other ways to make a living and saved art for me.
Over the last forty years this has included jobs painting signs and murals, designing logos and menus. Even though they require some creative skill, to me these jobs had nothing to do with art. Something produced on command, to pay the bills, is different from something that comes from the heart, the soul.
With regard to my art, I don’t like to repeat myself. So, to the untrained eye, my pieces might look like the work of a dozen artists. An easy label, a recognizable “brand” may make good business sense. But making a living by churning out a predictable product has never appealed to me. The result: I found the inspiration and made the time to create art for no other incentive than to see something I’ve imagined come to life before my eyes.
If forced to describe my work with a single word, I think I’d say, ENIGMATIC. When someone stands in front of something I’ve made, hearing them say “What the hell is this?” is a far better compliment than, “Isn’t that lovely?”
A lot of my material - both manmade and natural - is found washed up along the banks of the Hudson, which has been a source of inspiration my entire life. (I like to joke that it makes me part of the “Hudson River School.”) Often, the medium that happens to cross my path, points the way to the piece to come. Oil pastels and chicken bones, watercolors and driftwood, gold leaf and ginkgo leaves...anything might inspire me or become part of my work.
I get great pleasure from incorporating things into a piece of art that people (and nature) have thrown away, giving it a whole other life, a sort of re-incarnation. The results may puzzle, delight or disturb you. Just don’t be afraid to say “What the hell...?”