My work as an artist springs from three sources: Montana,
where I grew up; a half-Catholic upbringing among highly independent
and egalitarian homesteaders; and my varied work experience. Among other
things, I have acted in a Shakespearean repertory company in Idaho,
processed fish in Alaska, and managed the Center for AIDS Research at the University of California, San Francisco. The politics of San Francisco, the culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, and the economics of both also greatly influence my life and vision.
The way I make my art, where I show it, and how I talk about it is strongly informed by the fact that I came to painting from outside formal structures. While my childhood was shaped by public school performing arts programs, and my adult life has been mostly dedicated to performing, teaching or facilitating the arts, formal higher education in the arts was a conundrum for me. The experience of applying to and being wait-listed at an elite MFA acting program (which I relinquished, for economic reasons), made me think a lot about the prevailing notions of who makes art, and how they come to that making. About whose art we see, and how we judge it. About the idea that one must be educated in order to appreciate art; and maybe even more educated to make it.
My day-to-day experience tells me that everyone responds to art, just as everyone responds to beauty, to fresh air and the rhythm of waves and birdsong. Almost everyone employs some form of creativity in their life and/or work. So why do we place gateways between ourselves and art? Does education genuinely enhance our appreciation of art? Sure. It can. But does it prescribe our ability to appreciate it? To make it? I believe art is a fundamental human impulse, and our response to it is instinctive. Skill develops in observing and practicing. Knowledge and understanding grow, simply from experiencing art. Any art. All art. Everyone arts. So I practice and I learn and I make. I challenge myself to improve and perfect my making. And occasionally I show what I make.
For me, art is my dialogue with the world. I grew up on debate and discussion between smart, pragmatic
and profoundly independent people. Our entertainment was storytelling.
Critical thinking was not only a required survival skill, but a
central family value. These continue to be necessities of my life.
As a painter, my mandate is to create a story which engages critical
thinking and invites dialogue. To me, this is the best kind of good,
My painting to date reflects a few consistent themes.
• I am always
interested in the feminine. The feminine voice, viewpoint, role,
influence and presence in society.
• I am interested
in unconscious cultural assumptions that are taken for granted until
reflected in a light that makes them visible.
• I am drawn
to religion, myth and faith as themes, including their personal,
political and historical expressions. I am interested in relevant formal representations
of the divine, as well as its day to day aspects, found either in
the conduct and character of individuals or in the conduct and character
• I believe art
is an act of humanity. I think character is linked to humanity
or the lack thereof. I think both are formed by where we place
faith, whether in power, a higher power, or in the consequence of
individual action, be it public or personal. These revelations of
humanity and character, both public and personal, interest me.
• My painting reflects what I learned in my
years in Theatre: the best way to express the universal, to make it receivable and relevant, is through
the personal—and the personal, when it's indulgently personal, is wanking.
• I only paint things or people for whom I
have awe or great affection. I don't have the energy for alienation, nihilism
or disaffection as artistic themes, though I am equally impatient with
unfounded optimism and deliberate naiveté.
• I love the sensuality, energy and comfort
of color. I love the smell of oil paint. I love the relationship
with the substance itself as much as I love the final product. I
want my paintings to contain some quality of the charm paint holds
• I believe in beauty; it has an important place in my art, and I think it plays a real role in transforming the human race.
To me, art is a secular form of sacred practice, on both the spiritual and practical
planes. While the conceptualizing and making of a painting is the
best kind of sacrament—an act that confers grace on those who receive (and create) it—the constant re-examination and evocation
of belief required to eke out the time and resources to make every
painting is a practical exercise in determined, informed faith.
My journey to and through painting is a testament to the spirit
and generosity of a number of exceptional souls who have shared
their knowledge and resources in ways large and small to help me
make my art. I dedicate these pages to them with deepest gratitude.
NOTE: Images of artwork completed 2006 to present will be added by the first of 2009, including new works in the Myth & History, Character Portrait and La Loteria Mia series, as well as a new body of work with the Nature series entitled Meditations on Trees. To see these pieces before the above date, please feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.