I have been fortunate to be a full-time practicing artist for over sixty years.
Now, in my my 85th year, I can only look at my previous work as a preamble. I work daily, exploring, discovering new inspirations for new images. Knowing the vastness of the unknown becomes ever clearer.
The lifelong story of my artistic approach is to question creativity itself and where it comes from. Is it really about the artist/creator as the author of metaphors; the biographer of illusions? Or, is it more about life and the influence of life’s connected events which result in the measured evolution of the imaginative act?
In the mid-1950’s I studied painting under a professor who was a disciple of Hans Hoffman. In the sixty some years since, my art has passed through many transformations. In the same way I, as a person, have evolved. Life and Art, the two are still analogous paths; side by side, my work has always reflected these many passages.
One of the journeys of great impact in my artistic development took place in 1960. As a young adult, I traveled across the United States and saw for the first time the great expanse of the plains of the Midwest.
Visually what I experienced was profound. The Horizon Line. I wrote in my sketchbook, “You can turn 360 degrees and see nothing.” From Kansas on, this line spellbound me. A line that was the division between sky and the wide-open prairie; uncluttered space, empty space with this hard, crisp line intersecting. It was the essence of being alone. Nothing man made, just me, the sky, that line and the earth below. I identified with the loneliness, as deep inside I was on my own with this great vista. I wanted to walk into that simplicity alone.
As a child, on many levels, I was accustomed to loneliness. Visually, what I witnessed translated to deep emotions. I saw what I as a child had felt. I found in the natural world a human emotion. In the years to come, this emotion would translate into images of empty space divided by a single horizontal line. The tie between the visual and the emotional self would merge.
Creativity has been a voice expressing a deep personal desire to speak of the broad spectrum of human emotions. Our state of existence . . .
The creative process, as often as not, is cluttered with human frailties. Still, art is a subjective manifestation of those frailties, an expression of both the pain and the joy of life. The pain of the internal search and the joy of the found…. expressed!
The one absolute truth of my life has been my art, a visual communication of poetic perception, a reflective state of an authentic search. At a given moment in time that creative expression becomes a composite of the entirety of this person’s being . . . bringing all the creator is to that discipline.
In the mid-1970s looking up towards the sky my imagination was captured again, this time by clouds. Images we often take for granted, seen every day; above the horizon line filled with abstract forms of light and atmosphere, the ever-changing poetry of clouds.
Creation is often described as a movement from an eternal unformed and unchanging dark chaos. Sky and earth lie together in a changeless embrace until forced apart by their offspring, who drive a wedge between them producing light and movement. My paintings explore these creation dynamics. Why did our early ancestors pick the meeting of sky and earth as a creative beginning?
Each of my later paintings is a creation whose subject is creation. Sky and earth are usually male and female in myth and from this polarity all other things derive. Without polar tensions there is no motion and no story. Thus, the sky and sea/earth are always divided by a horizon-wedge keeping them in tension and producing clouds, which, in their movement and reflection of light, bring temporality and process. Nothing changes more quickly than clouds, whose shape and color can announce brutal violence or reflect glorious spectacular light through which our consciousness seeks to gain unity with nature.
While every work of art has to achieve a balance of the tension or forces that motivated it, my paintings include a sense of imminent future which is full of potentialities. Most of my clouds announce better and maybe greater events are about to happen. The paintings reveal the “world” of our moment in a more relevant way.
“Explain your development, your intentions and your goals in creation and production.”
Why continue this quest? The answer is not complicated. My art is my Life.
Creatively I see the future of my work/life as a continuation of providing a means of uncovering the core of our collective evolutionary message; our intuitive understanding and cumulative experience ingrained and transmitted through generations since the dawn of time. Creativity is the search for our shared universal awareness.
This entry comes with my desire and my hope that it will lead to the opportunity to share my work with people in cultures and countries other than my own.
I am a West Virginian by choice. I carefully chose a remote mountain top where there is a richness of:
- PRIVACY, no interruptions, devoid of all man made distractions;
- TIME, to work, to be introspective;
- SPACE, to breathe freely and search for answers.
In 1977 as a recognized artist and teacher, I consciously sought the above. To realize a dream… to find an unspoiled natural environment, design and build a home and studio in order to focus exclusively on my creative endeavors.The year 2017 will mark two key milestones in my life. I will be 80 years young and will have lived half of those years on a remote mountain top in rural West Virginia.Recently I was in the process of updating my résumé when it occurred to me that a résumé is as impersonal as the paper it is written on. It is a lot of dates and events. These events, however, are the results of dreams, desires, and passions which in reality is a more accurate portrait of whom this person is. In recent years, the who and why has become far more important than the what.I can honestly say, at this point in my 80 years of life, the egocentric drive for artistic recognition has declined. As I have matured, I have come to understand that perhaps recognition of self by self is the substances of actuality and authenticity.On this journey called life as we become older and more accepting of our selves. The need to prove or validate our existence through other people is no longer consequential. All that matters is the truth of whom we are and loving that person along with our fellow human beings unconditionally. I personally feel the single beneficial motivation of life centers upon the compassion of the connections we share with our fellow humans.The creative soul is different and pays a heavy price for that difference, generating an inequity from the point of view of the artist.The very real personal hunger and sacrifice contained in the creative act becomes a commercial commodity. The artist’s life made manifest on canvas becomes a decorative accessory. Is a man’s art simply another person’s ornamental trophy?Are the owners of a Van Gogh reminded, when they look at his paintings, of his short life? Are they reminded of how he ended it? Or is the work’s significance recognized only as a financial investment? Perhaps in the polite society of collectors one does not deliberate on the intimate life behind the creations hanging on their walls. Yet, the images are a documentation of its creator’s innermost thoughts.I recognize that all art must stand on its own merits. The life of its creator is incidental in the long run.In time my memory may fail me,In time memory of me.But, the paintings will never forget.PROFESSIONAL CHRONOLOGY (abridged)Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV – Opening July, 2017 ~ February, 2018“For The Joy of Light” Interactive Multimedia InstallationCollaborative installation involving large scale paintings, accompanied by dynamic sound and viewer interactive lighting; original music composed by German musician, composer Dan Morro. This exhibition brings together nearly fifty years of experience: “I seek a means of involving, all human beings, not as viewers, but as participants in the ageless impact of the creative emergence. A means of uncovering the core of our intuitive understanding and cumulative experience ingrained and transmitted through generations since the dawn of time . . . . . . These paintings document my search for our shared universal awareness.2015 – Landes Art Center, Petersburg, WV (30 Year Retrospective)2009 – One of 51 contributors to the book Tea with Elisabeth celebrating the life of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.2005 – Honor . . . Recipient of The State Journal’s “55 Good Things About West Virginia.” Article . . . in the State Journal2003 – “Until I Become Light” Award winning film documentary aired on PBS and other venues across the country. Produced by Real Earth Productions.1987-88 – Artist in resident – DeSisto Schools, Howey-In-The-Hills, Florida – Established an art department for Desisto College and held evening classes for the local community.1985 – 1995 – Served on the Board of Directors of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center.1983 – One week Master Class, Huntington Museum of Art – Huntington, West Virginia, sponsored by the Tri-State Arts with assistance from the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Department.1980-82 – Two year Artist in Residence, Grant County, West Virginia. Sponsored by the Grant County Arts Council with assistance from the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Department.1986 – Benefit show – Donated twenty nine works to raise funds for Maitland Art Center, Maitland, Florida.1983 – Twenty-Five Year Retrospective, catalog published by Maitland Art Center, Maitland, Florida.1977-87 – Represented by Vorpal Gallery, New York, New York and San Francisco, California. Ten One Person Shows at the New York gallery.1977 – Inclusion in book titled Twenty American Landscape Painters, Watson Guptill, Publisher.1977 – Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee. One person show. (Multimedia Light and Sound production – “First Light”)1976 – Feature article in American Artist Magazine.1976 – Special presentation, John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. (Multimedia Light and Sound production – “First Light”)1973 – Listed in Who’s Who in American Art.1972-74 – Artists at Work, touring invitational show – throughout U.S.A.1972 – Film documentary – WMFE PBS, Orlando, FLorda, PBS.1971-72 – North Carolina National Bank, touring group graphics show.1970-74 – “MacDowell Fellow”; MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire.1970 – Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, Juried group graphics show, two purchase awards.1966-71- Fifteen Best of Show and First Place awards, juried competitions.Works have gone into the permanent collections of Museums, Corporations and private collections as far away as France, Japan and New Zealand. List of collections can be provided.TRAINING1955/56 – College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia1956/57- Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VirginiaStudied painting under Theresa Pollock, a student of Hans Hoffman.1961 – Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., Internship to study museum presentation. Under the auspices of the Jamestown Foundation and the Commonwealth of Virginia.