1. How did you get started in your craft? (using your media)
I’ve been making art since I was a kid. I started to take it seriously in high school and then pursue it in college, where I was first introduced to the ideas of creating non-representational art. In the sculpture studios we used to collect raw materials to eventually use in our work. In the beginning of my sophomore year, one of my classmates had come in with some wood and he put a piece down in front of me, which probably didn’t measure any bigger than 10” square. It had layers upon layers of peeling and cracked paint, was all worn and dried out, and looked like it had been run through the ringer… something he probably found in a dumpster somewhere. The back of it still had a couple nail heads stuck into it and paint splatters. He threw it down on the table in front of me, pointed to it, and sarcastically said, “That’s art.” I can still remember it like it was yesterday. It was like an epiphany and it just opened my eyes like they had never been before. That you could find beauty in something old, weathered, or worn out. … something that was accidental, or that otherwise looked like it just happened naturally over time. The art I make today is still a reflection of that.
2. What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?
For my “day job”, I have to deal with a 45 minute commute into my office. Half of it is spent on back country farm roads, the other half is on the highway. I see surfaces and elements all the time that catch my eye… like little vignettes… whether its the side of a barn that’s in disrepair; or the back tailgate of big truck that has oil and water stains all over it; or the rusting steel on the side of a dumpster. These are the kinds of things that I keep in mind when I start a new piece.
Lately, a lot of my influence also comes from the various markings and lettering or numbers that I see on these surfaces. Most often times these go unnoticed as well, but the next time you’re driving down the PA Turnpike, take a look at how many random sets of numbers you see on trucks, the side of the road, on jersey barriers, or the backs of construction signs.
3. Who are your favorite artists in your field?
If you had asked me this question five years ago, I probably would’ve rambled off the names of famous abstract artists that everyone and their mother knows. But to be honest, lately, my favorite artists have been my peers and folks that I’ve met locally where I live in the Lehigh Valley. In the past few years, I’ve come to know, and be accepted into, a huge visual arts community that is constantly amazing and inspiring me. I love the sculptural work of guys like Tom D’Angelo and Khalil Allaik; or the abstract paintings of Nancy Bossert and Michelle Neifert; or the collage work of Femi Johnson and Patti Tinsman Schaffer. Artists like them, and many more, are constantly producing work that quite simply humbles me.
4. What is your favorite customer quote or story?
I recently took part in an open studio tour down in Chester County. One of the afternoons I had a conversation with a customer who I had been describing some of my processes and influences to. He told me a story of how he used to ride a train into Philadelphia when he was a kid. And every so often he’d get out of his seat and go hang out between the train cars. He would stand there as the train was riding along, watching the scenes go by, but also staring down at the tracks and the components of the two train cars coupled together… the iron clasps, the bolts, the various mechanics… He said my work was reminiscent of the things he’d see while standing there and one piece in particular reminded him of those train rides.
5. What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?
I had an uncle who owned a flower shop at the base of the St. Regis hotel in NYC. Back in the 1970’s, Salvador Dali used to stay at that hotel and he would often come down to my uncle’s shop, rummage through the cases, and grab flowers to use in still lifes. Gala, Dali’s wife, would usually follow in behind him and pay for the flowers and any damage he did. Over the years, he also paid my uncle in artwork. I have a print of a young Christopher Columbus that he gave him. My uncle in turn gave it to me for trade of one of my paintings that I had done while still in school.