I'd love to say it was me that grabbed the beast by the horns and rode it, rodeo style, into the wild blue yonder, but it was more like I was stuck for work, in the midst of a crisis, and in a moony state of mind. I tunneled in as I'm want to do and thought long and hard about what I really enjoyed, especially as a kid before thoughts of work crept in and played with the path signs. And what do I come up with? Art—ta-da—the thing every guidance counsellor tells you about with a cringed look on their face.
Then, all confused, the brute whacked me. I made a painting and sold it by accident. I used the cash to buy more supplies, made more paintings, and sold those. Somehow, I won a contest. People started to come around and ask for commissions and someone even said I could have a career here. I could? That was a decade ago and mostly I haven't looked back, only when I look at my bank account, which, well, okay, is almost every day.
My muse, the subject I've come back to again and again has been the modern environment, the one cut with roads, subdivided, walled in, electrified, and slathered with makeup; the one we've built for ourselves and other livings beings to exist in, for better or worse, stretch marks and all. The one we don't want to look at but must. As the great Philip K. Dick wrote, "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
Within this general zone of reference, a certain slippery condition I call cumbersomilely strange beauty in the midst of everydayness, or maybe found visual poetry, tends to come around and poke me in the back, and no matter how much I look out for it, it pops up when I don't expect it, like a rainbow, though the kind in a grease slick that most people overlook, not the arc over Disneyland.
I'm also a sucker for middle grounds and intermediate zones where human culture and nature meet and intermix, where things get grey and hard to categorize: the "urban jungle," a graffitied wall laid siege to by weeds or shrubs, electrical wires buzzing through a thicket of trees that could use a haircut.
It's endlessly dramatic, land, and the landscape. We work it, play on it, and call it home. We fight for it, seize it, measure, systematize, privatize, socialize, rebalance in, find ourselves in, stage, gentrify, ignore, romanticize, poison, flatten, contour, seek adventure in, tame, flee from, and make art with it.
Once I could admit I was, alright, maybe, an artist, I promised, fine, but I'm choosing this for reasons that go beyond the big house and corporate ladder, and so the work needs to be honest, both to myself and others. I need to say something and nourish the soul over the long haul, so no shortcuts, no gimmicks. It also can't be boring, because boredom kills. In a conceptual sense, then, mucking around with new materials and approaches is an important part of the game. I paint in watercolour (because it's the bloody hardest), ink, acrylic, aerosol, and oil. Sometimes I combine these, work in collage or graphite, add earth or ash, or even use extreme heat as a paintbrush. At other times, too much freedom and baroque annoys me and I go Zen, pushing just one medium and a few colours to a point of transgression.
Beyond painting, I sculpt in iron, concrete, and other industrial materials when I have the facilities; I translate from Italian/Spanish/Catalan to English; write fiction (these days an historical novel about a priest, midget, and courtesan in late Renaissance Florence); and I play the violin very badly.
Before artiste, I was a plasterer and punching bag, I mean, high school teacher, and I've lived and worked like a stowaway of yore in enough countries it's hard to keep track of, but most recently I was in Italy for a year.
Born, as they say, in Canada's most erotic city, Guelph, Ontario, I currently reside with my spouse and our two girls in the simulacrum known as L.A.
(And no, if you're wondering, this was not written by an artist statement generator, even if I love those.)