March 1 - March 29, 2014
I cannot separate the processes of becoming from the process of painting. This is something which is particular to me and not meant as universal. I did not intend this, it is not an extension of how I believe an artist should approach his work, it’s just how it worked out for me.
In my early 30s I applied to the Yale M.F.A. program for all the wrong reasons and to my surprise made the final selection process. I interviewed with Andrew Forge and Bernie Chaet. You have to understand I grew up in Jackson, Michigan and knew who these guys were before I moved out East. It felt as if I were a comedian and had made the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson—a bit awe struck. Two things came out of this which turned a light bulb on, however not brightly enough to light the room. Bernie Chaet said, ‘I was good enough but I don’t know what you want’, I couldn’t answer him. I did not make final cut and was sent a letter by Andrew Forge stating that my work was respected and before I took disappointment to heavily to make an appointment and speak with him. I did this. I went to his office in the Art and Architecture Building at Yale on a big blue summer day, I felt as if I were entering Valhalla. After greeting and sitting across from him at his desk, he kind of pushed back in his chair, folded his hands and said, “Your work—he paused for a moment—is tentative”, my first crit, the real-deal. As far as I was concerned he wasn’t talking about my work, he was talking about my life and I knew then, for me, the two were inseparable. It would be another 10 years before the stars constellated such that the room was fully lit—The Conversion of St. Paul on 95 North.
I started going to an open figure session at Creative Arts Workshop on Friday night to paint. I wouldn’t get out of work and off the thruway until 7:00 p.m. The session ended at 9:00. The only spots open would be jammed up against something and I’d think, ‘o.k., So!’. I’d do a 10 count of breaths in/out to get the thruway out of me and then it was if I were jamming through 20 years of indecision and just—Go! My hand took the lead and I followed, I didn’t care anymore; I didn’t care about Yale, New York, or having dinner at Odeon with Julien Schnabel. I only wanted one thing—I wanted the painting, nothing more, that was it, that was everything—I was going home.