I graduated from high school in the Front Range hamlet of Berthoud, Colorado after living a happy yet uneventful childhood underneath the wall of the Rocky Mountains. Later, after spending a year smack-dab in the middle of Kansas in Sterling College, I returned to finish my BA in Painting and Drawing at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley (after taking a lengthy break in the middle working not-so-great jobs and playing bass in a band called Forest Foam (if you want to hear/learn more, click on the link to the newer incarnation at playdoughsonics.com)), I decided to try something completely different and go someplace new - Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington State. This small step has started my endless wanderings that still continue to this day.
During that year, I met my future wife, Claire, and came to conclusion to continue my undergraduate studies in art. It was after graduation (and another two summers in national parks) that the fun really began. We packed up from our little winter hut in Ashford, WA and went halfway around the world to Fukuoka, Japan to teach English to high school students. I stayed for two very fun and life-impacting years there before spending all of our hard-earned pennies to travel for six months around the world (well, Asia and Europe). We then settled for a very short time in Oregon City, OR before moving onto greener (whiter?) pastures in Eau Claire, WI while I worked for the Regional Arts Center and Claire taught Japanese in the area high school. However, this again only lasted a couple of years before the world again called, this time to the trumpet of graduate school.
Recently, I received an MFA degree concentrating in Painting in Bowling Green State University in Ohio. However, that is not the all of it; really, it is only the beginning. The first year of my graduate studies was spent in Florence, Italy, studying at the Studio Art Centers International in the heart of the old city. I was blessed by being surrounded by the never-ending glories of times-past as well as being able to study techniques I would not have been able to any where else, namely fresco painting with my good friends Mario and Luigi (yes, THE Mario and Luigi). It was a monumental year for myself as well as for my art. Only another step in my endless wanderings.
Bowling Green, however, was a different sort of year, a year of huddling down and getting to work. The wonderful distractions of Italy were slowly fading away and in its place was the somber (and inexplicably flat) beauty of the Midwest countryside. I found many who shared my passions and was able to find solace in my work, my friendships, my wife, and the wonderful support (and hefty pushing) of my committee and my chair, Charlie Kanwischer. It was a year of broad change in my work and my understanding of what and why I made the art that I did. I came into the program someone who painted cityscapes which focused on the interactions of planar forms and left someone who found inspiration in the flat, interlocking forms of the landscape.
Now, I am back in Eau Claire, WI, painting, working as a gallery director and living in a 1940s rambler with Claire and our daughter, Lucy. Currently, I have replaced the extreme horizontals of the Great Black Swamp of northwestern Ohio with that of the movements of the hills of the Northwoods of northwestern Wisconsin. There are a lot of similarities between the two environs, namely in the agricultural base of the economies and the worked nature of the land that goes along with it.
My work changes ever with me, especially with the addition of my two wonderful children, Lucy and Max. My wanderings may have slowed some, but I hope they will never end.
Currently, I am in my third year as part of the art faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire instructing the studio art students in Foundational studies, along with Introduction to the Visual Arts. It is a marvelous opportunity to teach others what I know and to be taught by them.
It seems I am always drawn to quiet places, those places where you can sit, relax, take nothing and seemingly everything in, places which are easily overlooked in our busy, day-to-day grind. These are the sites where I am able to recharge, reflect, to begin anew. Recently, I have found through my graduate studies in Florence, Italy and in northwestern Ohio that I have become entranced with these seemingly mundane spots, most notably the cloisters of ancient churches and the worked fields of our own backyards. It may be the myriad of their rhythms, the lack of overpowering stimuli, the evocation of timelessness, the knowledge that everything has had the imprint of human hands that I have found my solace in these locales.
My technique reflects the places I reproduce. By using a vocabulary of repetitive, simple shapes and color fields, the clutter of the details become less important while still being able to infuse the images with a calm and serenity without losing focus on the forms of the land. Either the sky or the earth dominate the canvases as the colors become scratched, worked, layered in an attempt to reveal the underlying workings of man while still showing the dominance of nature.
The Quilts reflect a global cohesion and kinship that I feel is sorely lacking in the modern America of mass-produced media. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for the non-American to be portrayed in a negative or second-tiered status. It is as if the Melting Pot has now closed its lid.
By traveling through the world, I have found this contemporary concept as both backward and inaccurate. People are people everywhere, whether they have no television or twelve televisions, an SUV or a water buffalo, a Game Cube or a round piece of cardboard and a stick. We all laugh at the same jokes, tell the same lies, love the same way, cry the same, drink the same tea. We are all on the same journey, walking through it one day at a time.
My paintings are composed of buildings, homes, religious structures-places that are the building blocks of society. I have neglected the natural world for that of the more immediate world of people. Portals (windows, doors, wall-openings) are thrust to the forefront of these buildings. This is where the interaction between the indoors and outside world takes place, where people correspond with their neighbors and with their natural surroundings.
Using broad planes of flat color, I have intended to remove any sense of detail, which confuse and distract the viewer from looking at the whole. I feel by using this style of painting, I have removed the color from a photograph, leaving the structure and form to stand out. The skeletons of the buildings become the focal point, showing how one structure is easily interchangeable with another. Places of origin are ignored or forgotten. The world is tied slightly tighter.