I have no idea why I was chosen to be an artist, but I certainly do feel I was chosen, in some way. I remember looking through my great uncle's private closet. I found some Salvadore Dali monographs. I was about five years old, and didn't quite understand, on an intellectual level, what these paintings were about–– but on a gut level––I was deeply affected. The images reminded me of my own private dreams. I had incredibly vivid, unbelievably complex dreams, as far back as I can remember. At that age I wasn't thinking that art would become a career, but I couldn't get those pictures out of my mind. Never have. I made numerous other discoveries in that closet. A book about Antonin Artaud, who would later resurface as I became enthralled with Jim Morrison & The Doors. Another one was a book of poetry by Kenneth Patchen. Henry Miller was in there. Aldous Huxley. Art Deco. Bosch and Munch. I was extremely fascinated by all of it. These artists and their work grabbed me by the collar and never let go. In the next few years, a definite pattern developed. Even the comedians I gravitated to were cut from the same mold as many of these visual artists.
My parents, who were both twenty–three when I was five, had a blood–red, opaque, long-playing album by Lenny.
THE SICK HUMOR OF LENNY BRUCE,
label, changed my life forever. I played that record maybe a hundred times before I turned eight. I memorized every word; every line of insanely magical dialogue. Even words which had meanings I had no idea about––I
them. They registered on a subliminal, but very distinct level. Leading up to my teens, I thirsted for knowledge and wanted desperately to understand these words and images. Prophetically, I spent a great deal of time imitating, and re-creating words and pictures I couldn't yet fully comprehend. I became a prodigal mimic. My own wildly eclectic style eventually grew from this obsessive emulation. I feel, to a large extent, I have become a product of these formative influences. Having spent years producing art this way, I have come to realize that anything in art that is considered truly, purely original, is perhaps the rarest of commodities. I consider my work to be highly original, yet I know that I owe a great deal of my ability as a creative entity to the ever-present influences of my favorite artists. I am still involved in the fine art of mimicry, and proud of it. I am hoping that I never become so intent on originality that I lose sight of the work that helped to mold and inspire me along the way. I am one of the few artists I know who can get excited about
piece of art I see. There is literally nothing that someone has created that doesn't touch me or spur me on to my own endeavors in some fashion. I went through a phase when I became what I called a “modern–art snob.” I would look at, for instance, the Renaissance paintings; the Rococco, or the Pre-Raphaelites, and be completely turned off. They all looked so similar, and so incredibly
I would scoff, and always take refuge with Picasso and Rauschenberg. I craved the ultra-modern, stubbornly shunning the old masters. Then, one day very recently, I was looking at some reproductions of El Greco, De Heem, Ingres, and the others. I had a genuine revelation. Athough my natural instincts remain with the Cubists, the Fauvists, the Abstract Expressionists and the like, I began to realize all the inherent beauty and mysticism overflowing in the works of these ancient giants. I could indeed receive tremendous inspiration from their truly colossal achievements. Now I could grasp their motives, and sense the visionary fever these works arose from. Although I still did not aspire necessarily to the methods or styles, I did begin to fully appreciate the monumentality of the pristine imagery and timeless themes. I experienced a child–like happiness––ecstatic just to be able to lay witness to the results of such heroic creative acts. Now I am at a point in my own creative existence where I can see the worth and the beauty in all works of art, no matter from what school or style––on what level of ability they were made. I have opened my sphere of appreciation literally to the point where I can be just as inspired and/or influenced by the work of a ten year old student, as I am by the work of a bona fide master.