I was overjoyed on being accepted into the MFA program at Columbia's the School of the Arts in 1969. It was an exceptional time. The campus was electrifying. It was charged with political and social activism. It was the era of the Vietnam War, student protest, and SDS. There could not have been a more fertile, stimulating and inspiring environment to in which to study and create art.
I was so committed to this belief that I chose Columbia over Berkeley, even though Berkeley had offered me a full scholarship. This was a serious decision because in addition to needing to support myself, I also had a wife and young son to support. So I drove a cab to meet my financial responsibilities. It was well worth it. I had the privilege to participate in a truly significant moment in Columbia's long and illustrious history.
My studio was located in School of the Arts building, which was in an old hospital on 110th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. Its isolation from the main campus made it a peaceful haven in which I explored and internalized the creative stimulation and ideas abounding on the main campus and the larger art world of the New York City. It was here that I created art reflecting these profound influences.
My painting more than my words reflects the impact of the discussions and critiques of my many gifted and prominent teachers; Andre Racz, John Heliker, Leon Goldin, Theodoros Stamos, and Donald Judd who were instrumental in my artistic development. My fellow students that I remember best are Setsuya Kotani, Frank Lusignan, Joe Breed, Nancy Malkin, Ellie Feldbaum, Alex McFarlane and Laurie Anderson.
I started upon the long and arduous path of being an artist as a youth in North Carolina, a path that would bring me to Columbia's School of the Arts and to a 30+ year career as an artist. While still in high school, I began studying painting with Emma Lawson, an acknowledged painter and art teacher. My work with her was brought to the attention of Claude Howell, one of America's pre-eminent regional artists. These two dedicated teachers, the ephemeral natural beauty of my North Carolina homeland, my work under the tutelage of Theodoros Stamos, John Heliker and Leon Goldin are the major influences that still impact my art.
The brilliant blue North Carolinian skies, and the ever changing color spectrum produced by the interplay of sun light on ocean waters is the source of my strong use of color and my constant experimentation with the possibilities of paint and color in my work. My style is definitely painterly. I employ both the color and texture of paint, sometimes using pure pigment and other times using layers of sheer color washes to create the fluidity and movement characteristic of my compositions.
My paintings are forceful and powerful. Studying at Columbia gave me a strong background in formalist approaches and attitudes that continue to emerge in my compositions. Strong color and dramatic design are two of the most profound and powerful elements in my art. They imply time, energy, movement, emotion, and a message. The message is manipulated, usually in a rectangular format, to express my own ideas to be read by a vast audience as their own.
It was at Columbia that I developed a commitment to advocate the expansion of the Mainstream Art World to include ethnic art. Through the strong network of contacts I developed during my student days at Columbia, I opened one of the first art galleries in Soho in 1972. It was American Art, the first gallery in New York City devoted exclusively to showing contemporary American Indian art. It was in that same year that I wrote "23 Contemporary Indian Artists" for Art in America, Special Issue: The American Indian (July-August 1972). To this day I have never abandoned this commitment. I am currently a member of the Multicultural Committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In Short: I'm eclectic. I am constantly accumulating and assimilating experiences and styles as forms of expression... constantly analyzing and reporting a way of seeing into a profounder reality, the Yin and Yang of existence.