About

  • BIO

     Humbleness

    So the story goes that I was born in a blizzard on the kitchen table during lambing season on the 5th of March 1933, the first day on the upward slope from March 4th, the officially lowest point of the Great Depression.

    Not long after, as I snuggled warmly between my parents, my Dad was dreaming he was sorting the lambs. He mistook me for a black one and promptly threw me into the pin for culls — that is, the cold floor of a share cropper’s house in an 8000 ft. elevation mountain valley in Mosca, Colorado (Mosca has been translated for me from the Indian word as meaning fly speck). Share croppers meant that we (Mom, Dad, my Sister and I) had accumulated enough machinery, tools, and reputation for a property owner to let us live on his farm, farm it, and share the profit, if any. Humble indeed, yet rich in freedom and a wide variety of “stuff” to create from. I don’t recall even having a concept of a state called boredom.

     Early Background

    My sister and I rode horses to a rural two-room school where I had only three teachers, all women, for the first seven grades. I went to Alamosa i.e., “town” for the 8th grade. There I lived in a boarding house and worked as carryout boy in a grocery store after school.

    By my freshman year our folks had their own farm and could afford to take time off in winter and send us kids away to school. I ended up at Kemper Military School in Boonville, MO. The first few days there having someone dictate exactly what to do with virtually all my waking hours, mixed with homesickness, was one of the most enormous shocks of my young life.

    My time there gave me, however, a robust and rigorous education and two other experiences that have shaped my entire life. It gave me my first taste of athletics, and I have been hooked ever since. It also showed me the irreplaceable value of discipline and exposed me to a depth of commitment and endurance within my self that I cherish to this day. It’s hard to overstate the value of constantly being called on, at an early age, to demonstrate that I had the capacity to exceed my expectations.

    During my senior year, back in public school again, I had already completed most of the academics in military school so my high point, besides girls, was football. We won state championship one year, affording me the opportunity to experience the utter rapture that comes from having done something of great intensity in cooperation with other people in an atmosphere of total commitment. That era was the start of a life-long appreciation of the feeling of my body in action and the desire to share that feeling with others. I believe this awakening of my senses was a major contribution to my desire to learn more and experience more in every facet of my life from sports to physics and later to art and especially to my Buddhist practice.

    The Korean conflict began during this period, and I joined the navy where I became a Salvage Diver doing mostly underwater repairs and salvage work. We worked in crews and shared roles as diver and diver-tender. Since we literally had each other’s lives in our hands, the work was exciting and the camaraderie wonderful as our crew spent all day practically every day doing something intense together that we all loved.

    When I got home from the navy I farmed with my Dad and Mom, raced cars, got married and had my first child, all in rapid succession. I also knew before long that farming did not satisfy my quest for new understanding and experiences. I enrolled in Adams State College in Alamosa Colorado my hometown, where I quickly settled on physics as my field because it seemed as though everyday, wow, I learned something new.

     Professional Life

    Although I had financial help from the GI Bill, it didn’t begin to support my family that by now had grown to four, so I worked full time as well as going to school. While working in a gas station I met a crew that worked on an exploratory oil well. Since I was interested in geology I asked enough questions that I ultimately landed a job on the drill rig as a roughneck (a guy who handles the drill pipe going in and out of the “hole” and any other cold dirty job around).

    After a few months seven nights a week was just too much for a full time student so I moved on to a night job as a heavy equipment operator (cat skinner) building a reservoir and doing some land leveling (finally an art connection). Yes, I learned, after a few bobbles, to sculpt the earth within a tenth of a foot with a D8 Caterpillar. Put that in your resume.

    The night shift ended in the winter, and my next job was driving big rig cattle trucks for a rancher and cattle trader. That work was perfect because it gave me extended periods of driving time when my mind was free enough to visualize and cogitate on the physics and math concepts I was studying at the time.

    I loved all these jobs because I was a part of or was controlling the very powerful forces of huge machines in a very dynamic way that was almost like an extension to my body at times. When you climb up on a D8 Cat and light that baby off, man, it FEELS LIKE SOMETHING.

    One of the classes I took was engineering drawing. The drawing itself was made simple by the use of drawing tools, but I still got to feel the satisfaction of rendering something. One project was to draw a wood plane in perspective and shade it. YESSS, the seed was cast. I repeated the class just so I could go in to the drafting room and draw because it mellowed me out and I enjoyed it. When I worked the “night tower” on the oil-rig I had to go directly from work to my first class which was my geology class. Spattered with drilling mud and stories from the field, I was the icon of the class. Later I could come home, clean up and go to the drafting room anytime I wanted to and just chill.

    I graduated with a degree in math and physics and minors in geology and chemistry (subtle way of saying overachiever). After several weeks of excruciating jobless anxiety I landed a job in a section of Dow Chemical Co. that contracted with the Atomic Energy Commission to fabricate parts of nuclear weapons. When I called my wife to break the good news she asked what the salary was I had to confess it never occurred to me to ask.

    I was hired into their nondestructive testing group. That was literally all I knew about it, but I was pleased to be a working Physicist and to then know what that felt like. My job turned out to be, in a very broad sense, the internal imaging of materials, primarily with X-rays. I was able to extend the portfolio of imaging devises to include ultrasound and eddy current forms of energy. My creative work was recognized with a job offer from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in Livermore, Ca. I accepted instantly and I was off to California. AT LAST, no more ice and sub zero weather!

    In order to contribute anything of substance in these arenas I needed to know more, particularly of the math and physics of wave propagation, so I attended night and other classes for another 12 years. I applied this knowledge to numerous assignments at the Lab; the most involved and taxing was under ground nuclear testing that, of course, I will not elaborate on.

    Sometimes people seem surprised that I have made what they consider to be an unusual leap from physicist to artist. In fact, the transition seemed very natural to me. Working as an experimental physicist, I analyzed the interactions of energy with objects to further “see” and portray their qualities. For example, after lasers were developed I worked out a method to use optical holographic interferometry. Briefly described, two sequential holograms taken of an object undergoing a displacement can be used to make a very accurate measurement of the surface change without physically touching the surfaces. It was very pleasant working in my lab with beautiful red laser light illuminating all the objects.

    Transition to Art

    I started taking art classes at Las Positas College a couple of years before I retired and later, after retiring, at Chabot Junior College, followed by two years at both Cal State East Bay and Chabot simultaneously. Basically I could have saved a lot of narrative by just admitting I have been going to school my entire life with no intention of stopping.

    During these years studying and practicing art I wanted to do large sculptures, and that was not possible in my home or the schools’ studios. With the help of my art teacher and a very art-minded relator we were able to find a really excellent place for a studio in the industrial area of Oakland (see “Studio” page on the Home menu bar). I share this place with up to five others at any given time and have really learned what I know about the art and engineering of large sculptures with these other artists. The name I chose for the studio gives perhaps the best word picture: Our Art Studio.

     Inspiration for my art

    Feelings, Love, Beauty, Nature, Injustice, Sharing

    My first real contact with sculpture and sculptors was in Hong Kong while I was in the Navy. Alone on liberty, I wound up in a factory where workers carved furniture with relief scenes telling traditional stories of China’s past. Their work so impressed me that I bought one of their hand-carved liquor cabinets, carried it back to the ship, and convinced the chaplain to store it in his area for the trip home.

    Watching the carvers touched me in a way not often expressed or even fully felt at that time in my life. I was awed by the intricacy and skill of their highly detailed, BEAUTIFUL work. I felt stunned when I found out that the artists were paid only in meals of rice and that some of them slept in the street near the factory. Inexplicably, those two feelings of awe and sad-shocked injustice felt similar in my body, and the similarity remains surprising to me to this day.

    I am telling this story because the graphic display of beauty and callousness and my inability to resolve the nature of my two feelings have cemented this memory in me for more than sixty years.  Intuitively, I sense this story has been a part of the feelings I am drawn to express in my own art.

    On a recent trip to an area of spectacular fiords in Southern New Zealand we hiked out along a glacial stream up to the foot of a glacier. From a distance the beauty of the dazzling, crystal-white, creeping giant had me in tears of tender love. Once at its foot, however, the beauty was smothered by the rubble left by the glacier itself “violently” grinding over the terrain. Those totally disparate feelings for both the beauty and the destruction were again totally overwhelming. Overlying both, the most jarring part of the experience was the knowledge that the rapidly receding edges of the ice field, clearly visible in the scars on the mountainside, was due to our own unwitting contributions to a warming climate.

    As these two stories illustrate, my feelings are easily overwhelmed by the wonders of nature (including mankind) and its cacophony of beauties. I am just as easily overwhelmed by (my perceptions of) ugly injustices afflicted on nature and its members. Some how both these responses seem integral to my work.

    I intensely feel connected with these many often conflicting aspects of life and am driven to do something that expresses those feelings. Two pieces that I feel particularly express these connections can be seen under the Featured menu. They are Basalt Enshrined and Compassion.

    Throughout adulthood I have been aware of three general aspects of life: that which is experienced by my senses (my body), that which is going on in my mind/brain and SOMETHING ELSE. That elusive “else” has really been rekindled in digging through my past and writing this bio.

    What I haven’t elaborated on yet is my Buddhist practice. I have been meditating in the Zen traditional way for twenty years and started, by my definition, a practice which is stimulated by the burning interest in my intuition that there is something else going on here that is just out of my reach.

    Wrapping up, the inspiration of this artist’s life might be summarized: what are we doing here on this planet, what is there to do and what would it feel like to be doing it; how does this all relate to such extreme experiences as violence and beauty, whether among humans or in nature; and how can it all resolve into a harmonious whole?

    Conclusion

    In writing this it was fun for me to rummage through my past to try to see what role my overall life’s experiences have contributed to my art and to work with my lovely wife to try to communicate that to you.

    It seems to me that I have had a very rich variety of experiences that has served me well in my professional work and in my art work. I have always had a strong curiosity and drive to explore new things. What is life all about and how can I experience being alive through involvement in its many possibilities? For example: what is it like and how does it actually feel to be an athlete or a cat skinner, to jump out of an airplane or to be a physicist or artist? And how do all these feelings and experiences integrate together?

    As I’m ending this, you might wonder why I haven’t said much directly about my art work itself since that is the subject of this website. I’m hoping you will explore that for yourself by browsing the galleries and looking at the stories in the featured items.

    For those of you who have made it this far THANK YOU for the opportunity to share it with you. I hope you will see some of the traces of this story in the art you see here.