a) I was born in Brooklyn in 1953. Since my father was a painter I grew up with art. “I have been obsessed with making art longer than I can remember, (or so I’m told).”
After serving a year in RISD in 1973, he knew that what I needed was not more schooling, what I needed was to understand my self—the primary tool of The Work. So I began to study and practice the discipline of (Zen) Non-dualism in Europe and the US for the next 16 years while making art.
In 1989, the toxic nature of oil painting led to a year of cancer. During that year I came close to death and studied life from that perspective. That time away from the world opened revelations about the nature of my work and the virtually untapped possibilities inherent in the medium of comics as art. In 1990 I moved back to NY (the Catskill mountains) and began making comics.
By my third comic I came to the attention of Roger Ricco of the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in NYC, who came knocking on my door. On September 13, 2001, I had my first one man show at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery —a story told as an 11 page comic (each page measuring 30" x 50"), drawn in pencil on paper, two days after the World Trade Towers fell (“The timing felt like a mythic wink”).
I have published six graphic novels. I am the only person to have ever received two Xeric Foundation grants to publish. One of my books has been translated and published in France by L'association, Paris.
I have been working for the last six years on my eighth book and I have been showing the pages with sculptor Tricia Cline (also of Ricco/Maresca Gallery) who I work with very closely and whose images and experiences come from the same Non-dualist allegory.
In this my eighth book I am attempting to draw every impossible thing I can see inside as well as out.
q) How would you describe your work?
a) I make books whose by-product is art. I am drawing a sequential stories through the lens of Zen Non-dualism, allegorical dreams in which my heroine; River Scout Finnagain, travels through archetypal stages of realizations to finally arrive at her Self.
This story (my eighth book) couldn't be told better in another medium (nothing holds more directly the silent life of observation-in-light as a metaphor undisguised) then the pencil. My drawings are spoken in a careful language of conscious vectors summing into "still-points" where life's attention waits, gathering silence.
My pages are a sequence of images in a formal proximity that initiates a narrative (inductive-deductive) flow which solicits from the viewer intuitive leaps to bridge the space between pages - leaps through their own non-linear space of Self.
Art is a metaphor for being fully conscious, it mimics Self-Realization by seeing so thoroughly, so seemingly instantaneously "Now" that the viewer is suspended in "Aesthetic Arrest" and experiences observation free of thought. This is my Work.
q) Did somebody encourage you to become an artist?
a) Yes. My father, a math teacher I had as a kid named PapaWolf, and an art teacher I had in High School named Eat Lions.
q) What is your favorite medium?
a) Pencil – it is so kind and willing.
q) Can you describe your process, from the seed of an idea to a complete work?
a) My work comes from a kind of knowing that I know nothing about, I would like to say I wait for instruction but in fact I am so behind in what has already been presented to me that things have been falling by the way side for years, many entire books are long gone.
This latest book I am working climbed with me out of a dream about seven years ago. It is an autonomous creature with its own breath, and I am just its worker. In each page, I am presented with a complete Image, and for love of it I must create a kind of sculpted language of vectors to describe things I haven’t the slightest idea how to. So I just continue working at it until it shows it self, no matter how long it takes. I just don’t give up.
q) Generally speaking, where do your ideas come from?
a) I don’t know. Or… they come from some place prior to thinking, where feeling and form are indistinguishable, (where thinking doesn’t stand in front of experience), and Images belong to themselves.
q) How long does it take to complete a piece?
a) A month - two months - three month … what ever it takes.
q) Who are your favorite artists…and who are some artists you are currently looking/listening to?
a) Tricia Cline, Haruki Murakami, Agnes Martin, Rumi, Rilke, Neruda
q) Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
a) In Los Angeles: Obsolete Gallery, In New York: Ricco/Maresca Gallery.
Just group shows for now
q) Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?
a) I do a meditation that I cobbled together from reading Nisargadatta
q) What is your favorite A) taste, b) sound, c) sight, d) smell, and e) tactile sensation?
A) Water that has just come out of a mountain spring and has no taste
B) Tricia laughing hard
C) The early morning sun in a clear sky
D) The top of my granddaughters head
E) Tricia Cline
q) Do you have goals that you are trying to reach as an artist, what is your 'drive'? What would you like to accomplish in your 'profession'?
a) My profession is perception, the art work is a by product of my research in awareness.
I would like to accomplish total Self Realization as an ongoing experience (except that, to say that, then turns it into an object separate from a subject - and once you generate duality like that there’s only hell to pay). I would like to live in pure experience without the interference of a single thought.
q) When have you started using the internet and what role does this form of communication play for you, personally, for your art, and for your business?
a) I inherited my first computer, from a friends death, in the mid 90’s (big thanks to Chuck). The internet’s usefulness hasn’t changed my world so much as the computer itself has. The computer has saved me years of work time and made publishing for me possible. If you understand how a film shoot works then that would tell you how I prepare for a book. Creating a script, scouting locations, preparing actors, props, shooting everything and more than everything by digital camera, downloading immediately to see if we have it, and/or shooting more until every possible tiniest bit of information is gathered. Then by way of photoshop collaging all the information into a single page that closely matches the vision. And finally through the language of pencil bringing the image into reality with a single subtle voice that is without judgment.
What takes me a month to do with the speed of a computer would take me 6 months to do without a computer (and digital camera).
Comrade-X (my computer) is only second to the great Red Pencil herself.
q) What do you obsess over?
- Witnessing my thoughts as separate from my Self (which is just a way of backing-up into experiencing the sublime).
- Being honest by way of Pencil.
- Everything in my Work.
q) Do you have preferred working hours? Do you pay attention to the time of the day or maybe specific lighting?
- Early Morning
- No, I have constant light indoors - no windows – I could be anywhere and Nowhere. I go outside to see the world
q) Do you do commissioned works?
q) Any tips for emerging artists?
a) I think the following is one of the most important poems in my life, not for its beauty but for its true encouragement. Everyone who makes art should give it to everyone else who makes art. It is a kind of virtual no-holds hall-pass for all students of art.
In the words of Robertson Davies: "Feeling is the point. Understanding and experiencing are not interchangeable. Any theologian understands martyrdom, but only the martyr experiences the fire."
Feeling is the point, So. . .
A Poets Advise to Students (by e.e.cummings)
A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feeling through words.
This may sound easy. It isn't.
A lot of people think or believe or know they feel-but that's thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling-not knowing or believing or thinking.
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you're a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself.
To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn't a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time-and whenever we do it, we're not poets.
If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you've written one line of one poem, you'll be very lucky indeed.
And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world-unless you're not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.
Does this sound dismal? It isn't It's the most wonderful life on earth.
Or so I feel.
q) Your contacts