ON HIS ART . . .
I've delved into a variety of disciplines since I was quite young, including Eastern
and Western mysticism and Apache tracking methods. I'm fascinated with the human psyche and understanding how to navigate
the invisible. I guess you can say that much of my work reflects the power of nature and human consciousness, and the place
where the two intersect.
As a self-taught commercial screen printer and fine-detail sand carver on glass, I
have a great eye for detail. You can see that in all of my paintings. I love to improvise my way through a painting, although
my work probably looks fairly planned to most people. The one constant you'll find in my work, however, is my desire to
lift the human spirit. I want to inspire the sense of wonder in you when you stop to admire one of my paintings.
I started painting in 2000 after a 27 year hiatus. I've just started getting out there this past year and working
to get established. I didn't start painting because I just couldn't live without it. On the contrary, I had never
expected to paint again since I walked away from it in my mid twenties. In recent years I had been working with a SF non-profit
organization (www.visionyouthz.org) developing a wilderness self-awareness and rites of passage program for incarcerated teenage
males. One day, I realized that I was asking these guys to metaphorically walk through the fire, the very thing I had failed
to do with my art. So I quit directing in order to paint. It was a rite of passage for me. Interestingly enough, it has developed
into my life's passion.
To me the beauty of being here is all in finding the rabbit holes. I love to inspire
others to discover the magic in their lives, especially young people - not only at-risk youth, but also affluent teenagers
who are equally at-risk but in a different way. It's no accident that it was young people that gave life to my artistic
It wasn't until 2005 that my art actually paid my bills for a year, although I had been selling
art and taking commissions up until 1975. I spent the year (2005) painting a forty foot historical mural commemorating 150
years of Jesuit education in San Francisco (www.siprep.org). Right now I'm still primarily supporting myself through
commercial screen printing, mainly in t-shirt work. I've never liked doing commercial art very much, although I have occasionally
done a t-shirt design here and there. I have a few notables out there like the SF Mime Troupe design from 1976 and more recently
the "No Enemy" logo that's been floating around in certain circles. My first commercial art job was the design
for the Rio Nido resort in Russian River in 1975. It recently made its way back to my shop after circulating around town for
about twenty years. Talk about déjà vu!
I've worked from home since 1984 and I mostly do contract
printing of other people's designs. I still enjoy it after 32 years. Bill Graham used to bring mountains of printed shirts
over to our shop on 10th and Howard to heat set their inks. That was around 1976 when Winterland Productions was just a fledgling
business. We'd hang the shirts on racks with metal hangers and roll them into a plywood room with 300 sun lamps and wait
for smoke to start billowing through the cracks. That's how we knew they were fully cured. Pretty low tech, but it worked.
I recently had been doing the shirts for TV's The Biggest Loser show. Those types of jobs sometimes help to pay the bills,
but being a one-man manual shop does have its limitations. In the past I've done some national displays from my garage
like the B of A Photocard stations that you used to see at branches all over the country. It takes a lot of energy to be that
versatile. Today I'm mainly focusing on printing shirts while developing my own fine art, although I'll still take
on an occasional interesting (and good-paying) project.
At this time my focus is painting on recycled interior
doors. You can read a lot into that statement. After having painted the mural at St. Ignatius High School, I suddenly wanted
to paint larger formats. My wife asked me to do something about the peeling door that led to the garage because we were having
a party in a couple of days. The next morning she woke up to find it beautifully muraled with a romantic pastoral setting
and a love poem silkscreened in metallic gold. I knew I had something. I have literally fallen in love with painting
doors for other people to walk through.
My grandmother taught me to paint when I was very young. She was a traditionalist.
Unlike my canvases, most of my doors are along the traditional line, mostly landscapes. Although I might add that my
latest door is entitled "Ohm" and is rather surreal. It started as a tribute to psychedelic artist Rick Griffin,
but halfway through morphed into something entirely different. It ended up as a tribute to South SF using an odd mixture of
the psychedelic, genetic, and mystical symbols, with some Longhorn cattle thrown in for good measure. I don't know where
these doors are going to take me, but it should be an interesting journey. My goal is to be known as a very accomplished local
ON BAY AREA GALLERIES . . .
I've been showing my canvases and doors at different
Bay Area venues most recently at South First Gallery in San Jose and the Eclectix store in El Cerrito. I did a two-month one-man
show in the Caldwell Gallery at the Redwood City Civic Center last year. Right now I don't have any major shows lined
up, but will be showing in smaller venues around town, so keep an eye out. I will be showing a few of my latest pieces
at a one-night affair at The Mezzanine in SF on June 2 (www.chillinproductions.com). In terms of other artists work,
I don't have a favorite gallery but Open Studios is a great way to see some fantastic local artists.
THE INSPIRATION PROVIDED BY SAN FRANCISCO . . .
San Francisco is a unique place to grow up and the Sunset district
had its own magic if you were willing to metaphorically navigate your way through the fog and stucco. Places that influenced
me greatly as a kid were Playland at the Beach and Sutro's Museum with its Egyptian mummies. I was fascinated by those
places. The sound of howler monkeys from the San Francisco Zoo mixed with the barking sea lions and fog horns sifting through
the night fog and only heightened my sense of mystery. As I got older, the musical sounds wafting through my bedroom window
on summer days from the free concerts in Golden Gate Park began to open other horizons for me. I think these experiences taught
me something about appreciating the unusual.
So much of my inspiration has come from the City in one way or
another. Many people go to great lengths to connect with something deeper amidst the great cathedrals of nature. For me, much
of that connection has come from the City. I have found much of my spiritual expression in the marketplaces, the parks and
the inner city. Sutro Park, Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park have at times been my sanctuaries, and I have discovered personal
spiritual vortexes amidst the concrete slabs of the most unlikely places in the inner city. I think having been raised here
has left me with a keen sense of personal history and that somehow is translated to my art. The beauty and the strangeness
of this place is obvious. I can point to specific places and recall extraordinary experiences from different times in my life
and how they helped to make me who I am--the mystical, the mythical, and the mundane. There are so many snapshots that define
a person. Somehow these all work together and manifest as my art, some are real, some imaginary (home.eartlink.net/~artika
"The Courage to Change").
ON WHERE HE CAN BE FOUND IN THE CITY . . .
find me at 19th and Harrison at the Vision Youthz office. I still do some work with incarcerated teenagers, although not as
much as before. I live in San Bruno, but do spend a lot of my time in the City. My mother is 91 and still lives in our house
in the Sunset, two blocks from the beach. We visit Louis' Restaurant next to the Cliff House often. Most of my time in
the City is about connecting with people, so I'm more event-oriented. I sometimes teach a class on primitive fire making
or animal tracking to teens, or an occasional tour of my Spiritus Magis mural at St. Ignatius for visitors or students. I
also designed a class for high school students last year called "Through Ohlone Eyes" that I've taught at the
restored Lobos Creek in the Presidio. I do spend time in the county park behind my home getting as close as possible to the
IN CLOSING . . .
What I have learned from experience is that hoping and trying are
weak options in life. You need to have a real passion to get where you want to go and you have to know what you want.