Spanning more than four decades, the inspiration and creative motivation for my personal expression comes from the issues and events of everyday life, present and past, public and private. Through various media, my artwork has examined the fragile, ephemeral, and sometimes elegiac nature of human existence. I have been, and continue to be interested in creating visual art that can transcend the physicality of the material surface and be a vehicle for emotional and intellectual contemplation, as well as a metaphor for the fragility of the human condition and the world during my lifetime.
The Elegies series of works express the sadness and sorrow felt about some of the tragic events during my adult life such as the human loss and suffering in our American cities due to racial struggles and gun violence, the Vietnam War, and more recently, the conflict in Ukraine as well as the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building. These works echo a statement by the German artist Gerhard Richter, “art can express profound mourning while remaining the highest form of hope.”
The Dark Times/Escape from Reality works were prompted by a deep concern for the current dark and polarized period in America and are metaphorical explorations relevant to politics, social and racial issues, violence including predatory sexual abuse, and religion. I addressed distinct events that have contributed to the present crises, as well as themes that escape the harsh reality in this “Age of Trump” through the lens of satire and surrealism. The elegiac artwork April 4, 1968 Elegy, created with ashes, chrysanthemum flower petals, and acrylic paint, is based on a black and white photo taken by LIFE magazine photographer Henry Grosinsky on the night of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the riots that occurred in a number cities throughout America following his assassination. December 14, 2012 Elegy, poignantly expresses the overwhelming sadness of the innocent children and teachers who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School with paint and dried roses. Long Night (Surreally and the Underground), prompted by the symbolism of the winter solstice, is a visual journey from the dark underground night inhabited by a number of satirical versions of key characters involved in current domestic and global tensions, to the arrival of the sun and the hopeful portrayal of people seeking peace and refuge.
In the Forest series of works explore the metaphorical and representational qualities of being in the forest; it is a place where light and darkness, good and evil, order and chaos, danger and fear and peace coexist. It is a place where reason is not the norm, a place where accident, chance, and randomness prevail, and a place where memory and history converge. I created these works utilizing traditional acrylic paint and mediums, as well as natural materials or objects from the forest on my small Pennsylvania farm and man-made or manufactured materials.
The Surveillance series of paintings are "appropriations" of the pixilated surface of a television monitor which has recorded fleeting images directly or indirectly related to criminal activity that has temporarily made national headline news. The paintings consist of multiple layers of translucent paint applied with either a brush or drywall knives and emphasizes the ambiguity and sense of mystery inherent in the source images, now clouded by memory; like a garbled or muffled announcement heard over a public address system. As with the cases connected to the appropriated images, much information remains unknown or unresolved in these paintings.
The Tribes series of works are a visual exploration of people with different interests, beliefs, and agendas existing in conflict. The works consist of two or more human-scaled rectangular panels, and involve surfaces of natural and/or manufactured materials including tree bark, soil, cowhide, sugar, veneer brick, vinyl siding, and carpet, in addition to traditional acrylic paint and mediums.
Views or personal observations of nature, especially within and around my small farm named MARBROOK near Spring Grove, have been another ongoing direction for my artwork. Interpreting the forms, texture, color, and light of the ever-changing spring stream or forest has been a fascination and challenge for me.
Almost Forgotten News paintings and drawings express the fleeting impact of news events I experienced or witnessed through the media of television, magazines and newspapers. The events have come with such frequency that we have become almost too numb to react. We tend to want to forget.
Heroes paintings are based on military photographs of American troops from Pennsylvania killed during the “War on Terrorism.” These works question the notion of “hero” in the context of war, examine the anonymous nature of sacrificing a life for a country, and explore the meaning and definition of patriotism.
The Victims works are based on photographs of victims of the attack on the World Trade Center. As elegiac art they celebrate as well as mourn the dead. Coal ashes of different tones have been mixed into acrylic medium to evoke the horrifying cloud that choked Manhattan on September 11, 2001, but unlike the images made on that day, the works reveal expressions that belong to other times. They are faces of everyday happiness, warm, hopeful, intimate—and ghostlike, lively faces suspended in a haze of grief.
My technical process is slow, repetitive and deliberate, although at first glance the opposite may seem evident. Choice of media and its manipulation are determined by the expressive meaning I am attempting to achieve. Regardless of my preconception or vision of what the work should look like, the work takes on a life of its own as it develops. I become involved in a cycle of evaluating what I have done in relation to my original intentions for the work. I imagine what direction the work may develop, apply the medium or media again, evaluate, and so on until the work achieves a certain emotional level or expressive quality. I may finish a work in a few days or weeks, but I have also taken years to complete a work.
I have been, and continue to be, interested in creating visual art that can transcend the physicality of the material surface and be a vehicle for emotional, spiritual and intellectual contemplation, as well as a metaphor for human existence, especially within my own time.