My Story

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Over the years my art making had been sporadic.  I was always interested in art and went so far as to get accepted to Cooper Union in the 60’s.  However; I did not stick it out, returned home to Baltimore and went to work.  My career spanned twenty years in retailing punctuated by two years in the army.  Subsequently, I worked for twenty-nine years for Catholic Charities, first in Washington followed by my last job with Gallagher Services, a program of Catholic Charities in Baltimore a program whose mission is “Opening Doors to a Fuller Life for People with Developmental Disabilities and Those who Serve Them.”

During my working years art took a back seat. That changed when I went to work for Gallagher Services.  Part of my job there in development involved some graphic design.  That, coupled with my living around the corner from the Maryland Institute College of Art, prompted me to take courses in drawing and painting. I was back into making art.  Though a series of chance experiences, I was fortunate enough to share a studio with John Ferguson, an accomplished sculptor.  John’s studio became a creative space for me for almost 10 years.  There I began working in metal sculpture and eventually got back into painting. I recall that at Cooper Union there were many discussions, both in class and outside the classroom, about the virtues of abstraction versus representational art.  I’ve never resolved that issue in my mind.  So, I decided that my sculptures would be abstract and my paintings and drawings representational.  The first sculptor that caught my attention was Jacque Lipschitz.  Christopher Wilmarth’s sculptures have been an influence and of course John Ferguson got me started working in metal.  Early painting favorites were Van Gogh and Modigliani.  Currently Fairfield Porter, David Hockney, Chuck Close and Richard Diebenkorn are recent favorites. 

I retired in 2013 and decided to move to Maine after thinking about it for some time.  Many of my paintings had been of Maine.  My mother was from Maine and my childhood summers were spent in Searsmont Village in Maine.  That experience and many summer vacations since planted the images of the Maine landscape and its people firmly in my mind resulting in my move in April 2019.

The river

runs under the bridge
into the swimming hole,
through fields,
and around wooded hills

Branches of trees
arch over its banks
and tumble into the flood.

Wild things,
and farmers’ fields
people its discourse
with the land.

Its liquid boundary
embraces the village
of our memory,
now, and forever.

Summer vacations at my Grandmother Mary’s home in Searsmont were like another life away from Baltimore Maryland. Those eight weeks each summer were like Disneyland for me and my brother Mike. The allure was amplified by our mother’s stories about growing up in Searsmont.  Then we got to spend summers in her hometown that for the most part had remained unchanged.  Grandmother’s house was a cape cod with a wood burning stove for cooking and heating and two sheds and a barn. There was a sawmill behind the house.  Milk was delivered from Packard’s farm up the road. The river where we learned to swim and where Mike liked to fish was across the road. Mike and I also swam at Quantabacook Lake with friends of ours who lived in Belfast and had a cabin on the lake.

The pond,

a character in our play
muddy bottomed mirror
of a summer day,
ran on until the end of our imagining.

Its part was dashing,
full of high adventure,
and a little dangerous.

But all the same,
it was a friendly body
of frogs, pickerel, bass and eel.

In its sparkling embrace,
we swam, and rowed,
and fished the days,
till we grew up and went away.

Dad always brought us up to Maine, stayed a week and returned to Baltimore.  He would return for a week at the end of the summer to bring us home. Needless to say, the trip by car and sometimes train was always part of the adventure.  One of my distinct memories of those vacations was my mother Elizabeth’s plein air water color painting. I think that her interest in art was the initial spark for mine.  Returning to Baltimore each August marked a reentry to another world one that I was not as comfortable in.  One dominated by school, church and sports.  It was a world in which art did not register as a serious subject. 

My father Ralph had some ability in art but not much interest.  On the other hand, his sister Mercy Ann was an accomplished painter in the impressionist/ash can school.  I was able to spend the summer with her in Woodstock New York between my year at Cooper Union and the beginning of my working life. During that summer the only painting I did was painting her clapboard studio with its 20 windows, storm windows and screens.  At a show of Stephano Cusumano paintings in Woodstock village, Aunt Mercy and I ran into Stephano and his wife.  He was my drawing teacher at Cooper Union.  I was apologetic about not having made any art that summer, but offered that I did paint my aunt’s house.  His comment was that many painters in the Renaissance had started out as house painters and not to worry.

When I traded school for work, I discovered that the work world was one in which I could flourish and where I spent fifty years trying out and putting to use all of the skills that had eluded me in school.  My work in customer service, human services, management, and development was exciting and absorbing.  Through it all I retained my interest in art which will carry me through my next chapter.