I was born in Palm Springs, California a while ago and raised in San Diego. I got my MFA at Rutgers University and was fortunate to have Geoffrey Hendricks as a mentor. He was an amazing, intelligent, compassionate man and helped me find myself as an Artist. After school I struggled to make a living and ended up in Corporate life.
All that time however rewarding financially was soul crushing. I always felt that I was meant to make Art, but wasnt until the last 2 years that I dedicated full time to Art. I am starving but happier than I have ever been. I paint on average 12 hours a day, about 330 days a year, and being in the studio so much is bliss.
I believe we all as viewers bring our own meaning to Art, but I get a lot of questions on what it means to me personally, so here goes - this current series of paintings was inspired by gay life online, how we present ourselves to each other, how we treat each other.
There are lots of ways we communicate in the gay community, through phone apps and websites. Dating sites, hookup sites, groups pages inside Social media platforms. And in all these I started seeing declarations where guys outlined their preferences, but not in the positive tense, rather the negative. And in broad strokes too. No fats, no fems,no asians. Are you clean? was often a text I would get, or Clean Only was used as a declaration. I began to wonder what is clean anyways?
Stating ones preferences in the negative was almost affronting, and so I wondered how fine the line was between taste and discrimination. Had we really fought for years for equality only to discriminate against each other?
I have always been drawn to the pool in my art. Metaphorically, its filled with water, and so are we - Body fluids and cleanliness were a jumping of point for this current series. Those who are inside the pool and those who are outside and the different viewpoints and the views are often distorted ones - just like the conservative views of the gay community, and vice versa. I love distortion and so it is a frequent part of my work and I enjoy pushing the abstract shapes that occur in water environments. Pool cleaners hum around working to make the water crystal clear like Prep and meds do within our veins. The pool is another world that is part of the world around it - just like the gay community is an integral part of the overall society. The water in the pool and us has been shared by every other living being since the water developed here - there is a history to it.
When I was in school years ago I started painting guys in pools. I often get compared to David Hockney by followers on Instagram. It used to get my goat as they say, because I paint nothing like him and I think the comparison is simply due to involving a pool. But as I thought about it, there is no doubt he was a huge influence on me. I remember seeing Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) when I was a kid and being in awe. There in the painting was the pool I felt I belonged to, the pool of gay men, portrayed and honored by the entire world, out in the open. Not hidden or something to be ashamed of. I felt accepted by the world through this single piece of Art. It was transforming on a personal level. While Hockney showed the pool to the outside world from the outside, I wanted to show that world from inside the pool.
The work started with a small group of archetypical behaviors but has expanded and become a snapshot of our community as I have experienced it. Our community is so rich and diverse, and I can only paint so fast, but is slowly unfolding, each painting like a chapter in a very long story.
Bears, Otters, Twinks, Daddies, Asians, Blacks, Latinos, Caucasians, Queers, Masculinity, Femininity, Judgement, Joy, Fear, Desire, Love, Curiosity, Sexuality, exploration, Thrupples, Couples, Discrimination, Taste, Bondage, Submission, HIV, all have made an appearance in the story so far. The truth is as the series unfolds I am starting to se it as a family portrait of sorts. Recently I saw a Facebook post by a friend where he said family is lost and family is chosen. This series is my chosen family.
I have felt sometimes like the paintings for me are similar to one night stands. For 2 weeks I go to bed loooking forward to waking up and seeing them. I love them, I fight them, I dream about them. Then when they are done I hang them in my house to dry and I am off on to the next guy. I come in for lunch and while making a sandwich I glance up, see the last painting, and think to myself, Oh, hey man. I finish the sandwich and run out the door to my studio and the new guy. But the love for each guy never goes away, and I hope you as a viewer enjoy them as well.
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