I paint my life. From the very personal to stories, ideas and historical moments that interest me to the trees, birds and flowers that I love, I make paintings that work towards a clarity of subject or idea that express and evoke feeling.
Making art in our harried, hurried, daunting, dangerous and often cruelly violent world may seem like a futile gesture, but I view it as an essential pursuit. The paintings on cave walls from 18,000 years ago attest to the creative impulse being as much a part of the human experience as the destructive and with these painters I throw in my lot. These artists did not, could not know or imagine that their effort to record their lives and experiences would last thousands of years and teach us about prehistory. I recall seeing the outline of a hand on one cave wall and the poetic symbolism telling us “I am here.”
As I was growing up, the only great threat to humanity was nuclear annihilation, that press of a button that would in one hour destroy our planet earth and all of us. As I age, we now face the nuclear threat as well as a climate crisis that cannot be halted perhaps only mitigated. I have long been involved as a peace activist and currently serve on the national coordinating committee of United for Peace and Justice. I view my work for peace as integral to my creative efforts.
Yet still I make paintings to insist that our experience should be recorded, our stories told, our world transformed to a distilled and crystalized image.
I concentrate often on what I love and find beautiful and have made tree, flower, rose garden and leaf and bird paintings for decades. I work to evoke a sense of the fragility of life on the canvas.
In addition to my extended series of nature paintings, I make large-scale, full reach paintings on cultural and historical subjects such as Resurrection, pictured above. Over the past twenty years I have made a number of portrait paintings of musicians I love – Hootenanny (more than 60 portraits of folk musicians), Rock and Roll Women I and II (Patti Smith, Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt and several other iconic women), Lennon (from 1994), and currently I am finishing a painting that I call Homage to The Band. A number of paintings are ideas from songs – such as She Once Was (from a line in Dylan’s song Girl From the North Country). Other paintings look at crucial issues in American History are How I Cried for Chief Joseph, Men of Science, and Folly (on wars from the Trojan Horse to the atom bomb).