Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.”
~ Samuel Beckett (source)
Imitation is the best form of flattery. For the past year, I have passed Intermedia Arts on Lyndale Avenue in South Minneapolis and found it interesting that they are following a variation on my blog’s theme about how art changes lives by painting a wall mural proclaiming art changes everything. I am glad my blog has served as an inspiration to that art organization, and other artists and folks seeking a moment of solace and inspiration.
An only child in a dysfunctional family I found myself lost in my imagination at a very early age. Drawing, coloring, play acting, and creating tunnels and forts were the staples of my play. First grade, I found color and began forming my own aesthetic through what I call, now, scribble art. Using a pencil or crayon I would draw a series of loops on a page and fill each section with color. My poor classmates had to endure numerous “show and tells” as I would show my works and talk about the colors and what I discovered. I have to admit. I had a friend and she and I would share our techniques. That year my parents separated. I didn’t know it then but it centered me and helped me through that transition.
Through the rough times over the next few years. I would draw… battlefields, airplanes, cars, collisions and a myriad of other subjects. In the fifty and sixties, my toys were cheap. Pencil and paper were all I needed. I escaped into the two-dimensional surface before me. When I was learning to write perhaps that was my introduction to typography. I loved it…. the exercises introduced me to line and shape and as long as I was drawing I was happy. Reading never came easy to me… but drawing gave my ego a boost and taught me I could do anything.
Around third or fourth grade, I discovered the human figure. My life drawings got me into lots of trouble and looking back my fondness for the male figure was clear sign of things to come and probably helped me acknowledge my sexual identity sooner that most little boys at the time. The sixties and seventies was not the ideal time to come out as a gay man but… I did and I attribute my drawing and self-awareness contributing to my ability to acknowledge and retain my dignity in the process.
From third grade to the middle of the seventh grade I lived with my aunt’s family, I was not a happy camper and envisioned myself as a boy cinderella, a lesser than part of my aunt’s family. I am ever grateful for the roof that they provided. Most grateful for my father’s support and love… My mother was largely absent. That was the year I read Gulliver Travels… As I worked buffering the tile floors for my aunt. I would begin to create my own Gulliver Travel tales as I stared at the specks in the linoleum tile. There were many kingdoms created, as well as, a large number of cast members. I guess it was almost a “Horton and the Who” scenario. I was an unhappy child but …. had a world of friends at my feet
I have to go for now but I will continue this brief story of how art changed my life.