My paintings are characterized as industrial, modern, and abstract, blended with elements of realism and atmosphere. They are multi-layered works with areas of surface texture and thick paint, contrasted with smooth brushwork. Drawing inspiration from modernism and modern design, from architecture to people and places, I express in art what I perceive in the world around me.
My style has evolved from my life experiences. I was born in Rochester, New York, but moved to a town south of Detroit when I was young. Raised in an unconventional and artistic family that exposed me to diverse people, ideas, and surroundings, I was encouraged to process all that I encountered deeply. As I gained education, traveled, and took on new roles (guitar player, prosthetic designer, artist, husband, and father), my framework for understanding places, environments, relationships, and contexts expanded. I came to understand the mutual affective connection between physical landscapes and cultures.
I developed my perspective about landscapes and cultures, as well as my style and voice, years ago, while painting a relative’s barn (on canvas) located north of Toronto. The piece was non- representational. As I gazed at the landscape through my unique perspective, I realized how I could tell a story as a visual artist. In my portrayals of landscapes since then, including Detroit, Glasgow, Potsdamer Platz, among others, I realized I was offering an interpretation of the presence, power, and meaningfulness of the landscape to an active cultural participant.
My interest in creating this type of art originated in my early experiences in the Detroit area. The overwhelming industrial buildings, rich cultural diversity, and vibrant art culture indelibly shaped my impressionable young mind. Certain experiences piqued my curiosity and created meaningful memories that lingered. These types of life-defining moments became the source of my artistic inspiration. Like Andrew Wyeth, who developed a painting style to narrate his environment, I chose to paint what I found interesting to explain why the image was significant.
One life-defining moment occurred when I visited Berlin in a November some years ago. I witnessed a vibrant culture with a rich history, traveled by train and foot, shared meals and experiences with friends and fellow artists, and observed sites like the U-Bahn in Potsdamer Platz and the Reichstag. I directly observed how the landscape (i.e., the geography, structures, political, and social) affected culture and how culture had affected the landscape. All of this affected me profoundly and encouraged some of my favourite paintings.
Another meaningful moment occurred when I visited a fellow student in Manchester, England. In traveling through this assortment of unique people, histories, and narratives, I felt a creative resonance with this culture. Walking past the studio that produced bands like The Smiths and New Order, I realized that certain creative hotspots contribute valuably to its culture. As I glimpsed into their lives and their stories, their narratives changed my own—and my art evolved.
I recently moved back to Detroit, which is interestingly called the “New Berlin.” I find that within the concrete and steel buildings manifests a vibrant countercultural creativity that is evident in many forms that add unto each other—art, music, theatre, writing. It is usually in these
cities that are fraught with adversity, challenges, diversity, and histories of rebellion that creativity arises. While convention teaches us what was and what should be, the creative is the voice of what could be—and I would like to be a voice in that vision.