My memoir Kiss of the Art Gods chronicles a thirty-year struggle to find my way as a contemporary figurative sculptor.
The story begins in the late 1950s in rural California. I am a child coming to terms with a catastrophic flood that has destroyed our family-owned ranch and shattered our well-being, installing in me a fierce pride, a resiliency, a desire to excel at something. However, the trauma will plague me for a lifetime.
My education begins on the clay deck of a destitute farm and then ascends to the gilded academic stage. I share with readers the many eccentric personalities, creepy oddballs, and worthy teachers who inhabit my childhood, and I continue this narration throughout my Army experience in Frankfurt, Germany. The European deployment seasons my countryside persona and gives me a craving for the arts.
I then journal my college experience in the radical 1960s, where I study art and weigh the enigma: What is art anyway? After graduating from UCSB, the authentic twenty-year art struggle begins. At this point in the story we see how much the human spirit can take. I hide the readers inside my humble studios and give them a close-up view of the comical brutal gauntlet of artist survival, first in Spain, then in Hawaii (where I hang with a teenage Barack “Barry” Obama), and finally in the gritty industrial section of West Berkeley. Fellow artists will relate to my personal battles with art dealers, one of whom I beat senseless.
Having some successes but not being able to discover “it,” I give up my twenty-year quest of supporting myself as an artist. Then an unforeseen revelation helps me realize that my obsessed behavior was concealing the missing PIN of my elusive art puzzle. With the last piece in place, I am able to uncover “it” and rapidly develop into an accomplished figurative sculptor.
Now in my late sixties, I have supported myself as a sculptor for twenty years. I have shown in New York and in museums, and I’ve had twenty one-man shows across the country. Looking back on those years of struggle, I wonder how I possibly endured. However, as mind-deforming as the situations were at the time, they seem laughable to me at this point in my life.
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