It is a sunny, crisp early Saturday morning. Jennifer and I sit outside at a Starbuck’s on W. 38th Avenue, near the former Elitch’s.
May I ask your age?
…Two weeks into being 63 years old.
How long have you lived in Denver?
I have lived here for 26 years. Actually, I was born in Denver. My parents moved us to Colorado Springs when I was very young and I lived in the Springs through high school, then on and off.
Can you tell us a bit about your early years?
When I was 13 I saw a movie called “David and Lisa,” which focused on a romance between two primary characters who were schizophrenic. Seeing this movie was a cathartic experience, and from that time onward I knew I wanted to work in the field of Psychology in some capacity.
Was art a part of your life when you were young?
For sure. I always drew and painted, and my parents were supportive. My mother always made sure I had sufficient art supplies. I also had art classes in junior high and high school.
And when it came time to go to college?
I went to CU Boulder to study Psychology. I stayed for two years, dropped out to go skiing, then transferred to CU Colorado Springs, where I received my BA in Psychology. In my final semester at school I enrolled in a drawing class, and this changed the direction of my life. My plan had been to get an advanced degree in Psychology, but I gave up that idea and decided to focus on art.
While working in the counseling field in Colorado Springs after school, I enrolled in art classes at UCCS. Eventually I came to Denver to study at UCD. It was a total immersion in art; drawing, painting, and studying contemporary art history. It was a wonderful time. One of my instructors was Sally Elliot. She was fantastic, and she suggested I consider joining Spark Gallery. That’s what I did -- in ’95, I think.
Did you want to continue your formal education?
I was thinking about graduate school to study art, and actually made a half-hearted attempt to get into Boulder at one point; needless to say, I didn’t get in. I decided that being with other artists was what was important to me, not so much studying art any more. I didn’t have to make my living as an artist, as I already had a job in the counseling field at a crisis facility. Opportunities for showing around town came up, I was accepted into Spark, and voila—this is what I’m still doing today.
Tell us about the influence of spirituality in your work.
For almost all of my life you could say I’ve been a seeker. I was raised in the Christian faith, but by the time I was in my 20s, Christianity seemed to make less sense to me. For almost 30 years I have been practicing meditation in a path called Siddha Yoga. ‘Siddha’ means wisdom or perfection; ‘Yoga’ means union with God—or with the Truth, if you have a hard time with the concept of God. Lots of my art reflects my spiritual truth.
Can you elaborate?
My art makes an inquiry that can be spiritual, political, psychological, and it has to have content.
The content is about finding the truth—who we are. I think we live in a time of massive transformation; perhaps this will include a transformation of consciousness. If this transformation can in some way be depicted in my art, then I am happy, then I have succeeded.
How would you describe your art?
For quite some time my work was fairly realistic. I worked with pastels on black velvet creating still lives and scenes of people. The work was colorful. Then in about 2001-2, I gave up perspective and background and started painting in acrylic on recycled boards. My painting became primitive and child-like in appearance.
What precipitated this change?
I wanted to create a body of work that would incorporate the artwork produced by my clients at the crisis facility, where I was teaching an art class. My clients gave me permission to use their art in an anonymous manner, to protect their confidentiality. I would establish some themes and we would create art. Much of their art had a certain primal or primitive quality. If I wanted to create a larger collage that would blend their work and mine, it was necessary that my artistic language adjust.
Was this adjustment difficult for you?
It actually was liberating. This new way of working came to me in a natural way. There was a subtle and enduring transformation, with the work starting to flow more easily. Ideas for gallery exhibitions presented themselves without the usual stress and worry.
Do you have any expectations of the viewer?
I like to have discussions with people after they have looked at my work, to learn about their responses, to discover if they are pleased or disturbed. It does not bother me if people breeze through an exhibition of my art. Whatever they take with them is fine. I am happy with myself and my art, and that is sufficient.
Any final thoughts?
I want to thank Spark Gallery for being welcoming to me and my art. It is an exciting place for me to show my work.