In August of 1997 I began art school at Munson Williams Proctor Institute of Art. At the time the school was transitioning into the upstate extension campus of Pratt Institute. Bright, new facilities (the best I’ve ever had access to, anywhere, any time) were there for us to cut our aesthetic teeth on, and an energetic faculty with a sense of the coming transformation challenged a really great group of students during those transitional years. Recognized artists such as Sam Salisbury and Silas Dilworth, among others, were there in and around the same years I was.
It was during my first weeks there that I was exposed to two images that would define much of the next decade of my artistic life. There, spread out on a table in the large painting room were two books (among many others). Two images – one from each – caught my eye. The first was “Twilight” by Odd Nerdrum, the second was an iconic Ocean Park series piece by Richard Diebenkorn. I clearly remember the paradoxical exclamation that leapt into my mind as I gazed at the two works that seemed separated by a huge gulf: “I want to do THAT!” – meaning both.
I’ve spent the last twelve and a half years working to reconcile them. And though I’ve moved on to deeper and perhaps more legitimate inspirational sources and muses, I find that key moment during one of my first official art classes still hangs with me. I’m grateful for it.