What is important to you?
“Obviously, my art is important to me but family comes a close second. I love my wife, Maria, and my daughter, Angelique. They have always been an inspiration to me. Growing up, my parents Frank and Maria took the best care of my siblings and me. I am still close to my brothers and sisters- Tom in Florida, Jim, Josie, Rosie in Kansas and George and Frances in Ohio, God bless them.”
What do you think about when you paint?
“When I look out the windows from my home, I'm inspired by what I see; I think of the colors and brush strokes.”
What is the role of the artist in the community?
“I tend to be a loner so I'm not sure how to answer that; without artists, society dies; of course, in scant times, the artist is the first to starve; art is life and life is art.”
At what point did you decide to become an artist?
“ When I was in Youngstown, I worked in the rubber factory since everyone did then; it was either rubber or steel. But that was just to get some money, certainly not as a vocation. When I was young, I really liked tennis and was good at it although I don’t know if I could have become professional; I liked golf too but probably couldn’t have made a living at it. I also liked to be outdoors and admired my brothers, two of which became arborists. Who knows if that would have made me happy as a vocation. I’m not sure if I made the right choice since it's always a struggle to get by as an artist but truthfully, I can't do anything else; I can only paint. I had always drawn and painted but after the Army, I made up my mind to try my luck; I went to Phoenix first since it was warm and didn't rain but the artistic community wasn't thriving at that time; in San Francisco, art sold; of course, the weather was cooler, but oh, well...”
Are you happy that you are an artist?
“WhenI do art, I attempt to do my best, and I’ve been fortunate to have been able to make a living at something I’ve enjoyed.”
What do you think of people who consider themselves artists but do other professions full-time or part-time?
“That's ok if they're making a living; you can be a part- time artist especially, if you use your regular profession to keep your art going.”
What gives you such timeless appeal to those who love your art?
“Maybe because I paint using bright colors and my use of perspective.”
Can you imagine having done anything else besides being an artist?
“Everyone wanted me to be an art dealer but that was too much of a headache. The art has to sell itself; there is no secret to this. In the early days, I did everything myself- the painting, the mating, the framing etc.”
How do you think that the art scene has evolved from your heyday compared to modern times?
“The relationship between artist and dealer was closer and of longer duration and less commercial; now, it's a higher turnover. In North Beach, a night club owner would said to me ‘The walls are yours...’ and I stayed to exhibit at for years; now you hang the paintings for a month and the exhibit's over afterwards.”
Are you satisfied with how your art has evolved over your lifetime?
“I did well for a guy who started from scratch.”
Which artists inspired you?
“Lou Gibney and Matt Barnes, the former painted at night since he worked during the day; the latter, an Irishman, used fluorescent paints and glowed in the dark. There was another artist Devencorn with whom I went to art school; he did abstracts of street scenes, long and narrow. These were contemporary artists. Historically, I was most influenced by the Impressionists- Toulouse-Lautrec, especially his use of line; Monet; Manet; Van Gough. I’d say, though, that there was no influence for color. I did that on my own. Maybe to some extent Matisse and Picasso but never had a chance to meet them.”
Where did you live before coming to Sausalito?
“Of course, I started off in Ohio and went off to war when I was stationed in England and Georgia. I returned home for a month and went west to Arizona. When I first came out to California, I went to San Francisco then to Alameda for a year, then back to San Francisco where I stayed on Montgomery, then known as the “Monkey Block”. For a mere 20 cents, I would take the tram to North Beach to the art school California School of Fine Arts on California Street.”
What brought you to Sausalito?
“Mostly thanks to my wife but also because of its reputation as an artist colony. It is such a scenic area; it is inspirational to an artist.”
When did you first become interested in art?
“I started with sketches of the local kids- my friends at school; I continued to draw when I was in the army and made sketches of my buddies then.”
Where do your get your inspiration for your work?
“I am especially inspired when I am in Sausalito with its proximity to the water, the harbor and boats.”
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
“I had no choice; it was the only thing I could do. Before the war, I had been a milkman for 3 years and worked in the rubber factory for 6 years and wasn’t happy to do either one for the rest of my life.
What were some of your favorite past times when you were younger?
“Fencing and archery, although I gave up the former after I almost injured by brother during a play duel. As for archery, I actually painted on some of the bows, in particular, one showed an Indian chef’s head.”
How did you “invent” your style of art?
“I did that mostly by experimenting- mixing and combining techniques; I didn’t try to be different, just myself. When I was no longer an art student, I actually didn’t go to art galleries or museums to avoid being influenced by what I saw.”
What makes your work unique?
“I’m original. Everything I do is from my head. I like to do things vertical and horizontal and elongated. When I do my “people-people” paintings, I like to do a horizontal strip of people offset by vertical banners, streamers and balloons.”
How would you describe your art stylistically?
“I would say that I paint in open colors. I like a place for the color to go up and down and I try to give an open perspective. “Expressionistic”, if you will. I’m trying to express myself. It’s probably hard to label me. I often feel like a musician trying to find a note, the right note.”
What feeling or emotions do you wish to stir in the viewer?
“I try to simulate the rainbow with cheerful colors in my paintings to make people happy. The most important reward I receive is the satisfaction I bring to my collectors and to people who enjoy my art.”
Do you feel that artists are ever adequately rewarded for their work?
“No, since most of the money from a sale often doesn’t reach the artist by the time you have taxes, pay the gallery, dealer, salespeople etc”
Do you feel that art isn't as important as it used to be?
“Art is definitely less important now; perhaps music has taken center stage since a successful musician often makes more than artists; fashion too is probably more popular than art.”
Do you create your work from imagination or models or photographs?
“I’m inspired mostly from imagination, although I’ve traveled a lot and often look at pictures to get ideas.”
Does your mood affect your work and choice of subject and color?
“An artist’s mood is important; if I’m down, I don’t paint as well. If I’m depressed, my palette tends to be darker and the mood more brooding in my paintings. But I tend to be a happy person and that is good for my art.”