I was born in the great city of Chicago, Illinois, in Roseland Community Hospital, and grew up in a primarily Polish neighborhood, where I spent ages 5 to 13 at the local Catholic grade school, St. Salomea. My siblings and I walked there in the morning, came back home for lunch, and returned to finish the school day. If we had a few pennies we could stop at the corner mom and pop store to get a couple of gumballs from the machine, hoping to come up with the striped one for a free nickel candy bar.

I attended Quigley South High School at 77th and Western, a long bus ride from the far south side where I lived to just the regular south side. I took four years of Latin, two of German, and was exposed to radical notions such as racial equality and tolerance for all religions.

My test scores were good, so I applied to all of two colleges, and ended up at Quincy College in Quincy, Illinois, about as far west as you can get and still be in the Land of Lincoln. In my first two years there I was a scrub on the soccer team, majored in Art, and started Salt Lick Magazine with James Haining and Steve Luecking. That’s when I got way into the blues and into poetry. As a junior I lived in Rome. First I studied at Loyola University but they didn’t have studio art classes, so I transferred in second semester to Temple University, Tyler School of Art, where I was taught by Charles Schmidt and Romas Viesulas, and met Philip Guston when he came to lecture in a seminar. With the little money I had, and scraping up whatever I could, I managed to travel a bit, and once even made it to the top of a tower of the Sagrada Familia. The hitchhiking trip back to Rome from Barcelona was on the back of a motorcycle, all the way through the French Riviera, and in Pisa we did a whirl around the piazza of the leaning tower. When I returned to the States, eyes at least half-opened, I attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago for one great year before returning to Quincy to graduate in 1973.

I did my MFA at SAIC, with terrific advisors Whitney Halstead, Ray Yoshida, and Ted Halkin. Down the hall from my space was Donald Sultan, and besides helping him unload barrels of Roplex for his early paintings, I would later do some drywall work for him and Jerry Saltz when they started N.A.M.E. Gallery. When I graduated I was awarded the James Nelson Raymond Traveling Fellowship for a group of small box-like assemblages that I substituted for the paintings I was supposed to be doing.

Working some odd jobs to get by, I managed to hook up with the installation crew at the Museum of Contemporary Art through my good buddy John Obuck. It was during those 5 years that I met Philip Glass, Nam June Paik, Joel Shapiro, William Wegman, William T. Wiley, Peter Blume, and Chris Burden, among others. I was one of the team that built Claes Oldenburg’s fantastic Maus Museum. And I helped Gordon Matta-Clark cut holes in the annex of the old MCA– I mean holes as in holes through floors and the roof– before taking him over to see Buddy Guy at the original Checkerboard Lounge. Did I mention getting to hold a couple Joseph Cornells?  I even played tennis with Eric Fischl, who at that time was married to a colleague of mine at the MCA.

I later earned a second Masters degree, in English, at Michigan State University, and that degree took me to Cape Girardeau, Missouri and Southeast Missouri State University for about 6 months before landing me in Asia, where I lived and worked until moving back to Portland, Oregon, in 2011.

Before I left Taipei I had one last exhibit of sculptures and drawings, “True to Life,” at Wistaria Teahouse/Gallery, a wonderful and historic venue. The Taipei Times published a well-written article about the show.



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