A Gallery from the Rich Vein of Paintings done in the late '80s and early '90s: and how the GIFT of creating Art saved my life!

"City/Self Mandala," the first painting of this series (1990)

[Note: At the bottom of this page, below these paintings, is a link where you may read the entire short story that tells the wonderful tale mentioned in the headline above.
ps: I had been doing Art as a grown-up for around 15  years already, but this Gift of daily "going down a deep well" and tapping into a visionary Creative Wholeness there on a daily basis, was astonishing...and also...badly needed at the time...incredibly healing!] 

"Touching the Soul,"  below, became a kind of logo. Begun as a pencil mandala drawing upon getting up one morning while still at the halfway house. Gradually became more and more colorful. 

"African Dancer": This period in New York City was really the time in my life when I lived a painter's life. I was fascinated  by the innumerable sights of New York, and carried a sketch pad with me most everywhere I went. It was the only time when I was thrilled  to "draw from life". And by that I don't mean in a studio. The wonders of Coney Island, the Staten Island Ferry, and the African Dance classes I took with the great teacher Djoniba Matteut at the New York Dance and Skate Studio on Lower Broadway. Thrilling to recall! 

"Angel of the Staten Island Ferry": Began as a drawing "from life" of a busker on the ferry as I went back to the island from the Art Students League one evening. I made it into a painting a few days later. 

"Universal Mother":  A longtime favorite with viewers. It may have been done a little later, after I moved to Myrtle Beach in late '91. 

"Clowns at War": Another favorite, that resonates at a couple levels. One just never knows what's gonna come up! 

"Angelic Symphony" (1992)

"At Grandpa's House" (1990)

"The Balance" (1992): I did quite a few male/female balance pieces during this period.

"Ring of Bright Water" (1993?)

"The Sun and Moon in Love" (1993?)

"Fairy Tale"

"The Burden"

"The Spirit of Music"

"Eye of Wisdom": One of several paintings inspired by the African Dance classes I went to several times a week at the Broadway Dance and Skate Studio in Lower Manhattan after my classes at the Art Students League.  One day I had a class with some older drummers and a teacher from Senegal. They were in their African garb. They were so peaceful, so graceful, so loving. And it occurred to me that they were the "Peace Corps" that their country had sent to ours! IT ISN'T A ONE-WAY STREET! And so this painting came about. Actually, I think it was done with cray-pas.

"Spirit of Liberty" Painted on July 4, 1990 (US Independence Day) of a year when I really HAD felt that Spirit, having come out of a dark period, a bit like the night sky here, but without the stars. 

"A New Jersey River Spirit"  (1991): The title of this painting is somewhat facetious. Clearly (to me, at least) it depicts some kind of internal rage in the process of healing. I sometimes used the title "Rage, Partly Healed," in fact, but wanted something more playful. Look at the symbols in this piece! There are so many! I may not even see them all! The figure is dark and has big, sharp teech. Yet he is wearing a t-shirt with a bright Sun and sky. A Virgin or spirit figure is praying over him, or at least beside him. Another may be forming on the other side of his face. He is  holding and shaking a rattle that I believe represents inward-turning. There are the two different-colored horns. I'm not sure what to say about them. [I'm kind of in awe of this piece! There's so much going on in it! I don't recall what I consciously felt while painting it! Looking at it, I admire the by-then somewhat middle-aged (43)  man whose feelings were so accessible, and who must, I feel, have been rather courageous to face them in paintings such as this one.]

NYC Street Scene (1989): 

"Dreamtime" (1994): This was on a pretty BIG canvas...3'x4' or something.

"Fire of Meditation" (1997)

"Initiation Dream" (1995): A depiction of an actual dream I had! The figure holding the knife cut my hand, through the "web" of flesh where the base of the thumb meets that of the index finger. The dream seemed significant, yet to this day I have no real insight into its meaning. Please  Email me if you can offer any suggestions. . 

"Madonna and Child" (1995): The only painting of mine that has ever been exhibited inside an actual Art Museum...that of a small city, Florence, South Carolina, but still, the real thing.

Several of us from the Broadway Gallery in Myrtle Beach had received a heads-up about an upcoming exhibit to which all were invited to contribute one piece, by Nina, the gallery owner. Several of us did so, and several were accepted. On Easter Sunday...I remember that because afterwards we went looking for a place to have dinner, and I recall Nina joking about the best possible ad for a restaurant window that day being "WE'RE OPEN!"

We drove up together to Florence, around 90 miles from Myrtle Beach. I admit to embarking on a hunt as I entered the smallish museum. Where was my painting?

A few galleries in, I found it! I entered the darkened room, the paintings themselves illuminated by "local" track lights. Two gentlemen standing before "Madonna and Child". One of them was lecturing to the other about the virtues of my painting! What I would give to somehow get the transcript of what he said! But for some reason...my own excitement at seeing the piece in the museum? My self-consciousness about standing behind the men and eavesdropping? 

All I remember is the  reverent tone of the speaker's voice. His reverence was toward Art, not just my painting. But it was just so satisfying, as you can imagine, to hear my painting being the subject of a discussion of "worthwhile art" in this incognito manner!

"Goddess of Polarity" (1995)

These are some of the paintings I did during this period.  They convey, I hope,  a feeling of what art and life were like during these years. I still have quite a few more pictures to add  from that memorable period, when in a sustained way, I received the Gift of seeing  as an artist. 

 A nice review in the Myrtle Beach newspaper, the SUN-NEWS of a big exhibit I had at the Broadway Gallery in 1995. Paul Brownfield, the author, a young writer just starting out then, was a personable fellow and a good interviewer. He's now a nationally-known journalist.


Read the entire short story on the MEDIUM website, that tells this wonderful tale of how Art saved my life: 
"The Life You Save May Be Your Own" 

from my book of autobiographical short stories TOWARD AN INTERIOR SUN 
(click book title to read reviews and purchase on Amazon)