was born on the Feast of the Immaculate
Conception, in the coal mining region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, during
the Eisenhower administration.
From the time I picked up my first crayon, creativity as a form of expression has always been the norm for me. As a sickly child, my physical activities always had to be curtailed, but I did find solace in my coloring books. And I had a vast library of them. At one time, I complained, "there are no good pictures left to do in my books!" It was then suggested to me, if there were no "good" pictures left, then I should draw my own. I did! A talent was discovered and encouraged, and I have been drawing and painting ever since.
I remember when I was about five, my Grandmother said to me, "Instead of calling you Michael, we should call you Michelangelo!" I had no idea who Michelangelo was, but I wanted to know more. My Grandmother then proceeded to take out the family Bible, and show me examples of Michelangelo's work. I was awestruck! I had decided then and there, "when I grow up, I want to be an artist just like Michelangelo."
But, she warned me, "most artists are poor all their lives! Some never make a living at it, while other artist's works aren't considered valuable until after the artist's death!" But, I was undaunted. Wealth was not my objective, I just wanted to be an artist.
She didn't lose faith in me, or my ability. A few years later, while still in grade school, I successfully drew "Blinky" from the matchbook. "Blinky" of course, was just a 'come-on' to sign up for a correspondence course. My Grandmother financed the course for me. And yes, you can learn a lot from a correspondence course.
Throughout High School, I often heard from teachers "I don't understand why your grades aren't better. You're always so attentive, and you're always taking notes!" What they didn't understand was my 'attentiveness' was my studying their features, and my 'note taking' was my sketching them.
After High School, I attended the York Academy of Arts, where I studied commercial art. Attending school, full time, where every class dealt with art! No math or science, for the most part, just creativity! I was in my glory! But, of course, as with all artists, we all want to go our own way! I remember in anatomy class, we always had 'real' models. "Real" meaning cellulite, surgical scars, and body hair in unusual places. And, as usual, my tendency was to 'fix' them, to make them appear more attractive than they really were. I can still hear the instructor saying "we're drawing real people here, not Ken & Barbie! Draw what you see! Not what you would like to see!" Okay, I dealt with 'reality' for a while, and drew it that way.
But the way I see it, I could draw truth, or I could draw beauty. The two aren't always the same. I create what I would like to see hanging on my own walls. There is enough ugliness in the world. I see no reason to glorify it, put it in a frame, and have it stare me in the face on a daily basis. In my opinion, viewing art should be a pleasurable experience, with no excuses or explanations necessary. "Beauty is it's own reason for being!" A saying comes to mind, that an elderly friend used to say, "If it aint pretty, don't go stickin it out on your front porch!"
After art school, I was free to go in my own direction!
And the direction I went in, was retail visual merchandising. My title was 'Display Manager' which, of course is a glorified version of 'Window Dresser.' Not exactly art, but it did involve a great deal of creativity. Every eight weeks or so, I had a large bank of windows, along the main street of downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA, where I had complete artistic freedom to create beauty and fantasy. The only drawback, I felt, was these presentations were only temporary 'creations,' subject to change with the fashion and season. Nothing was ever permanent. But, I did enjoy the work for approximately seven years.
At that time, I then went to work for a custom frame shop & art gallery. At last I was working with something directly related to art. In the twelve years I worked there, I did become quite knowledgeable on every aspect of custom framing. Whether it be choosing the correct frame 'off the shelf,' to designing the complete package, using mat colors, textures, filets and molding styles, to best compliment the artwork. Using the latest technology in archival/conservation materials, we framed everything from amateur paint-by-number boards, to the priceless originals of some of the worlds foremost artists!
In 1999, I decided once again to go off in my own direction. I left my position there, to pursue my own business. I now operate my own small frame shop, which allows me more time to spend creating my own artwork. The latest pieces you see here. I hope you'll enjoy viewing them, as much as I did creating them.
Here painted by himself
with rugged force,
See here the firm-set mouth,
the shaggy hair,
High over all, his many
As in a rough brown bulb
with ragged husk,
Here in this Winter landscape,
white with snow,
In melancholy majesty he
Born of no mother, save
a marble sheath,
Like one who roams at twilight,
lone and late,
Down in deep vales he hears
the herdsman's cries,
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