artist’s statement

When I was thinking of doing paintings of the West, I followed my heart and my long interest in narrative. The real inspiration for me to paint in this manner comes from the narrative look of ledger drawings and their primitive quality. It’s the only way I know to paint such scenes in a manner that is pleasing and organized.

I have also found inspiration in the paintings of artists Joan Miro and Paul KIee, where a central subject may or may not exist, but enigmatic symbols such as those that appear in cave drawings, tapestries or hieroglyphics complete the full story. The flexibility that narrative form allows continually excites me and fuels my creativity.

Many of my paintings have let me explore the spiritual, war and social life of the Indians. Through my research I have discovered that this past century’s Native American religious movement was no abstract spiritual experience but the Indians’ very tangible response to the duress encroaching European civilization pressed upon their very existence. They had lost their land, their main source of livelihood – the buffalo – and their traditional way of life. And they were dying of white man’s diseases, sometimes purposefully forced upon them in an effort to affecttheir extinction.

In the past, we whites have portrayed Indian life from our point of view, forgetting our greed, forgetting the incredible atrocities we committed against Native Americans. Even though a white man can in no way fully understand the complexities of Indian spiritual life, they impress me mightily. I know I will have made some mistakes in my assumptions, but I’m doing my best to archive their history without bringing white prejudice to my approach.

People find my painting themes and style available to them but perhaps don’t know why. It may be because of the traditional elements I use that are archetypical. I combine the simple visual approach of man’s earliest art with the roaming layout of ancient tapestries and murals.

These paintings and their subjects have become one gigantic historical and spiritual lesson for me. I do what I love, and this is it.