When I first returned to Akron in May of 2003, I experienced Akron more as an oasis than as a desert. I was returning to Akron after 16 years in orbital proximity to New York City. Twelve of those 16 years I lived in New York City proper…Manhattan and Brooklyn and Queens. And I was tired. And as much as I loved NYC and as much as I still love it and consider it the place where In many ways I grew up, I was ready to leave. My sweet Midwestern disposition had worn threadbare.
Shortly before leaving NYC I had signed an exclusive contract with a very fine gallery. I thought that a move to Akron would create the mental and financial space to paint the paintings that could hang on the walls of this gallery. And in this line of thinking I was right.
First, I had been a part of a group of painters since May of 1997. I loved that group of people…still do love the memory of most of them and am still in close contact with a few. I came to realize, however, that the group exerted a stronger influence on me, aesthetically speaking, than I was able to overcome given the proximity. I am not a confrontational person by nature, so I felt that the freedom of isolation…the possibility of discovering myself in dialogue only with myself…would prove a more fruitful option. And it did, and it has, and I have been talking to myself ever since. Part of the reason for writing these thoughts down is the hope of exploring and realizing when the oasis of isolation becomes the desert of isolation…how to avoid this and how to create a scenario wherein the benefits are experienced while the hindrances are avoided.
Second…money. It is all about the money, is it not. No, actually. I was just searching for a dramatic moment. It is not all about the money…never has been and never will be. But being smart about the money never hurts. (Aside: I love the game of blackjack and have played it often enough and with verifiable success that I can claim to take life lessons from my deviant pursuit. I have come to learn and believe that success in blackjack, while based on playing the statistical probability of the cards “correctly” is played successfully…winning…based on money management. And the first rule in this arena in my book…no money…no blackjack. Stay on the table. Stay in the game.) Akron allowed me/allows me to stay in the game. I needed a place where I could paint for long periods of time with few sales as I built up my inventory for my gallery and for the show promised me at my gallery. Akron afforded me that opportunity. I had the mental freedom to know that everything could go to shit….I could never sell another painting…and I could deliver pizzas and survive in Akron. Not so in NYC.
And so I moved. And everything went to shit. But that was not Akron’s fault, nor was it mine. Had I not been living in Akron I would never have been able to build it all back up again. It certainly was not easy. Life does not promise easy. I am content with the hope of possible. And in Akron it was possible.