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The eve of my thirtieth birthday was rough for me, as things like 'decade birthdays' can be really stressful for people, particularly sensitive artists. As midnight was approaching, the phone rang. It was a Cleveland philanthropist, owner of Fourth World Productions, who was aligned with Art With Out Walls in New York City. He saw my sculpture at Cleveland Independent Art Gallery and wanted to know if I'd be willing to take the spot of an artist that had to drop out of a recent NYC production. It was 1996 and I was beside myself.
At that time I was making sculpture from found objects recovered from the streets, vacant lots and railroad tracks of Youngstown. I assembled the sun bleached bones of animal skeletons and cultural detritus over a frame of wood and metal. They combined a ferocious, macabre quality with a nod to Hollywood special effects and the Nail Fetishes of the Congo.
The next several weeks was a flurry of activity as I put the finishing touches on new sculptures and prepared them for shipping. I'd been to New York City many times before, assisting artists in transporting large artworks and doing general work for galleries and art professionals in the Manhattan art community. This time, however, I would travel alone and it was all on me.
At that time Art With Out Walls was an arts organization that renovated former commercial and industrial spaces of New York City to host art, fashion and music shows. Chelsea was just beginning to blossom as a cultural community. AWOW leased a 200,000 square foot floor of a Macy's warehouse there and turned it into a vast, professional gallery space where 14 artists were provided the space and financing to hold full solo exhibitions.
Absolute Vodka sponsored the show and partnered with the Dairy Council to create the premiere drink, White Russians, which were served generously the entire run. A fashion show was held and members of Cop Shoot Cop provided a Hardcore Industrial Ambiant music show for the closing reception. The budget for the event was a quarter million dollars, a great deal of money for 1996.
Opening night was overwhelming. There was a line of people waiting to shake my hand and talk to me, the artist from far away Youngstown, the Wild West to them. The highlight of the night was the arrival of Molly Ringwald, 80's teen movie star on whom I had a crush. She walked over to my most frightening sculpture, considered it for a moment, then placed her drink on the pedestal on which it stood, and left it.
I met so many great people as a result The Jack of Jill Show, the start of my modest but fruitful NYC art career.
Below are links to prominent NYC collectors of my work (to name just a few):
* Orlando Palacios
* Susan Copich and Oded Levy
* Nannatte Lepore and Robert Savage
* Catherine Pavlov
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