My first solo show was at Toledo’s beloved Sufficient Grounds Coffee House at the Cricket West Shopping Center in December, 1996. I was overwhelmed to have sold four pieces in that show.
Sufficient Grounds was like the crossroads of Toledo when I lived there. It drew everyone from the university crowd, to the gay crowd, to the arts people, to ladies who lunch after getting their hair done next door.
It was my hangout for five years, not just due to my coffee addiction, but because I could be sure to run into one of my friends there. Before smart phones--hell, before most of us had cell phones--if you didn't know where your friends were, those in my circle would head to the Grounds.
One very cool thing about this family owned coffee chain was their art program. They mounted a show by different local artist every month, so there was always something interesting to see. And one day the art director, an acquaintance, came to a party at my apartment in the Old West End and talked me into showing. I nervously agreed, thinking I'd have a few months to get my stuff together. Four days later he called and said his December artist had backed out and said, "You're up! Come over Wednesday night and hang your stuff!"
Showing my art in a solo show for the first time there was a bit daunting. Seeing 17 huge canvases of mine hanging over the Grounds’ diverse clientele as they sipped coffee, noshing on fantastic cheesecakes or chicken salad, was almost surreal.
The night I came in and hung the canvases, I was sure I would see only the flaws and weaknesses in my art. Instead, to my shock and relief, I saw the good things I was doing. That’s a critical moment for every artist—putting yourself out there.
Since that day I’ve been in many more group and solo shows, and I can thank Toledo and Sufficient Grounds, and my wonderful friends and family here, for easing my entry into the so-called art world as a working artist. I have a studio in my home in San Mateo, California, and I paint nearly every day, selling a handful of pieces every year.
My painting is about the body as a landscape—nearly all of my work is of human figures, ranging from skateboarders suspended in mid-air, to individuals caught in a small moment of movement or rest. I use line and color to establish a mood. I think this comes from my training in intaglio etching at Oberlin, and my love for the early drawing technique called contour line drawing that I learned at high school back in Milan, Ohio.
I'm also a devoted dog rescue volunteer and we've adopted eight dogs over the past fourteen yearsand fostered or helped place several hundred others in new homes.
When I heard Toledo Rescue was doing a fund raiser, I immediately offered a piece to auction. Like art, the dogs we’ve rescued have made our lives so much richer and happier. This is a way for me to share that joy by promoting adoption.
To whoever purchases this small piece, thank you for saving a dog or cat, or several.
And special thanks to my friend Charley Linden, who does social media for the Rescue. I named one of my adopted dogs after him, our dear departed Charley, whose picture is off to the right here.