“How the hell did Ojai find me?”.
There was a moment in my life roughly twenty years ago where I found myself daydreaming about art school as I worked at a bear observatory deep within the Tongass National Forest. Here I was, standing on a little nub of gravel jutting out into a kelp strewn tidal flat, rifle slung over my shoulder, quietly watching large Brown Bears rip into the flesh of unwitting salmon vigorously swimming to their slightly earlier than planned demise. The scene was set with the palette of foggy grays and greens that SouthEast Alaska often offers; the salty heavy air pleasant. The relative calm I felt working with these apex predators who seemed content, and for the most part ignorant of me, feels incredibly strange and distant considering the plot twists and curve balls life would fire at me over the ensuing two decades. I’ll spare you the sordid details. All you need to know is that after leaving my Duluth, MN-based Museum career a few years ago, then packing up my studio and library into storage and selling or giving away most else I owned last summer I hit the road. I was unwittingly seeking greener pastures and I’m still dumbfounded as to how, but somehow I landed here in Ojai. As my new reality sinks in, I feel increasingly grateful for this place and enthusiastically embrace everything my new home town has to offer, especially this group which has been mentioned by nearly everyone I have met as soon as I mention that I am an artist.
So first, I wish to thank all the members of OSA for allowing me into your community of creators and I am excited to learn more about you and the area. I look forward to working together to elevate the visual arts at a time where everyone needs that moment of respite from the outer world. A reason to pause, a reason to reflect. And I believe that we as artists offer that in many ways. As Gerhard Richter said, “Art is the highest form of hope.”
Finally, I invite everyone out to my modest studio in Meiners Oaks on Saturday, February 8th, 10-3 for this year’s first 2nd Saturday mini-tour. Introduce yourself, enjoy a cookie, and feel free to get a laugh by freaking me out by telling me how fast my encaustic paintings will melt when summer hits. I’m looking forward to meeting you all and thanks again.