Monday, February 19, 2018

Smaller world

The exhibit is up and running. I had a great time engaging the students, faculty, and staff during the reception and I believe it was well received. One of the models was in attendance and it was good to see him again.

The highlight of the evening for me had to be meeting the daughter of a former athletic director and coach from my alma mater. I told her stories of her dad disciplining me on the ice skating rink durin our summer youth sports program. I grew up to later include his portrait in a poster contest promoting  a basketball tournament.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Northwestern will be seeing Black men

The staff at Dittmar did a wonderful job with this marketing for the exhibit next week. I love how they combined the men. The gaze is amazing. I can’t wait to see all the paintings hanging at once.

Seeing Tyrone

Tyrone is completed. This is probably the rare time when he will be truly visible. The painting was completed in less than three weeks. I really wanted this completed for the exhibit at Northwestern.

It will also transition my focus from Black men to senior citizens. After a short break I will begin Irene and Dennis.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Tyrone is nearing completion. All that remains is his pants and hood lining. This was one of the most challenging painting of the series. Not because of painting technique but because of his narrative and having to stare into his eyes. Of all the men in the series he is probably the most “invisible.”

I learned Tyrone’s story as I was assisting him with an online job application. He never had an email account or worked with computers and was trying to apply for jobs as a dishwasher. As we were setting up his email account I discovered he did not own a smartphone either. He will never read this blog page.

Tyrone grew up in Chicago. He dropped out of school in the seventh grade. He shared with me that he was arrested and went to prison for a gun possession. He has a felony conviction on his record. The lack of an education and a criminal record has prevented him from accessing many of the things we take for granted.

As I bring Tyrone into view it is easy to reflect on how one wrong choice can take a person down his path. This could have been me.

When the viewer looks very close into his bloodshot eyes, they will see their self reflected back.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Artist Talk

I needed to practice my Artist Talk so the senior center hosted a program featuring me and the Men on December 11. I brought four of the Men and the Serengeti painting. The chairs were arranged into a horseshoe to encourage conversation.

This was probably one of the rare occasions where this audience of senior white People talked about race and stereotypes. Many of them knew me as a volunteer and were surprised to learn I was an artist.

Today as I was leaving the center after a workout two of the attendees stopped me to chat about how much she enjoyed the talk and a previous experience where she stereotyped. The fact that she stopped me to chat let me know I’m doing important work with this art.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The gaze

I was sitting in the studio today having completed varnishing LaMar and decided to pull out the other paintings to review my progress. There is a distinction between how I approached each male with color and brushwork. Some have detailed strokes while others are flickers or markings. Fabrics vary among the men and each presented a unique challenge to capture.

What I was fixated on during the inspection was being surrounded by the collective gaze and the feelings it conjures. I’m sure the feelings will differ with each viewer and I hope they pay attention to the feelings. This is worth exploring and discussing in a group setting.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


The final painting before the Northwestern University exhibit. This was completed in three weeks. I met this brother at my Chicago exhibition in February 2016 and never knew his name or story. I’m really pleased with the combination of realism, color, and the size.

I named him LaMar.