Wallpaper Statement part 2
The first painting I painted, a couple of years before I had thoughts of becoming a real painter, was a bleeding half of a cantaloupe on a checkerboard tablecloth with a fork looming overhead. As Yogi Bera says, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”
Needing therapy, I enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute. My father paid my tuition and $150 a month for four years to keep me off the street, and to keep me from embarrassing him.
Originally, I just wanted to go to Mexico and live on the beach, eat fish heads and rice, and paint; but my father wouldn’t let me. I had this big ball of something in my gut, and I needed desperately to purge it out. At the same time, I was about to be drafted into the Army, and I was terrified, although willing to go. I somehow made them understand that I was incapable of military duty. I told them I would go, but that I couldn’t be responsible for my actions under the stress of regimented duty.
So they deferred me.
In art school I discovered I had to try harder to compensate for the deficiencies of growing up knowing nothing of art in the cultural desert of Cheyenne, Wyoming. I mean, there was a watercolor society there, and some cowboy and Indian paintings, but nothing more. I saw some paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in my teens once, on a one-day whirlwind tour: the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the National Gallery. It didn’t occur to me then that making those pictures that were hanging there could be something one could actually DO in life.