I think if you check out biographies of many notable artists/ musicians/ creative-types, you will see that their achievements are the result of a life-long trajectory, that started when they were pretty young - before they even realized the path they were on?... they were on it.
is true for me.
(That doesn't mean I am equal to them, at all - it just means 'the path
is the same', for all of us.)
I was born
in Burlington, Vermont, spent my first year or so in a foster home,
& was then adopted by Robert & Margaret Bennett, at age 1 and a half.
In the summer of '55, we moved to Gardiner, Maine - population 7,000 - where my Dad owned and ran a Chevy dealership until the late 70's.
lot of people who grew up thru the 30's & 40's
grew up in Boston, in a household that was thrown into dire economic
straits by the premature death of her father/my grandfather. He worked
for Cunard Shipping, fell ill while going thru the Panama Canal, and
died very quickly thereafter. The remaining family was left penniless,
except for a job offer to my uncle from Cunard, which he accepted...and
when Cunard was bought by American Express, he worked for them...and
retired as an executive VP of some sort in the early 70's, to very grand
place in Greenwich, Connecticut.
His sister was equally ambitious, in her own way, and was determined to give her kids 'culture', so she packed me, my bro' and sis' in the car, and drove us to anything artistic/culturally enlightening that she could drive to. I was seeing Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth, etc, when i was all of 7 or 8 - this was in Maine, hence the choice of artists & destinations. I couldn't possibly remember all the things she took us to..
liked to take us on driving vacations - so we went to the Bay of Fundy(Canada),
to see the tide go out, and every peak of note in the N.E., and all
the historic sites, & all kinds of 'outdoor/natural' things.
'Driving' was the way to see the country, even if you didn't know where you were going - on one trip to Canada, we got lost on a backroad, and never went thru Customs - the only way we figured out we were in Canada was... all the signage was suddenly in French..!
before i am 10 years old, the threads that are the foundation of what
i do now, were in place - "art" and "natural things/places".
was 10, they sent me to a private boarding school, a very good one -
St. Paul's School, in Concord, New Hampshire.
I was soon
studying Latin, and Greek, and French. Didn't think much about it at
the time, but in retrospect, studying languages gives one an appreciation
of the depth & fluidity of our "human "symbols", be they language,
or pictures, or whatever.... which is why i can now look at ...a ladder
stuck in the sand, or a windmill, or landscape, and "see" something
else, some other metaphor/relationship...
I also started drawing in my early teens, and started really taking art seriously. The art teacher i had at St Paul's (Bill Abbey) once took the class to the campus chapel, and had us 'draw from life' - our choice of subject. The chapel was very ornate, with carved oak panels, and pews - i chose a fleurdelis (sic?) ornament at the end of a pew, and the curves connected with the previous years' calligraphy...and i was hooked.
It was somewhere in this time period that i came across an old Kodak 'Autographic' camera in my dad's desk drawers - It was totally an antique then (never mind now).... and i took a few pix w/ it... but stayed primarily interested in 'art' (as in "painting/drawing" etc.).
years, the art/work that has attracted/inspired me includes
boarding school in 1969, & 'messed around'
I also ended up in a photography class... I learned all my 'basic darkroom skills' there. I know my first 50 rolls or so looked like crap.... but i kept at it.
At the time, i lived in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, which was very quaint/historic/ un-"yuppified" - and very photogenic. I roamed around w/ an old Nikon, and shot whatever struck me... ( From this time onward, i have always had a darkroom of sorts in my home, no matter crude/ "guerrilla" style it was.)
From '76-81, i worked as an advertising art director, and watched every photog i worked with - that was a good education.
I got bored/frustrated w/ advertising, and went into architectural photography.
Shooting architecture leaves one w/ alot of 'down time' due to weather/winter,
so i started working w/ things in my darkroom - At this point, a number
of things came together - and i started making the kind of montage pix
i do now.
My photographic influences would include: Pete Turner, Harry Callahan, Joel Meyerowitz, Clarence John Laughlin (sic?), Robert Misrach,... and of course, Jerry Uelsmann...but also (and equally) a fellow named Reijlander, who did incredible montages in the early 1900's, with far less technology...
of the early '90's totally cleaned me out - architectural shooting in
the Wash., DC area took a nose dive, my income went from $30k to $3k...
i got divorced for a second time, and ended up throwing whatever i could
fit into my car, and drove west - as far west as possible... and ended
up in SF.
The things i was looking for back east, ended up being out here, and virtually all of what is on my site has been done in the last 18+ years.
Everything I've done previously seems to... have been a building block of some sort.
alot of the analysis and planning that goes into shooting architecture
can be applied to the landscapes and locations I shoot now in California.
"I've been down to the harbor a thousand times, but it only looked like this once..."
The sort of improvisation that I learned in drawing and painting is alive and well in my darkroom.
A couple of other things that have always sustained me? - music...and books.
I am still
wearing out copies of Hendrix "Are You Experienced?"...
evenings at boarding school, when i was at the Library supposedly studying
Greek... i was instead finding Robert Bly and John Berryman.