It is easy to romanticise one's life, and for an artist it seems others will do that for you. Normally I dislike speaking about myself, especially in ways that place me on uneven ground with others. Raised culturally in the American Southwest, in what might be called the “cowboy” way, we shun big talkers. My goal is to neither romanticise my own experiences or be arrogant, but rather to present for the very first time why I have earned my position as a leader and "one of America's leading visual geniuses.” It has only been in the last couple of years that I have used some of the quotes I’ve gather along my thirty plus years as an artist, and I do so because I have allowed others in the marketplace to speak for me for the last twenty years. I’ve always felt everyone misses the point of who I am as an artist. While they have respected my work, taken me to the highest levels such as museum shows, interviews, and placement in international art magazines, I never felt that my intellectual potential was ever really explored. My art is about thirty years ahead of the curve in the current movement that has been developing in Europe for the last decade or so. Mind you, this movement isn’t due to me or my influences, I take no credit for discoveries being made in Europe currently, but rather our shared influences and ideas of aesthetics came from a broad kinship. Part of this influence is directly from the Outsider Art world, in which I am a “hero” of supposedly, although that is totally a ridiculous thought, it only has a value of looking good in print. But no free coffee, no movie franchise deals. But if you ever see me wearing a cape, you’ll know I’ve bought into the myth making.
Yet I will point out that myth making does occur regularly in my life and career. People accuse me of creating a mystery on purpose, when in fact I had no idea there ever was a mystery. What has happened is that from the ages seventeen to thirty one I have had a life where the experiences busted through and overflowed, and I’ve sought the inverse of my former life, one of solitude and quiet. I hope this section helps you understand the extraordinary career I’ve had and what I did with it, and why!
Thank you for your interest in my work and me as an artist and human!
The reason behind the label: “one of America’s leading visual geniuses” has less to do with my images solely, as this quote is a product of a time when I was still struggling to define my voice as an artist, I barely began exploring the ideas of the styles I'm now known for. It was more about the ideas and the process that go into the images alongside of my meteoric rise in the New York Art scene. To be honest I didn’t have the scale or experience to know that I was actually having success. I was only 22, fresh from a small New Mexico indigenous reservation border town. Other artists who spent years struggling to break into the gallery system pointed out that having so many shows within your first years in the city was highly unusual; I had three in my first year alone, including one at the famous Tunnel Nightclub where Andy Warhol exhibited his modelling career in the 1980’s.
What I did in my first three years in the city was beyond what most artists will do in their entire career:
I was specifically commissioned for the book cover for the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution which was in print from 1998 to 2008. I would get more offers to do more book covers for the biggest publishing companies. I was asked to make portraits of celebrities for People Magazine, and my art shows were being attended by celebrities and other well known figures. I had been asked to interviewed for two academic papers on art. I was being offered shows by galleries (usually it’s the other way around), and I was asked to come back by some of the places I showed at. I was being offered to create a show at a cultural centre across from Lincoln Centre. And I was being invited to be represented by a gallery in Chelsea, and for anyone who knows about art, Chelsea would soon become the centre of the global art world.
For those who want to know how I did it, I present my thoughts here: ADVICE
But I also did what no other artist in history (except perhaps Van Gogh) would have done, I rejected fame, money, and success. Good or bad choice, I made a decision that was literally the pivotal point in my career. Climb that ladder or step away.