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artist's narrative

my early work is influenced by the social and political landscape of the u.s. and mexico border region. the sharp contrast of north and south, spanish and english, rich and poor coexisting at the borderline creates a friction. this friction of two diverse cultures is most evident in my hometown san diego and neighboring tijuana to the south. my paintings capture the unique subculture of the border region that is a result of the collision of two cultures. border culture and the cross-fertilization of influences (ideas, language, mythology, aesthetics) continue to evolve and change.

in the late eighties i discovered the writings of j.b. jackson which helped to clarify my own observations about how landscape and culture are interconnected. before reading jackson, my paintings already utilized garden design influences; particularly with a reliance on a bird's eye view--a geometric compositional grid--and i used the road as primary subject matter. his insights helped me to interpret the landscape not merely as scenery outside ourselves, but that humans are integral to landscape and beauty. his essays address how landscape seen from above reveals patterns and human organization. the road, jackson argues, has become more than just a metaphor for life's journey, but it is increasingly where most of us live out the majority of our lives. he coined the term "vernacular landscape" to describe how contemporary landscape is shaped and molded by the regional needs and desires of its temporary occupants. it was a revelation for me to realize that every landscape—forest, river or mountain—is a work of the mind, a repository for the memories and obsessions of the people who gaze upon it. when once asked to define himself and his work, jackson declared, "i see things very clearly, and i rely on what i see . . . and i see things that other people don't see, and i call their attention to it."

in my own attempt to reveal how our surroundings reflect our culture, i rely on humor to communicate my artistic vision. contrary to the dour dryness of much contemporary art, my paintings are fun, entertaining, busy and dense with sensation and burlesque humor. i want to represent my personal vision of the spectacle of life in this time and place and express it in my own perspective. to study the relationship between man and environment, my paintings examine culture in context. increasingly, the boundaries are blurred between pop culture, subculture and mass culture. in this hazy area i find clarity. within the larger grid of mass culture exists a smaller grid of many subcultures. and within the smaller grid of subcultures exists the individual. the grid example helps to illustrate the individual versus the mass, or the microcosm and the macrocosm, but we have all experienced the unnerving sensation of being totally alone in a crowd. each of us in our own search for meaning struggles to connect to someone or something outside ourselves. this is the journey on the road to self-discovery. in this uncharted territory, my paintings explore the nature of culture. my paintings are fun, even if what we ultimately discover about ourselves within them is disheartening, embarrassing or something altogether unexpected.


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