I'm a self taught Artist who began his journey in 1952 Georgetown South Carolina, the height of Jim Crow South. My first introduction to Art was at the age of 5 sitting on my Father's lap in his car pretending to drive turning the steering wheel as the car rolled forward. My father slowly stopped the car and grabbed a white sheet of paper no bigger than a postcard, took a pencil and started drawing a speed boat racing on water. This was the most amazing thing i've ever witness, a blank piece of paper turned into something magical, a whole story from a simple drawing, i couldn't wait to learn how to duplicate this magic trick.
Soon afterward my family migrated to New York minus my Father, we arrived in Harlem where everything was so much different than Georgetown, the buildings, Traffic, colors, music and so many people. I started first grade shortly after we moved to Sugar hill in Harlem, which was an experience that cannot be duplicated anywhere else in Harlem. The first thing i noticed was my lack of freedom i had when i was south, I was able to venture out to my friend Baba house 4 houses away, ride a bike back and forth which i learned to ride at age 4, play in the field in the back of the house where my grandfather planted potatoes , beans, raised chickens and made wine. So in the city my mother was very protective, i didn't get out much and my sister was 4 years younger than me, i played alone a lot until my neighbors moved in next door. The Lewis's was a big family but the oldest son Wayne was my age, we became best friends. Wayne's mother was just as strict as mines so we spent a lot of time in the hallway drawing comic book characters mainly out of Archie comic books. We also competed in seeing who had the fanciest penmanship, we did this for hours and hours everyday, Wayne out fancied me in writing but eventually bowed to me when it came to drawing.
Going to public school was simple PS186 was right next door to my building which was mostly blacks and hispanic in the school, our white Jewish population were on Broadway and Riverside Drive and not one of their attend our school, A few years later most of the whites was gone, this was my first experience in witnessing White Flight. After leaving Grade school my mother wanted in a better schools outside of the neighborhood, so she shipped me up in the Bronx to JHS 117 using my cousin address. The school was in a Jewish neighborhood off the Grand Concourse, this is where i experienced racism for the very first time. When i started school in the 7th grade the school was 90% white 10% black and latino, by the time i graduated in 9th grade 80% of the white kids had already left the school.
Graduating and attending Taft H.S.was an immediate let down, my very first year they discontinued the Art , Music and instrument classes, then soon afterward shop classes. During this period when you graduated from H.S. you receive one of three diplomas GENERAL, COMMERCIAL, OR ACADEMIC. Of course the Academic diplomas the guidance counselors push mostly the white kids to set goals for this the only way you going to college is with an Academic Diploma. Mostly all blacks was pushed towards the work force which Commercial and general diplomas was suited for. In 1968/69 this practice was stopped by making it one Academic Diploma allowing everyone to go to college once they graduated from High School.
Throughout this period i experience Megar, Kennedy, King, and Malcolm get assasinated. The March on Washington Civil Rights, and the Million Man march. During all this i continued my drawing especially when i got the opportunity to attend college during the Peace And Love era. There was so much color and creativity going on everywhere, i tried to absorb everything, and enhance my art.
Attending college i was like the typical Black kid going to college for the first time, plus first in the family to attend college, i had no idea what i was doing, most of us was never prepared for college, got a grant and went not knowing that you should have some type of direction you want to go in before you waste so much time and money. After 2 years of college in two different colleges i came out got a job and had my first child and 3Years later had my second. Starting a small family kept me busy, I kept up with my hobby, through out the years i experimented with charcoal, ink. and oil pastel now i want to finally try painting. My first painting was a portrait of my oldest son and i immediately like it for the next 40 years.
My painting to date is collection of what i've seen, felt, and experience throughout the time i have been on this ball of dirt since 1952. What's so amazing about this is that i can paint for two life times and couldn't paint all the interesting ideas i have inside to paint.