I would be honored to be classified as a “neanderthal artist.” After all, my 23 and Me analysis tells me that I have more Neanderthal genes than 70% of those they test. I’m trying to make sense of my world the best way I can whilst I drag my knuckles along the ground behind me. My art is my attempt to make meaning, in the context of change, my environment, and always love. Whatever it is that drives me to make art is simple and primitive – I don’t ever want to lose the pure delight that a child has when making art – minus the pressure of having to place art into the marketplace or to fit into some genre or category. I’ve tried imagining where my art fits into the a genre of art, but always land on the descriptor “Primitive Intergalactic” School of Art. I conjure this as my school of art because that is how I imagine my art and my writing to be.

prim·i·tive /ˈprimədiv
late Middle English (in the sense ‘original, not derivative’): from Old French primitif-ive, from Latin primitivus ‘first of its kind’, from primus ‘first’
I don’t have the hubris to believe my art is the first of its kind, but I define primitive as original or primary as in reaching down into your soul and allowing what wants to come out – come out without letting the systemic thinking about art tell you what to give birth to. I’m grateful for all my art education and experiences, and in awe of artists who are fortunate to have had formal training.
I am tremendously inspired by many “Outsider Artists,” champions of Art Brut and “primitive” art. These classifications of art is so inadequate, albeit useful to collectors.  I love this self-schooled art that is raw, primal, primary, savage (as in a force of nature), and unaffected by art-schooling that too often churns out artists whose work, albeit technically extremely sophisticated, can sometimes seem derivative of “mainstream” art. To be clear, I don’t in any way confuse or conflate my style of art or way of thinking with that of indigenous peoples. However, native cultures inspire me tremendously, and I am so impressed with the incredible history and works of the original artists of earth.
My biggest influences have alleyways and playgrounds, sand pits and garbage dumps, trash cans and hardware stores, wild fields, secret meadows, and magical woodlands. These environments have infected me with wild desires to create, to transform, to play, to run, to love. I’m especially grateful to the art teacher who admonished me in an eighth-grade art class, admonishing me that my “skies can’t be purple, they must be blue.” I decided right then and there that being schooled in the arts put a damper on my creativity, and committed myself to staying primitive or true to my own imagination.
in·​ter·​ga·​lac·​tic | \ ˌin-tər-gə-ˈlak-tik
vast spaces between great celestial bodies; the voidness that houses our realities
“the big empty” that ain’t empty;  not a negation of existence but rather the undifferentiated ground out of which all perceived entities, distinctions, and notions of “reality” arise.

My “intergalactic” influence is fueled by gazing up into the amazing Michigan night skies of my childhood, and Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Jules Verne, Donald Adams, and Carl Sagan. I have, from a very young age, been enthralled while looking up into the night sky and seeing stars from millions of miles away fill our night sky. “Science Fiction” is such a wonderful way of imagining brighter futures, and sorting out how we might fit into the big picture of the universe. An opossum convinced me to write a science fiction epic that now fans the flames of all my art. I love animals – they are such great teachers and champions of love – and notice how their seemingly “primitive” state of being is actually far more advanced than how we humans choose to exist on this precious planet.

Materials List for a Primitive Intergalactic Artist

  • Rough edges and beautiful cracks
  • Forgotten Wood
  • Homemade Hardware
  • Loose Variances
  • A whole lotta gesso
  • A whole lotta sandpaper
  • A whole lotta wood glue
  • Wiring that would give Nicola Tesla a run for his money
  • A whole lotta love

How I love the light within and without

Throughout my life, I have found myself living and working in some rather unusual spaces: sleeping in a drawer or bathtub as a baby on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village, later in closets, garden sheds, and garages in California. I have been required by financial circumstances to make my art in basements, sub-basements, crawl spaces and garages. From a very young age, I looked for creative ways to literally “lighten-up” these spaces with recycled christmas lights, old fixtures and electronics I found in the trash and invested with incandescent bulbs of questionable origin. I often felt like I was breaking the law, and if zoning or electrical codes matter, I often was. Naturally, these creative lighting scenarios worked their way into, and took up residence in my work. Even one measly string of Christmas lights or a neon sign or old black and white TV set can animate a space magically. I love imbuing my works with their own self-illuminating sources of light, and all my “shows” are set into the dark that is anything but empty. 

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke speaks to the darkness of night: 


Night. You with your depth-dissolving face

pressed against my face.

You, counterbalance

to my awestruck gaze


Night, shuddering in my regard, 

but in yourself so steady; 

inexhaustible creation, 

enduring beyond the fate of earth;


Brimming with new stars, 

who fling fire from their birth 

into the soundless adventure of 

galactic spaces:


your sheer existence, 

your transcender of all things, makes me so 

small. Yet, one with the darkening earth, 

I dare to be in you.

–  Rainer Maria Rilke, Uncollected Poems

The “darkness” is anything but “emptiness.” I don’t fill the darkness, but enter into it with deep respect, attempting to reveal my stories of love, trying to catch the light and share it with others. Another great poet, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, said “Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.”  and “If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty.” (from his gem “In Praise of Shadows”)


Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Douglass Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The way that an artwork brings materials together is incredibly powerful. Sculpture is its materiality. I work with materials that are already charged with significance, with meaning they have required in the practice of everyday life…then, I work to the point where it becomes something else, where metamorphosis is reached.

Doris Salcedo


Note, to-day, an instructive, curious spectacle and conflict. Science, (twin, in its fields, of Democracy in its)—Science, testing absolutely all thoughts, all works, has already burst well upon the world—a sun, mounting, most illuminating, most glorious—surely never again to set. But against it, deeply entrench’d, holding possession, yet remains, (not only through the churches and schools, but by imaginative literature, and unregenerate poetry,) the fossil theology of the mythic-materialistic, superstitious, untaught and credulous, fable-loving, primitive ages of humanity.

Walt Whitman

Complete Prose Works

There is no such thing as primitive in the way Western education has traditionally conditioned people to perceive it.

Gregory Cajete

Look To The Mountain: An Ecology Of Indigenous Education

Becoming an artist does not always begin with formal lessons or study in an academic setting. For many self-taught art artists, following their impulse to create is the unintended first step towards a life-altering passion.

Roy De Forest

Oakland Museum of California (at an exhibit of Roy De Forest‘s work)

A human being is a spatially and temporally limited piece of the whole, what we call the “Universe.” He experiences himself and his feelings as separate from the rest, an optical illusion of his consciousness. The quest for liberation from this bondage is the only object of true religion. Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace.

Albert Einstein