He threw me in the fire
Born in Okinawa, Japan, as a “military brat”, I grew up in many different places, including Belgium, Germany, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, Washington State, and Los Angeles, CA.. This fact alone likely fed my desire for constant change, growth, and expanded my perspective on the world and my immediate vision.
I have been actively drawing ever since I can remember. That, to me, is the gift. I found something that I loved doing early on, and strived to get better. Along that route, I found other mediums to express myself. The fascination grew, with painting, first in watercolors and acrylics, then oils and other mediums.
Over the years, I have collected a strong understanding and command of multiple mediums. I feel very comfortable switching back and forth through these different mediums and techniques. I also have found that I can acquire new mediums, ways of expression, etc. I attribute this to my philosophy that being an artist is not necessarily about mastering one or another medium, but, more like a way of life, that I see, feel, hear, think, and strategize with, in mind. It transcends hobby, vocation, profession, etc. It has become a part of my “core of understanding”, akin to a religion, but, much freer than any dogmatic ways.
Although I have never pursued making music in any serious way, my life has found me immersed in it. I tried singing in a punk rock band once, a long time ago, but, it just wasn’t for me. I wanted to express myself, but, art took that over. When I moved to Seattle in 1991, I found myself front and center with some major players in the music scene here, as it was exploding. There were many opportunities here in Seattle, at that time for a young artist, wanting to do graphics, design posters, merchandise, etc. I pursued those jobs, as well as making fine art. To me there was no difference. I just wanted to make art.
It might sound like a surprise, to some, but, to me, skateboarding was a hugely influentual activity in my lifelong path to doing art. When I discovered skateboarding, I found another pure form of expression and creativity. It is very much like drawing or painting. the creativity in it, is infinite and re-configurable. As an old sponsored amateur, who entered many contests in the past, this “Sport” was the only one that I really connected with. And it taught me how to see possibilities in modern architecture, that I may not have felt or noticed without it. Also, the world of art in skateboarding was phenomenal. Art to me, served hand in hand to skating. And I was surrounded by killer graphic design, by default even. So, I still hold it dear to my heart and I am also a proud brother in JAKS TEAM. Now if you don’t know what that is, all the better, because I can’t even tell you…
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been infatuated with my favorite American art form: Hot Rods. To the uninformed, Hot Rods are not merely custom cars, but, to me, rolling sculpture, that functions. It was purely American, born out of jalopy racing on the valley farm roads in California, on the winding roads of moonshine runners in the Appalachians, and built by those wild beach racers along the gulf sands. There is plenty of lore, style, and range of technique to most of it. Aesthetic born out of function and performance. To me, the ultimate art form… So, as a kid, I actually learned a lot about cars, machines, mechanical engineering, due to my fascination with custom cars… And ultimately with planes, ships, and all other forms of machinery.
Growing up as a military brat, I never felt like I had a real home. Well, maybe Arizona, where my family still lives. But, in 1991, a friend of mine who had been attending the University of Arizona, asked if I knew how to drive a full sized box truck. I did, so, I helped him move up to Seattle to begin his transfer studies at the University of Washington. After a wild adventure up the west coast, where we stopped in Berkeley, Portland, and eventually Seattle. We ended up here during Bumbershoot, which, in 1991 was still free. We went on Acid. I fell in love and decided that I was going to stay. The music scene was just taking off, there was a real and genuine creative energy in the air. bands were playing every night. There was a blossoming arts and performance scene. It was really a magical time. I was not going to leave…
Wow… This period of time was magical and far out. The city of Seattle was full of amazing characters. The music scene was off the hook and there were so many killer artists all over the city, doing their thing. We all were collaborating, doing different things, and supporting each other. There was an evolving performance and poetry slam scene, art shows of all types, theater, and of course: the music. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Mudhoney, and literally hundreds of other bands playing every day of the week. People moved here in droves just trying to get a piece of that action. It was good and bad. There were tons of “fly by nights” who thought they would just show up, get a record deal, and cash out. But, there were shows every night at places all over town, so, the music and arts scene was fabulous. There were underground speakeasies, bars open at 6a.m. and there just seemed to be so much magic in the air.
I was lucky enough to run into an old friend from high school, named Lori, who was dating a guy by the name of Ben McMillan, a local singer in the bands Skinyard and Gruntruck. This is how I began to meet so many other people in the music scene. I think the reason why a lot of these local musicians liked me was because I WASN’T a guy looking for a band. I wasn’t the guy looking to cash out in that scene. I just wanted to do my art work, and grow in my own world of creativity. My first place, besides couch surfing, was a warehouse loft space at 14th and Jackson, and I got it because Lori had introduced me to Tommy Niemeyer of the Accused, who were musical favorites of mine when I lived in Arizona. So that was a trip.
Barrett Martin, who was in The Screaming Trees and Skinyard at the time also lived there. Another local legend, Tom Gnoza, who had a band named Red Skeleton, who was also a member of The Thin Men (with Barrett Martin and Pat Pedersen) also lived there. We had some wild times in that place. Gruntruck even played in my living room (more like a concrete cave, it was so spartan). I can still remember The Screaming Trees writing, practicing, and playing the songs from their soon to go gold record, Sweet Oblivion through the walls of my space. I knew every nuance of that album before it even came out. There were times that I had to let Mark Lanegan, Gary Lee and Van Conner into Barrett’s space before he got off work. Poison Idea stayed over a few times, along with other notable bands who came through. We had crazy, off the hook parties there. It was just one of the amazing eras that I found myself in.
In that decade, I had numerous jobs just like anybody does, while trying to do “your thing”. I worked at Caffe Minnies, a 24 hour restaurant, that boomed in the late night scene. It was always filled with characters, local musicians, theater folks, and artists, night lifers, and clubbers. I met so many great people there and just continued doing my artwork and trying to show it wherever I could. I did band flyers, album art, logos, and drawings for anyone who would ask. I just wanted to get my work out there. At Minnies, I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted with my days, and worked a wild graveyard shift at night. During those weird late nights is when I met and became friends with many local characters. The famous playwright August Wilson used to come visit me late at night to write and edit his plays. I also became friends with Layne Staley from Alice in Chains, who would visit me late at night when everybody cleared out. Later, as a cab driver, he would call me late at night to ride around with me. He thought it was hilarious when people would ask who he was, and my reply was: “He’s just a trainee”. But, that’s a whole other chapter in my Seattle history that I’d rather leave to mystery. Layne was a dear friend and anybody who knew him still misses that sweet, turbulent soul. He was a good man, with a bad habit. May he rest in peace…
THE MECCA (A bar in Lower Queen Anne):
The Mecca needs its’ own little segment here. It is still a place that takes me back in time. This place isn’t cool to me, it is a shrine, of sorts. I go there to remember people that I once hung out with, but are gone. I go there to draw, like I have, for decades. I go there for a spiritual experience that takes me back to where I started my art career. I go there alone, generally. I listen to the jukebox and I remember lost love, heartbreak, happy times, memories, and so many other things. I have literally drawn ten thousand drawings in that place or more. The whole coaster art thing that I am known for started there, for me. This is the place where I learned to draw, for real. I have gone through so many pens, so many styles, and so much effort into taking my art to another level in that place. It will always be a temple to me. Never just some place I go. It is far deeper than that. And that’s all you need to know about it…
Another pivotal activity that I feel is important to address is the time I spent doing performance art, poetry slams, street performance, and alternative forms of comedy. Seattle has always had a strong theater scene. That world was also bolstered by a fierce performance scene across the city. There were national grade poetry slams, drag queen shows, comedians, and a growing burlesque world that evolved into an international sensation. I spent quite a bit of my time rolling in and out of those scenes, doing my own form of performance. It came in handy later, when I moved to Los Angeles. We’ll get to that later.
Seattle was far different then, than it is now. There were some amazing venues across the city and all sorts of events booked. One of the best places, filled at any one time, with the best of the best in town, was a mythical place called The OK Hotel. This place always had great artists, performers, photographers, musicians, and theater people getting down and going off on any given night. Seriously, people romanticize things sometimes and make things out to be bigger than they were, but The OK Hotel WAS THE SHIT!!! There are too many stories, too many legends, too many situations where the OK was absolute grandeur. It was the little heart of Seattle when it was there. Fucking earthquakes… The Nisqually Earthquake literally shut it down.
Throughout this time, I acquired and worked in different mediums, from performance related things, to set designs, murals, screenprinting, different kinds of printmaking, paintings, and merchandise design. I am completely self taught. What I know is from doing, a strategy that I believe is the truest to obtain style and experience.
I immersed myself in local acting, comedy, and live performance, while making a living doing visual art. I believe that being an artist is not just a mastery of medium, but a way of thinking, a lifestyle,a strategy for living. See, to me, being an artist is about creativity, approach, tactic, and follow through. It can be applied to all mediums. I don’t think of myself as an artist trying to master any one thing. I think of it as a sort of religious experience, a spiritual one of my own doing. We have all heard of the term: “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Well, to me, it is more like this:
“Jack of all trades Master of SOME”.
Up until 2008, I did most of my work in the Northwest, showing my work in galleries, restaurants, bars, night clubs, etc. Getting better and better at what I do, acquiring a mastery of mediums along the way.
Then in 2008, I moved to Los Angeles…
Although I found it fun to be on camera, I also worked behind the camera as an Art Director, Assistant Art Director, Set Designer, 2nd A.D. Art Department Lead, Prop designer/Builder, and Production Assistant on numerous commercials. I had a distinct pleasure in working for Errol Morris, whom I was a big fan of, since high school, as a Production Assistant on his commercial jobs for 4 years. He in fact inspired me to direct, produce, and shoot my own documentary film. During a conversation, while driving him to the airport, he asked me, “Rick, what is it that you want from this town (Los Angeles)? Why did you move here”? My response was, to further my acting career and to become my own film maker as well. To this, he said, “Well, what films are you working on, yourself”? I said that I wasn’t quite ready to, and that I was still learning. His response, “The next time I see you, you’d better be able to show me what you are filming, or we will not have you on our next shoot”. He threw me in the fire, so to speak. A huge influence on me, to this day… And there are so many stories that I have about the times I spent working for Errol.
So, That’s who got me kick started into shooting my first documentary film about a punk rock band that I grew up with, by the name of Malignus Youth… Since then, I have directed, produced, and shot several music videos, shorts, and experimental films.
Private collections in Tuscan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles
Mei ferri assum periculis no, ne decore iriure minimum his. Pri propriae consetetur honestatis no, his ex nisl dissentiet.
Mei ferri assum periculis no, ne decore iriure minimum his. Pri propriae consetetur honestatis no, his ex nisl dissentiet
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