Q. How do people react to your work?
A. As you might expect, in various ways. Many are overwhelmed by their large size, although most appreciate the detail in them. Some wonder why I use ‘found’ images, while others wonder out loud what was meant by the juxtaposition of the two images. They are convinced that there is an underlying ‘message’ in the combination.. There may be, but I’m not conscious of it. I put the images together in a certain way because the elements ‘work’ visually, and because it’s fun. Incidentally, it’s OK to laugh at them if you like.
Q. Does your type of painting have a name?
A. A few years after I adopted this approach, there was a show of similar work at the Whitney entitled “Art about Art.” The Pop Art movement of the 60s demystified the famous works of art history and the artists in the show used them as recognized, even blatant, elements of their composition. I like to think that I don’t criticize or satirize. Rather, with my juxtapositions, I create a new reality. It’s up to the viewer to catch the metaphor and take it from there. Today with mash-ups, re-contextualization, and the influence of digital media, the approach is becoming more widespread. It is officially called ‘Appropriation Art.’
Q. How do you achieve such detail in the paintings?
A. Ever since I returned from Syracuse University in 1968, I have been using projectors to enlarge the images. Each ‘facet’ of the original is drawn to scale and subsequently painted as a flat surface. The viewer is really doing the ‘blending’. In this manner, I maintain an abstract quality different from classical painting and super realism.
Q. How do you justify the use of a projector to enlarge images?
A. I come from the Bauhaus School of Design tradition which had as its main thrust the cooperation and integration of technology and art. For me, the projector is a drawing tool, no more or less legitimate than any other drawing aid. Today’s computers are a perfect example of machines that are being put to work in startling ways by fine artists.
Q. How do you decide on what to paint?
A. That really is the easiest part. There are so many master paintings of all eras that I love ‘being with’ for weeks on end. It reminds me of the many years I spent at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts where I took high school art classes and continued studying at the Museum School there throughout my college years. The most fun is deciding what should accompany the known work. If not another work of art, the images are of ‘Americana’ — storefronts, roller coasters, signs, etc. that are as familiar as the master paintings. I take these images from various sources: books, magazines, or very often I shoot the image myself. The foreground is completed first and then the background is projected behind it in the remaining space.
Q. How long does it take you to do a painting?
A. I have been answering this question by relating that I only kept my time once while doing a large painting. It took 72 hours. It would seem that smaller paintings take less time, but this is not always the case.
Q. Do you have a favorite painting among your own?
A. That question has to be answered in the same way as if you asked me if I have a favorite daughter. Many painters have said that their paintings are very much like their children. They love them unconditionally and can’t bear it when they are not near.
Q. Why have you remained with this one style for so long? Well-known painters have changed their style often.
A. I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of the possibilities this technique presents. When I do, I will know it.