Artist Statement: My story really starts in East L.A. My bedroom was in our small living room and I was awakened one evening to shouts below our house. As I looked out I saw two men fighting with chains. I was shocked and repelled by my environment. Our backyard was dusty dirt with a tree that bore no fruit. My most vivid escape was when I saw a vine flower and I remember bees swarming around the petals getting drunk on pollen. It was then that I too wanted to feast on something beautiful and nourishing. If I was to sit on a shrinks couch I would say that Art probably saved my Life and gave me a traditional healthy escape from the ugliness that I saw. I remember someone giving me a set of casein paints when I was 10 because they saw me drawing all the time with cheap pencils. I painted my mother looking into a mirror while touching her face as she noticed her wrinkles. People made a fuss about it when I entered the painting in a local show. If not for the encouragement of so many people like my parents who believed in me I would probably be a machinist like my father. Painting is really the only passion that ever made me want to get out of bed and do something significant and meaningful. I studied with a portrait master during my teens and one day I met an old salty California Plein Air painter named Sam Hyde Harris.When I stepped into his darkened living room he was seated on a worn sunken couch with a stick of tobacco in his mouth . Behind him hung a Saturday Evening Post original oil painting by Norman Rockwell. It was signed to my good friend Sam. It filled me with a sense of calling and purpose and I was hooked and I was all in as an artist.