It all began with some sad little drawings of some
run-down parts of Oakland, old houses and a bar near the docks.
It was when I was getting my teaching credential in the early 1950's
and could not figure out how to live my life as an artist--much less
as a public school teacher. There was a bar somewhere in a
largely abandoned warehouse area near the docks at the lower end of
Oakland's Market Street. The bar was "Tom's Old Corner," and I
don't think anyone had been there for a long time.
My middle name is Thomas... and in its wan
dereliction, the bar was me. I did not draw Tom's Old Corner,
but instead made Drawing A (below) of the view down the street past
the bar to the cranes
and docks beyond. Even now, I tend to look to the horizon instead of
the facts before me. Always trying to escape.
There is an inscription--Drawing B--in the same
sketch book as the drawing of the cranes instead of Tom's Old Corner:
"You know how it is--you go along quietly enough for a while, and then
there is a little grinding crash, kind of twisting and wrenching."
I knew--it was Existentialism and Abstract Expressionism and Zen
talking--that there had to be a place where at last the break would
come and the world would begin anew.
Drawing C is a few pages later in the sketch book.
Maybe the grinding crash came and made this drawing. There are no
others like it in the book or from that time.
In the years of these early drawings of the city, I
was painting my
Homage to Kandinsky and using the "spiritual red" of
Landscape". Forty years later, I made
A Memory of a Youth's Ambition (1994) in honor of
those old days.
here for an extended text about these paintings and drawings.