About ten years ago I was in front of my art history class delivering a lecture on the “male gaze.”
No, not the “male gays” but rather a buzz phrase that art historians use to describe that most art is made for a straight male audience who want to look at twentyish females in various states of undress. As I looked out on the lecture hall of college students, skinny, too young, inexperienced, and just not my idea of sexy or beautiful I thought, “No one here looks like me. Where are my people? Where are the sexy, fleshy, hot middle-aged men?”
A couple of years later, the year was 2016, at the age of fifty-one, I was able to leave my tenured professorship to strike out on my own as a painter specializing in men who look like me.
Men like us are often only peripherally the subject of paintings, Rubens and even ancient Greek and Roman art, often depict older large powerful bulls and bears, but they are often in the margins of the artists’ conscientious. Yeah, we see Zeus and Neptune, but I get the feeling that these daddies were not the sex symbols I think they are. That’s what I’m trying to do in my art, bring the focus the large hunky middle-aged man and show the world that we are sexy too. In some ways, we live in the best time ever, an age where it is now acknowledged that our attraction can include bears, silver foxes, daddies, bulls, and for dessert, the occasional twinkie.
My art sits on a kind of tripod, it has to be physically beautiful, of course show my men as beautiful and heroic, but I also mean that stuff has to look right. The anatomy, composition, textures, shading and color have to be compelling and appealing. I literally want to show my tribe in the right light and setting so I work to get everything just right and I often look to my heroes, Rubens, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Sargent and Lucien Freud as examples of what to reach for.
My Life Story
I was born in Brooklyn February of 1965. During much of my childhood I lived in Brooklyn, the Bronx, upstate NY, Sarasota, Florida and Manhattan. (Both my mother and father divorced and remarried.) The real hero of my childhood is my older brother Marc who literally changed my diapers, acted as my protector and as my role model.
I started to learn to paint and draw when I was six or seven years old and was convinced that I would be an artist from that age on.
As a teen at the High School of Art and Design I got my best training in Irwin Greenberg’s class where he taught me how to draw, oil paint and watercolor. I also attended classes at the Cooper Union and Art Students League.
My parents threw me out in my senior year of high school, so I earned my GED and worked construction on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was a rough time but my older brother and his partner Kirk rescued me by inviting me to move with them to Cincinnati, Ohio to live and study. While a college student, I worked in restaurants and painted as much as I could. After a year at the University of Cincinnati, I went back to the Bronx where I finished college at CUNY Lehman. Lehman is a fantastic college.
After completing my undergraduate studies, I lived in California and then Ohio completing my two masters’ degrees in Art History and Studio Art. After school I was lucky enough to have dual careers as an exhibiting artist and tenured professor.