The past three years I found that I was not happy with where I was going, what I was doing with art. Last year I began painting with whiskey because whiskey played a large role in my family as I grew up. It wrecked my father, destroyed the marriage, and had a huge impact on me and siblings. Personally, I don't have a problem with drinking whiskey myself; I enjoy the occasional Old Fashioned or a Manhattan.

 

I try to get in local shows. The competition is stiff, with fine artists doing paintings of deer standing next to a barn or an eagle flying across a field. I'm not that kind of artist. I was told my whiskey art, especially the family paintings, are "too somber" for a gallery, as galleries are looking for upbeat art, lots of colors, abstracts, in order to make and pay the bills. I get that. Running a gallery is gutsy and a person needs to make some profit.

 

"Minneapolis" began as a silhouette of the city. I used acrylics and whiskey. I tried to get it into a show at the convention center and was denied. And I know why it was denied: it was a boring painting. I didn't like it before I tried to get it into the show and I can't blame the folks who turned it away.

 

I looked at the silhouette and in my mind I said "fuck it" and began another painting on top of the city silhouette, using colors that I like and shapes that think are important and interesting. I kept going until the painting felt like it was done. And when it was done I looked at it and I said "hell yeah." This is not a boring painting.  This is color. This is action. This is Minneapolis, the great city I live in.




 

 


Coronavirus will be Defeated by a Mermaid with a Club, a Dog on a Surfboard, an Extinct Five-legged Dinosaur, Two Fish, a Man with a Pipe, a Jellyfish, and the Sun.



An art collector in Mora, Minnesota purchased the painting "It's Time to Fight", which features the iconic hero Bob Spycat Super Spy Cat.





I use Kessler's Whiskey almost exclusively in my painting, due to my late father's love of the drink, which eventually did him in as well as the disintegration of the family itself.

My wonderful sister found this old World War II-era Kessler's ad. I did a little research and found out this ad would have been published in the early 1940s in Popular Mechanics, Double Action Detective Stories, Popular Science, The Ring, Real Western and other male-audience focused magazines.





I was interviewed about why I paint with whiskey, and the whole idea of what is creativity, by local videographer and musician with the band Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, Jesse Hendrickson, of The Taylor Street Sessions, a music and arts venue in Northeast Minneapolis.

 

The interview took place a few weeks ago and I posted it on my website today. Please take a look and tell me what you think, if you would like to. The actual interview starts at about the third minute, but the previous material is damn cool.


I used about a cup of whiskey to paint Intentions. With so much liquid, the paintings took about three days to dry. The whiskey adds a diaphanous quality and a fine brightness to the depth and thinness of the colors.








This painting is taken from one of the many clipped photos in which my dad was cut out after he left the family in 1961. My dad was a beer and whiskey man; the alcohol didn't help the marriage much. My grandfather (Pop) was not a drinker, but like my dad, worked in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. I presume the writing on the photo was by my mother.

48 x 24, Kessler's Whiskey, charcoal, and pencil. Gallery canvas.





 


My dad was a Kessler's drinker. He drank shots and beers almost everyday of his working life. A steelworker in Pittsburgh, the bars gave you Kessler's Whiskey, unless you asked for something else.

Alcoholism presumably wrecked the family, and eventually killed him. He left after 20 years of marriage in 1960 when I was six. He never contacted the family again.

 

I found my father 14 years later, when I was in the Marine Corps. But that is another story.

 

My step-father and mother cut my dad out of all family photos, so I had no idea what my dad looked like. He was never spoken of either. Recently a number of old photos have shown up, many cut or torn in half. I have painted a few of those photos, but then my oldest brother found the only surviving picture of my dad, from 1940, when Dad was 21. 

 

My dad had a problem with Kessler's Whiskey. I boiled some Kessler's down (to thicken it) and painted this portrait of my dad, taken from the small grainy 1940 photograph.