|Most of my work, both in photography and in painting, has focused on night images, primarily of the western Mojave Desert and California's Central Valley. My interest in this subject matter grew out of road trips I took as a child with my father in New Mexico. He was a appeals referee for claims brought against an employer through the employment security commission of the state, and I would sometimes travel with him as he heard and passed judgment on the merits of these claims. Often we would finish late in one town and drive at night to another where he would have a hearing early the next morning. These drives gave me, then an aspiring writer, the opportunity to observe lonely houses and ambiguous lights set back in the darkness and make up stories about who lived there. Visually, I was struck by the stark simplicity of the images and the mystery that any unfamiliar landscape at night confers. Later, after I had become a visual artist and moved to California, I worked a day job at UCLA Medical Center. I spent weekends painting day scenes in the Central Valley and usually would find myself driving late Sunday nights back to LA to start work at 7 AM Monday. Childhood memories were revived and I decided to try painting some of the night scenes I encountered. Later, when I became interested in photography, I began trying to duplicate the moods and subject matter I had worked with in painting. I also shifted my interest primarily to the Antelope Valley of the Southwestern Mojave. And I quickly discovered that for me black and white photos captured what I felt more directly than color.
i find the desert and the night go well together in my art. At night, the vast distances of the stars become obvious, a desert in itself, and the far horizon melds the two deserts into one. In this twin desert of sky and land, I explore outposts of human habitability. Mystery and loneliness are the themes that unite all of my night work, and they are palpable in the infinity that darkness suggests. Later my interest in photography grew, and a range of new subject matter became possible. I left the exurbs for towns and cities. Nevertheless, I still sought out the feelings and moods I was used to, finding them in humble subjects like apartments and parking garages and empty city streets. Photography and painting are the twin tools I use to explore these emotions and each has it's strengths.
Painting, no matter how realistic, refers back, via the artist's handiwork, to the artist. The great achievement of photography (I mean "straight photography"} is that it has what Walker Evans referred to as its "authenticity". They compliment each other. For me, they also inform each other. Photography has influenced my painting and painting had a decisive influence on my photography.