I was a painter in Boston in the 70’s and 80’s. I worked from nature, like Corot, but my Fontainebleau Forest was in Revere and Winthrop, Massachusetts. Later, I worked from iconic images of nineteenth century Luminist and vernacular painting like the Mississippi River, the Adirondacks and Niagara Falls, traveling and sketching my own versions of these landscapes. I developed some of these images in the studio, trying to find a way to be a contemporary painter. My mentor and teacher, Kaji Aso, was a contemporary Japanese painter who had absorbed traditional Japanese culture. I always had a day job restoring antique furniture and making traditional reproductions. Eventually, inspired by the contemporary craft of the time, I started to find ways to bring my painting ideas into furniture pieces. Furniture is slow. It takes a long time to learn how to make furniture well. Finding an artistic voice using furniture as a medium is even slower.
My ideal artist is someone who finds his or her own way to be contemporary yet who can address human history and nature, like Cy Twombly, and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, architects Tadao Ando and Arata Izosaki. I also admire the work of Robert Irwin, who stripped western art of most of its elements down to the essential experience of perception, and who has always done it in the most highly crafted way. And Vija Celmins, who can slow time. That may be a lot for a furniture maker to claim as influence, but then, as I said, furniture is slow, and there’s always a lot of time to think.