Once upon a time many gray hairs ago, I was a journalism major at the University of Florida. In 1969 I took a photography class from Jerry Uelsmann in the art department. He changed my way of viewing the world. His inspiration propelled me to my first exhibit in a real gallery, a two man show at the Safety Harbor Art Center in Florida with my friend Kurt Westfall.
I went on to get my Master's from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1977 where I was in a department called Generative Systems, headed by the visionary Sonia Sheridan. Under Sheridan, a small band of us began playing with computer imaging, Xerography, electrostatic imaging, holography, and other technologies, over the protestations of traditional artists. Generative Systems became the Art and Technology Department, and now most art schools worth their tuition have similar departments. It turns out that I was the first grad student in the field and my Masters was the first of its kind in the world.
Over the years I have sold photos to numerous publications including Time, Playboy, Science Digest, The Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post. My prints have found their way into numerous collections including the George Eastman House, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and The University of Castilla-LaMancha in Spain.
My first one-man show, "Never Drink Water", debuted in 1983 at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley and traveled to several wineries and restaurants around the nation.
Now most of my work is classified as "photopainting." It usually begins as a photograph or three that are combined on a computer, and then I paint on them digitally, adding elements, removing elements, changing colors and textures, and doing the kind of things traditional painters do with brushes. Often I tell stories about the images. I call these "pictories."
In 1999 I began experimenting with stereography, an old method abandoned by all but a handful of artists. Stereography is a method of making images with a true third dimension - depth. For an interesting history of stereography, and links to some of the top stereographers of our time, visit one of my other websites, Stereographer.com.
I have also developed an interest in immersive imaging, a technique I call spinography. Spinography allows viewers to practically pick up an image and turn it in around with a mouse, or to stand in the middle of a scene and turn around and see all sides. It is now being used to create virtual tours for real estate agents and in viodeo games among other things. Check out another of my sites, Spinography.com.
My preoccupation with all things visual extends to an obsession with all things sensory. Once upon a time I wrote hundreds of articles about wine, food, and travel as a columnist for The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune, and I managed the food and drink channel on AOL for nine years. I have judged barbecue, wine, beer, and spirits around the world, and taught at Cornell University's famous Hotel School in Ithaca, NY, at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, and Flavour Cooking School in Forest Park, IL. It's a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Check out my cookbook in progress at AmazingRibs.com.
Below is a short chronology of how my work has evolved. Click on the dates for more boring details and examples of my work.
1959-1967. My first pictures were typical of a kid discovering the wonders of photography. They exhibited no special skill or insight, but document the most important things around me.
1967-1972. In 1967, when I entered the University of Florida, the Vietnam War was raging, black power and feminism forced changes on our society, and I discovered the revolutionary surrealist work of Jerry Uelsmann. My cameras began to do more than document the world around me. In 1971 my friend Peter Potterfield and I left on a cross country hegira. A lot of film was burned. In 1972 I had my first major exhibition in a real art gallery, and I moved north.
1972-1977. In 1973 I was accepted to the Master's program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and my experiments with generative systems began. I immersed myself in technology, trying to get the medium to comply with my visions. In 1974 I married Lou, a microbiologist and food scientist. In 1976 I curated an exhibit at Columbia College called "Unconventional Imaging Systems" featuring Xerography, telefax, and computer images. In 1977 I was awarded a degree in Generative Systems (now called Art and Technology).
1978-1998. Over these 20 years I focused on my senses of smell and taste. I became the wine critic for The Chicago Tribune for three years, then The Washington Post for three years, launched a magazine, and in 1990 created the food and drink sections on AOL.
1999 to present. In 1999 I learned how to use my computer to do the things I wanted to do in the '70s, but were not yet possible. I also discovered stereography from the 19th century and spinography of the 21st century. I digitized many of my older images and now I shoot with digital cameras only. I am also working on a cookbook about ribs.