Photo by Dave Mathews Gold Coast News
I. had. no. choice. but. to. paint.
Before I painted I danced for 35 years.
This Youtube is the Swing Dance from Penny Marshall's "League Of Their Own." One of the last jobs I had before my accident. I'm the silver-haired guy dancing w/ Freddie, the blond in the deep turquoise dress.
JasperKIRK. One name. Born 1954 in San Francisco, California. Grew up in Marin County, CA.
JasperKIRK says, "My real name was Dana, 'nough said." Dana became a target for bullying. The name Dana incited
aggressive behavior from the tough kids in nursery school and followed him through 8th grade.
The bullies would "get him" before, during and after class. "Recess was unbearable," Jasper Said. "Especially P.E."
Dana/JasperKIRK couldn't concentrate on his education. Dana instead schooled in “How To Armor One's Self And Survive Another Day.” "These guys were nasty and abusive. I thought, 'What did I do? What. Did. I. Do? What. Didn't. I. Do? What did their parent's do to them? Jasper has scars that remain, physically and emotionally. PTSD started with the flick of an ear. His ear. His right ear. This, the first day of nursery school. The painting on the left is symbolic of how tied up I became.
"And, I'm still untangling."
I remember the first time it happened. I was very young. I was standing in line to play musical chairs. It came from behind. A stinging flick to the back of my ear. It escalated when these guys in 4th grade put nails through the tip of their tennis shoes and kicked me. No one knew what was going on. One swift jolt of a foot and wham from my ankle up to my knees. As far as I knew I was the only target as they were always around me." Jasper says, "Lunch was horrible. No matter where I hid amongst my friends, they'd come over, physically bother me, rip open my bagged lunch and scatter it. I never thought about telling anyone and no one ever thought of telling someone. Who would I tell? The English teacher?, the math teacher? the Principle? These days are different, kids tell on these little bastards as well stand up for the "vic."
One of the interesting factors in this lion’s den came to me recently: One guy's name was Dominic, which I took as Dominate. Another guy's last name was McPhearson: Fear, the other guy's name was Bosserman. Jasper looked at me and said, “You can figure that one out yourself.” He goes on, "They never antagonized me they just went full hog on me and no one said or did anything. I remember the coach laughing while seeing this. He'd walk past me and not pat my head but scratch it along with his smirky cocky smile (expletive here). He was an (expletive here) bully too and not just to me."
Sundays were worst of all 'cause after Sunday came five up and coming days of torture. If they weren’t abusing me I was a deer in halogen headlights; an anxiety-ridden wreck. One step on school property, just one step and I became their target. They'd set up, draw their masks early and let their inherent sniper out. There were no leaders'. They were all leaders. I hid it well. Maybe too well. The painting on the right is how I felt every day. For decades.
To this date, I'm 62 and I can’t add without counting on my fingers. Forget about counting in my head. I have no idea what’s behind fractions. I know if I cut a Granny Apple in half I have two pieces of Granny. I can divide if the numbers are few. My blood pressure would spike when a teacher proposed, "If you have 14 apples, took 2 away, divided that number into thirds ..." 'Ya lost me at 'Granny.' Forget the square root of whatever. 'Trig?' Trigs have leaves. On my SAT's I filled in the bubbles making a continuous downward and somewhat Feng Shui design. I was the first one finished; it's as if the world stood still when I handed in my finishedbubbIed in-"stationary." I remain geography`less, how the White House works, which way longitude and latitude situate, but I knew how to hide until caught. I have the worst of dyslexia and dyscalculia, and its only worsened. I got F’s, D’s, C minuses, one B+ because I like to write. I don’t think I got an A in anything but musical chairs. Letters were sent to my parent’s saying, “If Dana doesn’t bring his grades up …" "If Dana doesn’t stop bothering others’ in class..." "I finally realized years, years later it was the teachers' who were bothered because they couldn’t get my attention. (expletive here)"
There were always obstacles in a class; dead ends to an education (expletive here!). When a teacher or principal writes to the parents, the parent's always take their side. All the while trauma was with me every day. Still, the saddest emotion comes from not being educated. What a waste. I suppose this factor's into my art fifty years later. The image on the right is symbolic of the juncture between two nerve cells consisting of a minute gap which impulses pass by diffusion of a neurotransmitter. In other words andnot from Wikipedia, this is what was going through my head."
"One summer my mom and dad sent me to a private 3R's school, not a boarding school. The heading of this school was the Three R's. It threw me off. I understood that 'R' was for Reading, but 'R' for Righting? 'R' for 'Rithmatic? I still can't figure it out."
At 3-R's. There. Were. No. Bullies. Image on left: a clearing. I couldn't believe I was sitting comfortably in a chair, with proposed work in front of me. The scent of my workbook, the number two pencil with no chew marks, my bag lunch next to me, my eyes on either my paper, in a book or on the teacher. It was the end of summer. I LIKED ENGLISH BEST. I can still smell the cool damp air as the school was situated in the hills. I wore a blue thin sweater. I don't know where my mom spent her time while she waited for me. Days in class were shorter. They were condensed and concentrated. I hope my mom just pulled off to the side of the road and took a nap or read a book. It was her private time away from her "R" for Residence."
Life's New Compass
In 7th grade, Jasper watched on his black and white television Shirley Temple and Bojangles Robinson tap dancing. I told my mom "I wanna take tap dancing. It was for no other reason than to tap. I never intended to tap for 3/4's of my life." Jasper's tapping paved the way for 3 decades of work in all styles of dance and many mediums in the industry: television, radio, commercials, film, cable, musical theatre; on the open seas; American, Latin American and European tours, conventions, trade shows, all the while under contract with Ford Models and fashion production houses in the print and runway divisions. modeling, directing, choreography, teaching, voice overs, commentating and producing events with his own company "I.T." for Interactive Talents, and in between obtained a cosmetology license but -- never painted,albeit houses exteriorly and interiorly and perhaps a face or two.
Jasper also had his own column in The Chicago Loop News for three years. This column was called "Dana On Rush" then I called it "D. Kirk Sweeney On Rush" then, "DK Sweeney On Rush" and finally "Dana Kirk Sweeney on Rush." It was in period I tried out other names, even in modeling, I tried several different names. Kinda like being in the WPP. Since I traveled Europe in my younger years and on my own later in life, I'd try different names at Starbucks. They write your name on the cup then call it out. I thought this was perfect. Everyday I'd choose a name, they'd call it out, I'd hear it and choose it or not. First I tried, "Roberto." Didn't like it. Then "Marcello." Didn't like it. Next day, I kiddingly said, "Gandhi." They called it out and said, "Candi." I thought, " wrong direction." Then one day I wasn't thinking about it and out of the ether Jasper came. The girl who took my name said, "Jasper, I love that name. You never hear it." It felt right. So I grabbed it."
Dana/JasperKIRK said, "I never intended to dance-dance. It was fun and the people were great and it was above all a great distraction and that was enough." He continued, "I guess it wasn't enough." He goes on, "The saying 'Be careful what you wish for ..." "But I didn't wish to dance" adding to the old saying 'Be careful what you don't wish for."
Jasper: "In 7th grade, I was the guy who danced. The crazy kids', the creative/organic crazies' enticed me to gather at the far side of the school near the bridge above the creek. This is where I found safety for short periods of time. When gathered with the other crazies' we left 8th grade we went a mile away to Redwood high school. "They" called it Deadwood, I didn't call it anything." Oh and my savior, Malcolm. Half way through 8th grade, Malcolm had a crush on Robin. She and I were close friends. Always together. We told Malcolm that she and I were cousins. Malcolm, big, solid and smiling. At first, I thought he was the next bully. He, in fact, became my bodyguard." I am forever grateful for Malcom, as well Robin who held on to our "family" secret.
"It's not funny or interesting. It is what it is: In high school, those maniac-serial-killers' were always in the parking lot. I felt safe, however, PTSD clung to me like a nail from a tennis shoe stuck in my thigh. PTSD does not go away. It becomes tempered and wise-minded away, but still a phantom presence. I liken it to someone who loses a lot of weight. What they're left with is the "I'm still heavy" mindset. That was me. The Phantom bullying continued for decades. It still continues. It's just as hard to undo as being taught to look both ways before crossing the street."
I hadn't learned to study so when I entered my freshman year I entered carrying a 1st-grade education. High school didn't play musical chairs so I floundered. I'm sure this also weaves its way into my painting."
"I didn't know anything about sports. I was always the last one next to the over-weight kid to be picked. He was picked before me."
I'd start to play basketball during P.E. and I'd start to shoot the ball and the coach would blow his whistle. I didn't know about not standing and not moving in one place in the arch before the net. You'd think the coach would've asked me to stay after school so he could give me some pointers. If I wasn't frozen in time I would've asked someone to teach me. I would've been a great team member in all games. I was a tap dancer while Michael Jordan wasn't. That coach was a D _ _ K!
Jasper says he was "Great at relay racing." He continued, "I mean great!!! I learned to run in nursery school to protect myself. I was also great with broom hockey and soccer; all I knew is that I had to get the puck or the ball into the sweet spot. The coach was still a D _ _ K!
"My brother Tod was a basketball player. We had everything at home except a net. I guess families don't have nets when they live in the hills but I did know how to swim from the get-go. Our neighbor had a pool and we learned there. It turned out that it wasn't a pool but a long and wide fountain. Year's later I was competing in a freestyle swim meet. The judge was Jack Brickhouse known primarily for his play-by-play coverage of the Chicago Cubs games. Also the famed sports announcer for The New York Giants; his list is long of accomplishments."
Jasper said, "The reason I don't get wet when swimming is because I swim too fast. I still do."
The night of the swim meet.
"I busted loose from the pistol shot. I slowed down 3/4's of the way as I was so far ahead of the other nine I felt bad. So I waited. It was a pristine blue olympic size pool at a five star hotel. After, Jack came up to me at the side of the pool, squatted down and asked, "Are you or were you an Olympic Swimmer?" That night as I was falling asleep I thought "I'm gonna become an olympic swimmer." I didn't know who Jack Brickhouse was at the time, nevertheless, someone noticed me in sports of all things. Funny: I grew up across the street from four kids who were all about swimming: water polo, swim meets; one, Robert, did get to the Olympics. They had buzzed haircuts since day one. Two decades later their hair was past their shoulders."
Out of Deadwood
Jasper didn't want to talk about high school. I asked him why. He told me, "Every day of high school had the overcast shading of bullying." The best part of high school was track. As fast a swimmer I was --that's how fast a runner too. I was popular for those two weeks. It felt good yet
undeserved." He quickly skipped to graduating. Jasper: "I guess my SAT scores were based solely on the oval marks I'd creatively drawn in. I graduated high school. There's no reason in hell that I should've graduated high school or the 8th grade. Both my brothers were smart enough to graduate after their freshmen year. I assumed I received my diploma due to the area of I lived in. No one flunks out when the parents have resources."
Hmmmmm ... Now What?
I asked Jasper, "So then what?" Jasper looked lost. Not in thought, just vacant. "I don't remember. All I remember, I graduated in '73, and in '75 I was In LA. dancing." I asked, "Were you working, dancing, waiting tables? "No. I never waited tables. I never worked out of my profession. Every dance audition I made it through to the end. In LA, these productions were huge. Whether television, film, convention work or commercial work. I worked all the time. Occasionally, in between, I'd direct, choreograph and commentate fashion shows. I remember my LA beginnings. For a while, I got shoulder-knocked at auditions. I was the new guy in town in a small community of dancers. Guys were just marking their territory. Later, we all got along great."
Dana's dance rooted in LA. A couple years later Dana went back to Marin and got his cosmetology license. “I never wanted to cut hair. I saw “Shampoo” with Warren Beaty and that set it off.” Jasper continued, “After I received my license I worked in Mill Valley at a salon for one hour and then fired myself."
All Dana wanted to do was dance, or rather, to be with others' who danced. "The dancer's were non-threatening. It was a safe place. It wasn't about dancing, it was about safety through validated.
It took one year to get his cosmetology license. He didn't dance for that year. A week after graduating, Dana flicked through the SF Chronical classifieds. "I had never looked at the classifieds for any reason, let alone read that newspaper. I really wanted to dance and be with the crazies. And, there in a little box in the classifieds, "Dance Auditions-San Francisco Conservatory of Dance holding "Nutcracker" auditions.
I hadn't any ballet at that point but I thought, “I’ve seen the Nutcracker before so I’ll just be a mouse with a sword, nothing with fancy ballet feet.”
He auditioned and got the part of the Prince. “I guess I could see movement and mimic it well.” He then toured the west coast with the production which closed in Vegas at the Performing Art's Center. It was the 23rd of December. As he was leaving backstage ready to board the tour bus, a choreographer and producer came up to Dana and introduced themselves. They were casting for a touring company. They auditioned him for a minute, and on the 27th of December, Dana was back in Vegas rehearsing for the tour.
After that contract ended, he ran back to Marin, received a full scholarship and started ballet at Marin Civic Ballet. "I was twenty-five without a lick and a promise. This was an awesome ubiquitously known ballet school. They placed many dancers in the finest of company's, ABT in New York, Joffrey, San Francisco Ballet, Ben Steveson from Texas Ballet, Atlanta... The teachers were the real-deal. Teacher’s from London, Russia, the U.S."
Dana grounded himself in ballet skills: 6 months of 18 classes a week including Nutcracker rehearsals, adjudicated competitions, and partnering classes. Dana had now developed the skills of a ballet dancer. He says, "I heard my mother often say to her friend's, "Dana's so disciplined." I thought, "I'm not disciplined. I'm connected passionately. Discipline is when one doesn'twant to do something or to do something ego based."
Six months later another phone call and Dana was back in Vegas on a new stage.
In the new show, Dana's choreographer was one of the “Sharks” from the movie "West Side Story.” Jasper says, "He was. not. a. nice man. He was always, and I mean always takin' jabs at me. His reason: In that I'd just left six months of intensive ballet training I'd groomed a ballet 'turn out' and not a jazz, if you will, 'turn in.' So he "Needled me constantly. 'Perfect role for him. A shark!"
That show went to Colorado, and when it was over I stayed in Vegas in a friend's mobile home. TG it was off the "Strip." He stayed for a bit, then went back to Marin Ballet.
Three months later the phone rang and Jasper was asked if wanted to go back to Vegas for another show. "This show was at Lake Tahoe's South Shore Harrah's and in Reno." He ended that contract four months later.
Closing night in Reno, Dana met a dancer from another show. Both shows had closed simultaneously and both their contracts ended. The other dancer David asked Dana, “What are you gonna to do now?” I said, "I guess go back to L.A." David invited Dana to Chicago and he stayed at David’s. Three weeks later, David’s producer, Tony, called and asked if he'd like to be in his new production. David told Tony that I was with him and Tony invited me. It was the end of summer 1977 that Dana went to Seattle with 42nd Street's Gotta Dance Company. "It was the same cast from Tony's Reno show."
"The show in Seattle was a blast! We performed at Jack McGovern's Music Hall Theater. "Summer in a great city with a great organic and loving group of dancers, as well with Tony, a very gracious producer from London."
Abrupt In The Midst Of A Show
Dana can't remember how long they were in Seattle. That show, in Seattle, not from Tony's end but the other side had contracted Tony under misleading, illegal 'stuff.' 'They' muscled Tony out of his remaining contract. "The next day we were police escorted out of the theater. The group of us, a little stunned, sat around and questioned each other, 'What are ya gonna do? Where ya gonna go? New York, LA? They all went their separate ways." Dana back to Marin ballet.
In autumn, Jasper headed back to L.A. where his dance roots had been established. Commercials, film, television, concert work followed.
Dana went to an audition One day in April. "I didn't know the show I was auditioning for. All that I knew, there was a casting at MGM Studios in Beverly Hills.
Jasper recalls, "I'm extremely dyslexic. I confused the men's audition time with the women's audition time." As Dana walked toward the audition all the guys were leavin'. "Hey, you're late. You missed it!" "I kept walkin' ."
"When I walked in, it was a huge sound stage. I mean huge. The girls were just about to audition. There were at least a hundred girls standin' shoulder-to-shoulder. I said to the panel of judges, "Oops," and started out the door when, from the center of the girls, a girl called out 'Dana! Come here. Stand next to me.' I knew her but not well.' I went to the center and stood on Cheryl's right. She was from Wisconsin and one of LA's top dancers. She had the clout to have me stand next to her. I can't remember anything else other than the audition started with a tap number. That's all I remember: I walked in, said, "Oops" stood by Cheryl and tapped."
"Walter Painter, the director at the audition was/is the most celebrated director and choreographer in LA."
Walter called Dana personally and asked him if he'd like to be in his production. It was to dance at the '79 Academy Awards show in March. It was dancing with Barbra Streisand. Her new movie "The Main Event" about boxing had just been released."
On the phone with Walter, Dana was about to give a big fat "Yes!" The friend he was staying with came through the door at the same time and blurted out, "You wanna drive to Chicago and stay for three weeks?" She's a singer and had a gig in Chicago. Without a thought, Dana said "No" to Walter and was on his way to Chicago.
Dana went to Chicago purely for the excitement of the drive and to a city where he'd already been for three weeks before Seattle. When three weeks were up in Chicago and the day before driving back to LA, Dana spontaneously met a producer who on the next day was holding auditions for a show. Dana was selected and never went back to LA. He never looked back and he's been a resident of Chicago for 37 years.
After 23 years in Chicago, show after show in and out of Chicago, Nationally, South America, the Netherlands and the UK, his agent in Chicago garnered a national commercial for Dana. On set, while he was working with the commercial product, a transportation vehicle, it malfunctioned and threw him on the side of his head injuring him. That day was in October of 2003.
Image on left: The universe full of obstacles called "Life's Challenges."
Dana had to sever his long-standing career and social network. For the next 12 year's Dana suffered from serious depression. Depression mixed with PTSD. He says, "Depression framed in PTSD or any other is not good. It's in the depth of this level of depression which suicidal ideation rears it's head without being invited." He continues, "On top of that, I had a horrible 10-year lawsuit. I then fired my attorney and represented myself. It was a gr8 distraction. I liked it. It was playing a different role than what I was accustomed to."
Writing, and More Writing
Jasper told me he "loved to write." Dana, at the time, in 2000 had a three-year stint with his own column in a Chicago newspaper. It was called "Rush Street" by DK Sweeney. Rush Street: The famed and infamous Gold Coast street: Sinatra and those cast of characters, jazz clubs, Billies; the definition of "A Tottling Town." He told me, "I told my publisher I wanted to interview artists. She, KMH, an Illinois senator's sister said 'Great, and while you're at it review new restaurants." Otherwise, it was eating, sleeping, dancing, modeling, writing, commercial shoots, film and then added to the mix was a radio show with CRIS RADIO, Chicago Radioland Information Services. "I had this show for three years. Jasper said "I walked in off the street. I cold- called. I thought Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie would do it why not me?" So I did. I asked the receptionist to speak to the main producer. Two minutes later I was interviewed by Stephen the studio producer. I said put me on air. He said "We don't have anything open now. You have a good voice but there's nothing open. I said, "Ya gotta have something." Stephen rifled through a stack of lead sheets. There was a 45-minute show called "The Golden Age." It was lining up and interviewing senior citizens. I said, "I'm gonna be a senior citizen at some point so it's mine!" It was pretaped and aired that afternoon. At one point my mom was in town so I interviewed my mother.
Jasper said, "Believe me every kid needs to interview their parent's. You really see who you're dealing with. They think they're dealing with you, well, it goes both ways. When someones live, on the air, pretense doesn't fit into the equation, where as specification does." Five months later I told Stephen, "I have time to do another show," so I co-hosted a live magazine show with a fantastic woman Ruth Waterman Schwartz. Ruth was a trip. We got along. We just got along. Ruth didn't have a co-host, nor did she want one. We met and the next day I had my own co-host seat next to ruth. We had so much fun they continued the series. Ruth had been the drama supervisor for the Chicago Park District for 29 years. Boy did we have fun! Ruth supervised the Theatre On The Lake at Lake Shore Drive and Fullerton.
Shrink, Shrunk & Shrank
"I'd been in therapy since I was 40. It's been 22 years. A straight 22 years with no let up.
Along with therapy went medication and I tried many until I got the right "mix."
It takes years and years and a lifetime to achieve authenticity. The intrapersonal."
OWIE--The Paint Hits My Toe
Just before Dana started to paint, he took his given middle name Kirk and from the ether he took on Jasper. Dana had become JasperKIRK.
Independence Day 2014, a little bottle of acrylic paint a painter friend, his best bud, Carl gave Jasper fell off a shelf and onto his big toe. Jasper said, "This little bottle of paint, I mean little, hit my toe in the sweet spot of the joint. It stung like hell. Not soon after a cyst appeared."
Having never considered painting, the next day Jasper bought 16 pints of acrylic paint and he's painted ever since.
Blog-Blog-Blog Yachta -Yachta
Jasper originally wanted to paint one painting a day for 365 days. "Project 365" as well blog in tandem from the Fourth of July, 2014, to the Fourth of July, 2015. After his first month, he had 158 paintings. Jasper changed "Project 365" to "Challenge 1,200."
Jasper: "From the first day of painting the only voice I heard was: 'Paint! PAINT! PAINT!" And so he did.
Jasper: "My studio is so small I don't know how I painted 15-18 paintings day. I've broken my toe five times, cut's and bruises from who knows where, tendonitis in both feet, hands and elbows. All that painting didn't marry well with my previous aches and pains. 'Painting is the easy part, it's the constant cleanup that takes a toll."
After reaching 1,200 paintings and over 400 blogs, Jasper couldn't afford the blog upgrade so he left off there.
Late April 2015, FOX News featured Jasper at 946 paintings just 254 shy of 1,200.
All the bullying, all the depression had released into what Jasper calls "... the finest of art therapy." After 18 months JasperKIRK had painted well over 2,500 paintings. "The greatest experience in my art therapy came at about 600 paintings in the form of a brake down. It was then that I realized I had to break down first in order to breakthrough." I asked Breakthrough what? With eyebrows up, Jasper said, "My past."
Jasper: "My foremost inspiration comes from my parent's. My father had a very loose, respectful leash on me. My mother, the opposite. My mom had a way of tweaking the drab into the creative. She was very resourceful which leads to originality. She was a stunning woman ala Sophia Loren although she'd always decline the realization. Everything reflected her natural beauty."
"My second inspiration comes from a true friend, Carl. He, at a time, was a prolific painter too. He started painting two years before I did although not by accident. Carl's the one that sent me the little bottles of acrylic when my depression had spiraled. It was one of those little bottles, the blue one, that fell on my toe."
"My second biggest inspiration comes from Maxx. A woman I've known nearly 40 years. Maxx is not only an artist, her many iconic logos and ad campaigns are ubiquitous, tagged by substantial awards. She has impeccable taste in every sense. The art Maxx collects is striking, organic, rustic. If Maxx likes my work, this carries huge kudos!"
My mother was a genius of Trompe L'oeil. She was a catch-as-catch-can artist as the family, home and social activities always came first.
I'm the opposite of my mother in many, many ways. The juxtaposition here is that I paint abstract."
For the first 1,200 painting's Jasper painted on 36"x36" treated paper with Polymer Gloss, gel, and Gesso. After he ran out of paper and his funds were lower than low, Jasper started painting on found materials in his studio and surrounding dumpster dives: cardboard, panel, canvas, cabinets, his kitchen floor, shoe boxes, jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes and an occasional face. He'd also painted a 45'x25' mural for a new cafe "Cassava Cafe" in Chicago at 1211 North LaSalle.
On June 2nd, 2016, Jasper's first submission won him 1st Prize in Momma's juried international art competition for his work called "Springtime Reflection."
After FOX News featured JasperKIRK, JasperKIRK was given a new title, the "Accidental Painter."
He continues to paint every day in his very small Chicago studio. "Studio 1250."
When I asked Jasper, "Outside of selling your work, and you've such an extensive portfolio, what would you like to do with your art?" He didn't hesitate with an answer. "I'd like to have the largest one-man art exhibition in the world." I asked what venue would be suited for such an Exhibition? "Since I live in Chicago, it's a no-brainer, Navy Pier. It would take at least four days to take it all in.
During the exhibition, I'm gonna have the same music I played that Carl gave me. I listened to about 20 pieces over-and-over-and-over again
for about 1,500 paintings. I had no other music source. It wasn't about music it was about the VOG: 'Paint. PAINT. PAINT!" Music was tertiary." I asked Jasper what else is filtering through that brain of yours? Jasper: "You mean the right hemisphere of my brain?" I said, "Yea, that side." Jasper: I Recently put out feelers nationally and in Latin American countries, Dubai and the UK to sell my name and entire collection." I asked, "Why Dubai?" Jasper: "My paintings, vertically, edge-to-edge are nearly 2,000 feet taller than the Burg Khalifa. Or taller. Remember, I'm not too bright when it comes to math. Horizontally, they'd wrap around the base of the Great Giza Pyramid a couple times." I actually said, "That's a lot of paint." Then what? "I'd still like to paint and usher the work under someone else's business umbrella. I also want to sell my original, digitally enhanced photos which I shot several years ago." So, you're a photographer as well? "No. Not at all. I know nada about photography. The process came by way of accident. Although I have a keen eye, I never wanted to be a photographer until I stumbled upon how to manipulate pixels. This sounds like tech-erudition. trust me, it was totally the opposite."
During Jasper's 1,200 paintings he broke three headsets and 7 pairs of glasses all during anger spells which were quite frequent. He said, "Where else is all that pushed down anger suppose to go?" Art therapy at its finest! "Anger ignited my creativity but not all the time." One doesn't have to look close to see which paintings encompass anger. "Many of my gardens were painted in anger, in fact, that's how I started painting gardens.
From the beginning, I'd use way too much paint and the work would become muddy so I planted seeds in that mud. Now every time I don't like where the direction of a piece is going I plant a garden by default."
Jasper's philosophy: "In the long run, all which I thought were bad things that careened into me became the red push-pins on my journey's map. We who've experienced 60+ years of life, some, not all see it as such."
"I said in the beginning that sadness was attached to being uneducated, which is true, however, I see it differently now. I was educated in what I needed to be educated in. I wasn't learning traditional, conventional knowledge, but I did learn analyzation, philosophy, symbolism, numerology. I delved deeply into the fine art of intuition and insight.
During 1970-72 I stayed on a friend's houseboat in Sausalito about 5 boats from where Alan Watt's had a houseboat. We and many others' became pier-plank friends while coming and going. Alan was genuine and approachable. A spirited man.
I was in his very rustic houseboat several times. The glass doors were always open and whoever wanted in, dove in. This culture was more than imposing. I was raised in a different community and environment. Yet, I felt safe. It was necessary to be there because years later I acknowledged he and I reflected each other although I never drank, smoked weed, or dropped acid--if I did imbibe, I'd have been a fish on a shiny hook. This image of Alan (not my work), is what Alan would've looked like to me if I'd been on acid, which Alan was, but I wasn't. Actually, this is how Alan would've seen me."
There were always people at Alan's. These friends, his secondary family, and family, were held captive through an invisible connective tissue, that of inspiration, which wove through cumulous clouds of Maryjane from dawn to dusk, and wee hours after midnight. I'd be getting back to my friend's houseboat and I'd see Alan walking by himself up the planks to the shore. And sit. A crowd remained in rhythm to Alan and Alan's houseboat. The volume from voices, not as high as one would expect, yet, most were "high" which is what I suspect, and expected. I remember my parent's having big parties. I'd leave the house and watch and listen from
afar. I think Alan did the same thing."
I was with Alan alone several times. I I didn't know who he was, universally." He was so different from my father. Alan, not by want, had been a father figure to many; I witnessed his stature giving praise. He was a renaissance man. A long time later I had my "take" on the man: to me, it was reality versus realities" which I'd experienced first hand. Robin Williams said it best in his stand-up comedy show called: "Reality. What A Concept!"
Jasper says, "Many people, over time, not lately, called me a renaissance man. I didn't know what that meant although I had images of me in a thread worn robe with long grainy hair, a scraggly beard, was pitifully dirty, hungry, barefoot and creative."
Jasper: "Every true artist, and by true I mean true artist, is of renaissance nature. When all one can do is create before anything else. Creativity in nature and creativity in man is not separate if in a parallel universe. Nature let's go and does, and a true artist lets go and does, too, no matter the medium"
Jasper said he "Tripped smack dab into the middle of truth," but only when he started to paint. He said, "Someone asked me not too long ago, "Do you consider yourself an artist?" Jasper: "If someone thinks I'm an artist, then in their eyes I'm an artist."
I heard before I started painting that "One is only a true artist if she/he makes a living from it." Jasper: "Now that I paint I know how I feel about this. 'They have innate business acumen which becomes their medium, the art of selling. They found a recipe which worked and sold. Their art may become stagnant being on somewhat of a conveyor belt but their saving's account isn't. It's just how their artist nature evolved."
TO BE CONTINUED