Hmmm….Well, my story began in Hollywood, Florida. I grew up next to a swampland where my friends and I would go on day-long explorations. During these adventures we discovered a Seminole Indian Reservation, an abandoned farm, nudist colony, and yes…lots of alligators. Luckily no one got hurt. Not long after, our wilderness got flattened out by bulldozers and all sorts of heavy machinery. Overnight came a barrage of sewer pipes, streets, homes, telephone poles, and shopping malls. We had to adjust to these harsh conditions, so on weekends and nights we made forts, tree houses, and skateboard parks in the empty swimming pools. My other childhood experiences that influenced my art-making was spending summers at my dad’s penny arcade on Hollywood Beach. To keep me busy, my dad would give me 25 free games on a pinball machine. Many people thought I was a wizard and wanted to be my friend. This was when my social life began to skyrocket. Our family would also travel to many of Florida’s legendary theme parks including Pirate’s World, Six Gun Territory, Lion Country Safari, and of course Disney World. These interactive environments definitely inspired me.
In 1977, I arrived at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Florida. I was lucky that my teachers were great artists and led me down the right path that explored Western and Eastern art as well as folk art, African, Native American art, and World cultures. During that time, I was fully engaged and energized by the rebellious spirit of punk rock. I decided to go to London on a work/study program. There, I founded an art and music magazine called SPIT (Student Paper For Interscholastic Tales). This rag got me back stage at dozens of punk shows. It was a peak moment with such awesome bands as Joy Division, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Blonde, The Clash, and Mission of Burma. That summer, I also got the chance to travel throughout Europe, saw dozens of art museums, churches, music shows, operas, and all sorts of alternative art forms. I even got to meet patti smith in Florence, Italy, where we exchanged gifts. Getting involved with this political youth movement both in England and America gave me an identity as an artist. When I got back to FSU, I immediately got involved with student politics and became the Student Director of Cultural Affairs where I organized art projects both on and off campus.
My next stop was Graduate School at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in partnership with Tufts University. During my first semester, I opened the Basement Art Gallery in downtown Boston. There I installed my first exhibition of interactive artworks made out of bones, bird wings, found objects, and plants, all of which were inspired by my interest in Native American culture. The exhibition got featured in Art In America Magazine which got gallery owners and museum curators interested in my vision. This led to an exhibition at the Rose Art Museum and after that at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
In 1984, I decided to take a train ride cross country to meet Rolling Thunder, a Creek Indian who, for forty plus years, built a visionary folk art environment in the Nevada desert called Thunder Mountain Museum. It was during my stay there that I had a life altering experience. When I got back to Boston I founded The Revolving Museum with the “Little Train That Could…Show,” a public artwork that transformed and revitalized 12 abandoned railroad cars involving dozens of artists, art students, the homeless, and the public.
Hmmm…good question. Well, in 1992, TRM created the “Wonders Of The World PINBALL ARTcade",” a pop-up 24’ foot by 200 foot long interactive pinball machine environment that involved over 350 artists, youth and community members. It was as if the public became the silver ball bouncing through the space. We even had giant flipper, tunnels, bumpers, and kinetic art running through the space. We also involved the blind and deaf community to participate in the show. They made installations that highlight their diverse talents that transcended their disabilities through collaborative art making. Another National Endowment for the Arts funded project included the "Stay-In-School SPOOL 500“ which had an amazing 18’ foot high by 60 foot-long mobile racetrack embellished with spool-designed quilts and checked flag paintings. We worked with the New England Quilt Museum and many other organizations. We also worked with several local High Schools in which students designed, engineered, sculpted and painted over 500 race cars that speeded down the track. We had hand-made trophies given out to the slowest and fastest race cars, most ugly and beautiful cars, the funniest looking cars and the creepiest cars. One talented teen made a zombie car that was all bloody and fell apart on its way down the track. It was like NASCAR meets public art. Everyone loved that project. Other inspiring projects was "A Night A George's Island" a public walkthrough art experience at a haunted Civil War Fort on an island in the Boston Harbor. Three years ago we built the World’s Largest Paper Airplane public artwork that involved the participation of over 5000 people. Now…I’m back in South Florida thinking up the next chapter of The Revolving Museum. The first project is called “WORD PLAY: Florida Road Show,” that will include over 100 artists, poets and youth in the creation of two text-based art-mobiles. I have a hunch that the Florida Roadshow: Word Play is going to make it to the top of the list.
One of our proudest accomplishments was receiving the 2007 Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Commonwealth Award in the category of “Community,” the State’s highest honor in the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences. We have received multiple National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants, and was a Finalist for The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Another is making friends wherever we go. Our signature phrase “Making Space for Art and Community,” suggests our passionate belief that a community can be strengthened through collaborative art especially when you mix the visual, musical, literary, and theatrical. The creative process is without prejudice. It is more about curiosity, self awareness, and open-mindedness. The arts have an uncanny ability to provide people a boundless forum for questioning and sharing the experience of being human. One of my teachers once told me…art is mysterious entertainment. Finally, there is no doubt in my mind that the power of art can be a catalyst for personal, social, environmental, economic, political, and spiritual transformation.