In 1970 my family moved to Djakarta, Indonesia. I was in the midst of finishing up my senior year in high school and beginning to enjoy my new found freedom. I took piano lessons, learned to play a bit of tennis, and traveled. On and off over the years my mother had said that I had an affinity towards making art because she had seen how proficiently I copied the drawings and cartoons in MAD Magazine.
Down the street from us in front of someone’s gate was a large wooden sculpture that reminded me of an egg. She encouraged me to go down the street and introduce myself to the artist who created it which I did. Mr Hadi, the creator of the piece turned out to be a warm, gentle, humble, but very accomplished artist. I would visit him once a week or so and he would give me material and I would attempt emulate what he was working on… or not. Having had no art training or education at all, aside from my little cartoons, I experimented with subjects and images, some humorous, others imaginary, and others more literal.
The Trumpeter was my first painting. When I kept failing to paint a recognizable trumpet I opted for a bottle of alcohol. Why? It’s hard to say. It probably seemed easier to paint.
‘Big Man On Campus’ is of the same vain: a ridiculous looking figure straight out of MAD Magazine.
Cousins was based on three scratching instruments that Mr. Hadi had in his studio. He had painted a much more sophisticated version of this using a combination of painting and batik.
The View was based on what I could see from on top of our water tower in the back of our house: Densely packed homes amidst a lot of trees. In the distance were the mountains and in the foreground, a mosque. In reality it was a church but I thought in honor of living in a Muslim country, I would make the church into a mosque.
The Mask is a copy of a mask worn in any number of folk dancers.
Tukan Man was my attempt to emulate Mr. Hadi’s work, painting oil over wax. There were many small merchants who carried their ‘wares’ on their shoulders who passed by everyday on the street in front of our home . This was the fruit merchant, the Tukan Man. Or at least that is what we called him. shoulder.
Riwan. Chicken fighting was popular although fortunately I never saw it. Riwan was the name of the man who worked in our home. I used him as the model for the picture.
Mozart is my first attempt at drawing a portrait. I think I was looking at a small bust of Mozart sitting on our piano when I drew it. He still looks like something out of MAD Magazine.
Pen and Ink God. This is small sketch I made using water color and pen and ink. I was looking once again at a small statuette.
This collection of work is what I used to apply to the art school at the University of Michigan. Apparently they must have seen something in it, and fortunately they did because almost 40 years later I am still doing it and going strong.