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Some Ghosts are Given Up While Others are Painted

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

Give up the Ghost...I mean you Stickball 1995

26" × 50" framed

Oil on Canvas

Poor inner city kids have limited paths out of their underprivileged situations. Those limited avenues out of poverty are dimly illuminated only by their dreams. Those who are determined enough and nourish those dreams are the ones fortunate enough to fulfill them.

No sob story or excuses, the truth is in my narrative. My only two real aspirations in life was baseball and painting. Before art school, I spent most of my young life (through the age of 16) playing organized ball. I was determined to pitch in the majors. What I had in passion and desire was disproportionate to the lack of a family support system. My mom did the best she could or knew how to support me, but in the end didn't have the resources or the aptitude to realize how important baseball was in my life.

Those that reach the pantheon of any professional sports will attest the unrelenting support of their mom and dads or families for getting them there. Years of love and endless devotion to their cause. Sacrificing weekends, holidays for traveling leagues and tournaments, not to mention never ending practice schedules.

The reality is perhaps no matter how good I was at baseball, it would be a dream displaced. My father walked out on me when I was three and my mother barely cared enough. Ten years of youth baseball from minors to pony league and AA modified team, my mother never attended a single game.

As painting became more luminescent in lighting my path out of poverty and into a successful life, being articulate and objective about what baseball meant me was an important story to tell. As an undergraduate at Maryland Institute college of Art, I was learning to express that narrative through my painting.

"Give up the Ghost...I mean you Stickball " sets the stage for just that message. Technically not my best work, but probably one of my most poignant with flat direct composition, bright festive colors and meaningful symbolism. Nods to Thelonious Monk within in the title and to Pahlek and Russian Folk Art with a decorative night sky. The pattern work of stars blended with the calaveras of my beloved Latin American style. All witnessed by that shadowy figure looking out his window, I suppose that's me.


"...I mean you Stickball" (detail)

"...I mean you Stickball" (detail)


"Give up the Ghost...I mean you Stickball " sets the stage for just that message. Technically not my best work, but probably one of my most poignant with flat direct composition, bright festive colors and meaningful symbolism. Nods to Thelonious Monk within in the title and o Pahlek and Russian Folk Art with a decorative night sky. The pattern work of stars blended with the calaveras of my beloved Latin American style. All witnessed by that shadowy figure looking out his window, I suppose that's me.

This painting is not to lament the loss of my dream of becoming a ballplayer, it's celebrating my emergence as an artist who no longer sees himself as a pitcher but a painter instead. Not really giving up the ghost but forever immortalizing those wraiths in paint playing stickball on a city street under beautiful starry skyline.

A more sculptural example of calaveras on a beach playing baseball. Imagining those ghosts on a tropical beach rattling around in the sun with stiff breezes and crashing waves.

"Calaveras on the Beach" 2003

Dyptch 8"×20" (framed)

Mixed media on glass

I have an ambivalent feeling about the word "artwork". Lots of time goes into creating art that's successful about half the time, at best. That success is measured more by than just composition and color, it's the ability to convey a feeling or an emotion. Does the painting tell a story in a frame or illustrates a specific event as interpreted by the artist and the visual language in which they narrate it.

"Calaveras on the Beach" (detail)

In both these examples, I feel I got it right! "...I mean you Stickball" was to me the first real piece of art I created in a multitude of seemingly meaningless paintings up to that point. It means more to me the older I get. It's a sacred reminder of a youthful dream, and that of all the painting I do, that every once in while, I can make art.

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