I guess the first thing you should know is that I'm not a full-time artist. I've been "artistic" all my life, and early on, I was schooled in just about any medium you might name, from charcoal to oils, from watercolor to clay.
But I felt a different call when it came to my actual vocation, and I spent nearly 30 years in the newspaper business, starting with my high school job as a copy boy.
Yes, a real copy boy. That was back when reporters wrote their stories on typewriters.
As a reporter, I did and saw things most folks never do. I went to murder scenes and plane wrecks, saw the devastation of hurricanes and huge tornadoes. I interviewed rock stars and notorious killers.
Along the way, I even wrote a book, which somebody actually published. The title is "Jack's Law." It's the true story of a judge in Birmingham, Ala., a real law-and-order type who wound up being prosecuted for accepting bribes. It was a crazy story, and I followed it closely for years. The book is no longer in print, but it does still have an Amazon page, oddly enough.
The best thing I ever did was have the good sense to propose marriage to a smart, funny, beautiful girl that I fell crazy in love with in college. Her name is Nancy, and to this day, she is still the best thing about me (sorry, that's me borrowing lyrics from Train and U2).
Whether it's my art or some other crazy scheme I've come up with, Nancy has always supported me.
We are childless by choice. I usually tell folks that I am my only child. Because of that, we lavish way too much attention on our cats, and they're well aware that they're completely in charge.
Thrown Art is largely a manifestation of my midlife crazy. I don't like to call it a crisis because I never really experienced the whole crisis part. But I've been plenty crazy.
For the most part, I had hung up the art side of myself. I did the occasional painting for my wife, but I never thought I was good enough at the "traditional" arts to go pro.
Then Thrown Art showed up. It started simply enough.
Follow me for a second: I believe that when a young man finishes college, he should have three things in his possession: a STOP sign, a bookcase made of loose boards and cinderblocks, and a female mannequin.
As I got older, I got rid of the STOP sign and replaced the shelves with real bookcases, but my wife, bless her tolerant heart, never made me get rid of my mannequin of a female upper torso.
I kept saying I'd do something "artsy" with the mannequin, and she'd say, "Do whatever you want. It's fine with me."
The mannequin sat on top of my tall dresser, usually adorned with a hat of some kind (I love silly hats; the sillier the better). One day, shortly after Mardi Gras, I happened to look at a pile of beads I had plunked down on the bedroom floor and just left there, then I looked up at the mannequin.
I looked back at the beads. Then I looked back at the mannequin.
I'm pretty sure you could've heard the click.
I dragged the beads and the mannequin out to the garage. I spray painted the mannequin black because I figured that would be the best background for the colorful beads.
We were both surprised and pleased by the result. Then came the opportunity in 2004 to participate in a public art project in Florida, called The Chair Affair. I beaded an entire Adirondack chair, and the reactions it evoked told us that I was onto something.
Since then, I've hung pieces in a Starbucks, had a booth at a couple of art fairs, had a piece accepted for a juried art show, hung pieces in two galleries, and since 2009, we've spent a number of weekends in Jackson Square in New Orleans, talking to tourists and locals and selling art.
I make art that makes me happy. The result is that I don't do many things more than once.
A Thrown Art buyer has taste that's more adventurous. When I find those people, and they find a piece they love, I couldn't be happier. It's like finding just the right owner for a pet you've become attached to.