In January 1991, I moved from Valley City, North Dakota to Boca Raton, Florida to assume the position as Chair of the Music Department at Florida Atlantic University. I had served as Chair of the Division of Fine Arts (as well as Chair of the Music Department) at Valley City State University, since 1972. Moving from North Dakota to Southeast Florida during the end of December was quite an experience, especially since my wife and I left North Dakota at the beginning of a major snowstorm, and bad weather was with us all the way to Georgia where we finally began shedding coats and boots!
Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as a two-year upper level university with President Lyndon Johnson officiating at the dedication. In 1984, FAU expanded to include freshman and sophomore students. For a complete history of this fascinating university, I direct you to the following website: http://fau.edu/explore/history.php.
One of the attractions for moving to Boca Raton, FL, was, of course, the weather, even though it did take a few years to adjust to the hot and humid summer months. I was also attracted to the art climate in an area where art street fairs are common fare throughout the winter months. There are art shows up and down the Southeast coast of Florida: Art Basel, in Miami; Festival of Art, in Coral Gables; Festival of the Arts, in Boca Raton; Delray Affair, in Delray Beach; Las Olas Art Fair, in Ft. Lauderdale, to name only a few. In the back of my mind, I thought that whenever I decided to leave the academic world, I would be in a great environment to finally pursue life as an artist. That opportunity came to me when I stepped down from my administrative position in 2003, but continued my work at FAU, teaching Music Theory and Composition. I was able to devote much more time to painting, especially during the summer months when I was not teaching. I retired from my teaching position at FAU in 2012, and began painting full-time. Since I began this new life, I have been represented in several galleries in Florida: Kennedy Art Gallery and Blue Marlin Gallery, in Key West; California Fine Art Gallery and ArtCetera Gallery, in Boca Raton; Genesis Art Gallery and Studio 19 Fine Art Gallery, in Ft. Lauderdale; Linda White Gallery and Arts Arena Gallery, in Delray Beach; and Sweet Art Gallery, in Naples, FL. Unfortunately, art galleries come and go. By January 2016, all but one of these galleries closed their doors, so I made the decision to work harder at website sales, and it has turned out to be rather successful.
At the core of my being, and in my heart and soul, I was always an artist. There was a tug-of-war in my life between art and music. Both of my parents were very accomplished musicians. My father worked in an office at DO ALL Tools in Detroit by day, and played in nightclubs by night with the Don Pablo Orchestra. He was also a private music teacher every Saturday at Hewitt’s Music Store and Studios in Dearborn. My father received his music training from the Detroit Institute of Music. My mother received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Wayne State University in Detroit. She was an exceptional French horn player, and upon graduation from Wayne State, was invited to audition for the New York Philharmonic. She decided, instead, to get married and worked as a Junior High Band Director in the Detroit Public Schools. My maternal grandfather, who was a tremendous artist, had the largest influence on me in my early childhood, ultimately causing a struggle within me between my love and respect for my parents and the love and respect for my grandfather. My grandfather passed away when I was 12 years old, and although I followed the path of art as a freshman in high school, I was drawn to music in my junior year, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Throughout my life, the struggle remained within me, wondering what would have happened had I pursued a career in art instead of music. I continued drawing and painting, and I enrolled in life-drawing classes from time to time. After retiring from my music career in 2012, I was finally able to return to my love of art, and I now can enjoy painting every day, and all day if I choose. There is no longer an inner struggle, and I am totally at peace with this choice.