In July of 1986, I took a leave of absence from my position at Valley City State University, in Valley City, ND, in order to begin work toward a Ph.D. at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. I had researched other universities like Ball State University and Purdue University, but Texas Tech offered the degree I most wanted, a Ph.D. in Fine Arts. They were also amenable to my being able to finish the degree in an accelerated plan. I completed my course work in twelve months, and after returning to my position in North Dakota, I began work on my dissertation, and everything was finished in two years and one month from when I began. It was a tough, but enjoyable, task.
Lubbock, TX lies in the South Plains Panhandle of Texas, 120 miles south of Amarillo. Besides having a great university, Lubbock, TX is most known as the town of Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly’s band was known as the Crickets, which later inspired Paul McCartney and John Lennon to name their band the Beatles. A larger-than-life statue of Buddy Holly stands in "The West Texas Walk of Fame," located on the corner of 19th Street and Crickets Avenue in the Buddy and Maria Elena Holly Plaza across from the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock.
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.