Artist Statement

         "Never worry about a thing..." John Gabriel Beckman
 
 
                           

  

I'll take his statement...
 
It took a long time before I got what he meant - carefree moments are like birds that land for a moment, only to take off again, and if your mind is elsewhere, you might just miss it.
 
I was lucky enough to have a mentor in muralist John Gabriel Beckman, whose works included the fabulous interiors of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and William Wrigley Jr's opulent Avalon Casino on Catalina Island of the 1920s. He was 86; I was 25 when we met. John was larger than life, full of stories, drove about in a red jeep, and never stood still. He had survived the San Francisco earthquake, experienced near-misses with plane crashes, and even the sinking of the Titanic. He'd brushed shoulders with the children of Tsar Nicolas II of Russia and was childhood friends with the elusive Anastasia, had lost the love of his life, then rebuilt a decimated fortune. Retirement was not on John's cards; he was too young. He was still working at 90 years of age, as the set designer for the popular TV show Designing Women.
 
 
Beckman was only 25 years old himself when he designed the interior of the Avalon Casino and found that William Wrigley's deadline precluded him from executing the exterior murals in tile, as originally intended. We became fast friends when tile artist Richard Keit hired me to work on the 18' high "Mermaid" foyer mural that Keit reproduced in tile from Beckman's original 1920s sketches. 
 
At 86, appalled that his mermaid's nubile body had aged horrifically through repeated assaults of paint over the years, young-minded Beckman was on a mission to restore her to her 1926 good looks - and unabashed sexuality - by reproducing the mural in tile. John passed away 4 years after I met him, leaving his mermaid restored to beauty, and although he was 90 it took me by surprise... I hadn't ever thought of him as old. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but he influenced me and my art greatly - and impacted my view of life. He'd experienced his own share of loss in his lifetime, yet his best advice came in five words: 
 
"Never worry about a thing..."