Born: Española, New Mexico, 1942 Served in Vietnam, U.S. Navy, USS Kitty Hawk Yankee and Dixie Stations, South China Sea, Assistant Boiler Division Officer and Administrative Assistant to Chief Engineer 1967
From the Artist: From a memoir, 1992:
1967—Slowly, very slowly I began to realize that being on board the Kitty Hawk wasn't just a hiatus from college and my art. I brought an art work in progress with me, thinking I could get to it sometime. No time for art making! The reality began to set in when I first saw the Vietnam Highlands from the captain's deck. What a jolt I felt, being so close to Vietnam. A sense of insecurity ran through me and for a moment I panicked. There was always something surreal about me being a naval officer. Having no engineering degree, but a B.A. in art, it made no sense to me to be placed in the ship company's engineering department.
General Quarters was always something I hated, but when it wasn't just a practice drill I never really knew what the outcome and consequences would be—the injuries and death. General Quarters gave me my first on-board experience of death: a boiler blew and the steam and blast killed a young seaman instantly. Others followed: a helicopter landing on deck badly and tilting overboard, four crewman dead; another Elmer Fudd landing with port wheels off deck, helicopter tilting overboard, six dead. And the many pilots who died. Too many intelligent, energetic, committed young pilots; I'd have breakfast or lunch with them and they never returned for dinner.
In 1984, I began to search for a design or symbol to use for a series of art works on political issues; I chose the American flag. I wanted to move away from abstraction; in the process I found myself rediscovering the pain from these past events.