Born: Camagüey, Cuba, 1950 Served in Vietnam, U.S. Army 525th Military Intelligence Group 504th Signal Battalion, Chu Lai Radio Teletype Operator, 1971-72
From the Artist:
In the summer of 1970, I was listening to Jimi Hendrix play "The Star Spangled Banner" in Georgia; in the summer of 1971 I was on a Huey chopper, en route to Beautiful Chu Lai by the Sea. For Americans the war was winding down; the Americal Division was withdrawing from Chu Lai, except for me and about sixty other lucky soldiers, assigned to look for signs of American POWs in military intelligence field detachments. Always there was the fear that someone or something terrible would materialize.
When I was eventually withdrawn, I went in one day from Chu Lai to Da Nang to Saigon on a Huey, then on the Freedom Bird back to the World: to a bubble chair, Day-Glo, black light, homegrown grass, Miller draft, and the banks of the river Charles. Within one week of notification I was in Boston. For years I dreamed of that strange man at the window; was he attempting to give me some sort of signal? Who is looking out and who is looking in?
This painting has been worked and reworked for more than twenty years and at times destroyed, though the original portrait was always resurrected. That's the whole Vietnam connection: sometimes the memories are very sharp, sometimes buried or covered over in paint. Sometimes the memories and the painting sat in a closet of sorts, only to resurface again. It is an attempt to accept and face the reality of Vietnam, to document on canvas one image that might bring closure.