Alex-Powers

1940

appalachian mountains of virginia

worked in father’s coal mines
one mine was just above knee-high
miners worked bent over all day
which prompted me to consider what my life’s work might be

elementary school art class
an oil painting of the tv dog lassie
taking the painting home on the school bus
students on the bus said how good it was
i was embarrassed
the teacher had painted most of it
art and authenticity

loved high school
played sports
very little studying
lots of fun
reverse of goethe’s faust
carefree early life and then yearned for a more intellectually stimulating adult life

not ready for college
it was the opposite of high school for me

bachelor’s degree in mathematics
i chose math because there was less reading

math teacher in non-graded high school near cape kennedy
9th grade son of a cape kennedy rocket scientist
submitted papers of mathematical proof of a 4th dimension of space, etc.
i didn’t understand any of it
returning his paper was very embarrassing
i’m glad there was no youtube.com at the time

my mathematics degree led to computer programming at cape kennedy
there were no computer classes in 1966
on-job-training only
i once spent 3 days looking for an out-of-place comma
drove me to more humane field of study – art

country boy introduced to cultural world

jilted first love
she did introduce me to the arts

writing poetry and local classes in ceramics, drawing, painting
painting and drawing art schools in florida, new york, massachusetts, connecticut

 (10-foot-wide painting titled ‘an autobiography’ is in the exhibition)

took art teaching job at an all-black greensboro, nc junior high school
i would ask a student or teacher to pose after school for a portrait
propped the portrait on a table in the teachers’ lounge the next day
school principal thought i possessed some kind of magic
since i could capture a likeness

myrtle beach, sc 1969
$4 charcoal portraits on the sidewalk
4 summers
noon to midnight
7 days a week

local art teaching in my studio

biggest joys
1 self-employment
2 educating myself
3 making paintings of what i learned 

philosophy
what does life offer
we are all philosophers in the way we live our lives

I don’t want to be a cultural rube

baseball fan as entertainment
i dropped it when i first became interested in art thinking it was silly
later realized that i really enjoyed it – silly or not

artist andrew wyeth

new york city art trips

i luckily had excellent art buddy mentors
they don’t want their names mentioned
because they generously claim they are colleagues rather than mentors
expanded my aesthetic with the help of my mentors

i still remember standing in the middle of my studio
‘i will take the prettiness out of my paintings and see if there is any art left’

traveling and teaching workshops
teaching just as difficult to learn as painting

national juried exhibitions best-of-show awards including
american watercolor society, new york, ny, 1997
san diego watercolor society international juried exhibition, 2002  

articles in art magazines
wrote an art book, painting people in watercolor, a design approach,
which was in print for 17 years

an artist friend mused
‘most artists are angry early and mellow later in life
alex is just the opposite’
i didn’t know enough of the world when i was young to see its fallacies

‘i don’t go to museums to relax or to be soothed.  i don’t go to be reassured that civilization still stands.  art is tough, complicated stuff.  it is always talking, hustling, pushing agendas, and needs to be talked back to, to be questioned and argued with, as well as praised.  if you just ‘warm-and-fuzzy’ it or ‘genius’ it, you’re selling it, and yourself, short’    – holland cotter

‘the arts present the whole uncensored human person – in emotional, physical and intellectual being, and in single and collective form – as no other branch of human accomplishment does’     – helen vendler

art is the same as life

‘perception without conception is blind’  – philosopher immanuel kant
art is more than technique

‘a work of art is useless.  so is a flower’  – oscar wilde
the humanities are a necessary ingredient of life

art critics peter plagens and dave hickey

‘there is no art that is politically neutral’   – lorraine hansberry & james baldwin
those who do not do political art favor the status quo, which is political

‘i’ve always been disappointed in how contemporary artists have given over some of the big questions to other disciplines’ – mark dion
i had been doing social, political and philosophical paintings prior to seeing this comment,
but it was comforting to read

in the process of painting, the images will sometimes ‘talk’ to me and tell me what to do next
that did not happen when i was ‘young at art’

artists richard diebenkorn, robert rauschenberg, anselm kiefer

drawing more than painting

the philosophers say that an unexamined life is not worth living
art examines life

i have no regrets, only joy, about being a self-employed artist

Alex’s Career Jobs
• family farm – pitch-forking cow and horse manure out of the barn in winter when it didn’t smell too badly
• family farm – killed a hog:
* shot in head with gun
* throat slit with butcher knife
* boiling water on an open fire
* with very sharp knives, shaved all the hog’s hair off
* slit down the middle and hung from a tree like a crucifixion
* with both hands, pulled all the inerds out
* done in the winter in early morning.
• father’s coal mine, one of which had a ceiling just above knee high
• lettering ‘names-and-empty-and-full-weight’ on the doors of coal trucks
• plowed neighbors’ gardens with tractor in early spring
• service station attendant
• weeding rose garden, Cape Cod, MA
• public school math teacher, Richmond, VA
• public school football coach, Richmond, VA
• drove Dixie Ball Bearing delivery truck, Richmond, VA
• non-graded high school math teacher, Melbourne, FL
• coached football game in Orange Bowl stadium, Miami, FL (ass’t coach)
• computer programmer, RCA, Cape Kennedy, FL
• with no art degree, taught all-black Jr. High School art, Greensboro, NC
• sidewalk portrait artist; Myrtle Beach, SC; charcoal portraits $4
• oil paint portrait commissions
• taught local art classes, Myrtle Beach, SC
• part-time art teacher; Coastal Carolina College, Conway, SC
• self-employed art workshop teacher: U.S., Canada and Greece.

Artist Statement

I have recently stopped painting. I am now drawing with carbon pencil and pastel. No paint. Also I am now using a casual sketchbook design, primarily with faces and figures that I like. This change is probably due to me needing a break from the social and political paintings that I have done for the last couple of decades. You can probably relate to this change if you get tired of watching the evening news every once in a while and need a break from it – especially politics.

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