Born in West Virginia, October 29, 1932, then raised until six in Cochran,
Georgia. A divorce bought my mother, my two older sisters and I to the
Bronx, Gates Place, opposite Van Cortland Park, where I was raised until
breaking out to play baseball, study acting and go to the army during
the Korean War. I hardly ever saw my father who had substituted his
Yiddish-Polish accent for a southern drawl very quickly. People actually
paid to hear my accent when I was 6.
At 19, The US Army was like a grant for me. I was sent to Japan when
the war ended in Korea. There, after telling an officer some nonsense
about my journalistic experience, I spent almost two years in Public
Information. Japan thrilled me. It awakened talents that lay buried
for several years. I began to paint and managed to study with a Zen
master-painter, Kimura Kyoen in Kyoto. "Study" is incorrect.
The man loved me, even showed my work in a giant temple because my black
and white brush drawings contained nothing of traditional art. It did
have the excitement achieved when one draws without preconception. The
Army kept giving me leaves to be rid of me. I often lived in a Buddhist
temple run by an woman priestess whom I loved. A painting of her and
I is in "Models".
I returned to N.Y. considering myself a painter but was frightened to
just do it, so with the GI Bill I went to New York University. There
I met Philip Guston who told me it's best not to teach painting because
it could waste you. Therefore I studied art history while painting at
night. After the B.A. I went on to the Institute of Fine Arts for three
years. I quit just before my M.A.