The Lick

1998, Aluminum, 12’ x 7’ x 5’

When I first bought my sailboat and moved from Chicago to Key West, I brought all my leather and heavy metal music attitude with me. I learned quickly that it’s way too hot in the Florida Keys to wear leather of any kind, and shredding guitar in sandals seemed preposterous. The leather got buried in the closet and eaten by mold remarkably fast, so I shipped my motorcycle jacket and biker boots back up north. Unfortunately, I missed a Pantera concert in Ft. Lauderdale, because there was no way I was entering that heavy metal mosh pit in flip-flops. At least metal guitar icon Darrell “Dimebag” Abbot wore camouflage shorts onstage, which helped me transition to the warmer climate and still be metal.

The first few years in Florida were tough. Planning to work as a rock musician and live on my boat; I found the first few years in Florida to be exceptionally difficult before I got my Captain’s license, so I bounced between Chicago and Key West. After I finished a sculpture project up north and got paid, I found myself turning around and heading down to the southernmost city to spend my time and energy restoring systems on my sailboat during the day; and jamming at the Hideaway, the local hard core music venue, at night. This went on for a few years, and in 1998, I participated in the Chicago Navy Pier Sculpture Walk; which at the time was the largest outdoor sculpture show in the world. Created in three weeks, specifically for the event, ‘The Lick’ accomplishes one of the most difficult moves in art; a three dimensional representation of a musical expression. Artistically, it also completes my theories on freestanding sculpture and achieves true omnidirectional status. Without a top or bottom; the ‘Lick’ can be displayed in a variety of positions, each as interesting as the next.

After moving to Key West full time, I poured my metal and sculpture skills into the restoration of my sailboat. My welder earned it’s value in critical infrastructure and rigging assignments. It never occurred to me before that sculptors and shipwrights often share many of the same skill sets. Both trades work with not only a lot of unusual shapes and curves also inside a seemingly impossible variety of narrow corners and tight spaces. I found I evolved as an artist in my new environment, even adapting my boat’s name from the Rage to COURAGE. We sailed to foreign ports for adventure and we sailed spinnakers at night and in heavy weather just for fun. Eventually I learned how to make sculptures out of local indigenous materials such as coconuts and recycled boat parts. After acquiring property, I moved inland and created my own oasis; a perfect combination of a Chicago metal shop and an Italian marble carving studio.