“Once you stop putting energy into pretending you will live forever, you can actually live fully now. The alternative, the delusion of permanence is exhausting and painful. Every change becomes a new disappointment. The sooner we face the truth of change, the sooner we can stop pretending and actually live while we are alive.”

– Ian Lawton


Ghost Child

Ghost Child Framed 150dpi

Ghost Child; oil on canvas/ 36 x 48 / Montana Black

Quietly turning the back door key
Stepping outside she is free…

This is a portrait of my mother after her passing. She was abused and neglected as a child., and this is my attempt to envision her finally breaking free from the hurt and deep emotional pain she always carried with her in life. The skyscape postcard on the lower left is there to suggest a way out into the Mojave. To me the desert is a very healing place…especially the Mojave – silent, vast, beautiful. The socks are intended to give the impression of things that concern home, family and childhood. The marbles are also a refer to children. The cardinals are my mother and also a kind of angelic presence watching and guiding souls on their journeys through this plane of existence.  I believe my mother is at peace and is on to new and, I hope, happier adventures.

Partial lyric from “She’s Leaving Home” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Dear Blue Angel…


Dear Blue Angel150 dpi

Dear Blue Angel; oil on canvas/ 30 x 40 / Montana Black

Blue Angel has been part of the landscape for many people my age who grew up in Las Vegas. This piece is about how she impressed me as child. I can remember when I was a kid riding in the back seat of my parents car and always on the lookout for her when we would get close to the intersection of Charleston and Freemont.

There are a couple of acknowledgements I would like to make. I would like to thank Bryan McCormick– a brilliant photographer for allowing me to reference his beautiful close up of the Blue Angel statue; featured in the Las Vegas Weekly in an article entitled “Bye, Blue Angel: Motel comes down, but the iconic figurehead will remain ” by Kristen Peterson . Also, there is a reference to the Blue Fairy from the 1940 Walt Disney animated film Pinocchio.

Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

From: Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays
Copyright ©: Mary Oliver


Apollo – My Dad

Apollo my dad 150dpi

Apollo – My Dad: oil on canvas; 36×48 / Montana Black

I was attempting to do a portrait of my father with this piece. The imagery and symbols within relate to my perception of him. He died when I was a young child, so what I have in my mind are shadows of ideas about who he may have been. What I feel about my dad is centered around my belief about his love of the desert – especially the desert southwest, hence the use of the image of Bryce Canyon and the Joshua tree.

Apollo is a Greek god associated with the sun and spring. I used a partial lyric from a Kate Bush song – ” your sun’s coming out…just saying it could even make it happen..” I was referring to my sun as well as my father’s. The blue jays, like with all the birds I use in my work, are about transcendence – emotional and spiritual liberation. I associate the jay with my father for some reason I am not quite sure about yet.
The camp chairs and words “black coffee” and “drive” are about road trips which I strongly associate with my dad. Some of my earliest and only memories of are of camping trips in our Airstream trailer.