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Feb 27, 2018

My Forrest Gumpy Life: Brush with a Murderer

One of the strangest chapters of my life involves an encounter with a hugely famous music producer who worked with the Beatles, Ike and Tina Turner and many other pop groups. Phil Spector was widely known for creating the "wall of sound" that characterized much of 60's pop music. 

I was 14 years old, walking around an art show in Monterey when when this guy came up to me and introduced himself, saying he liked my look and wanted to audition me to appear in a film! I was flattered with the offer and soon we met for an interview. And so began a series of meetings with him that seemed as though I was headed into a career as a film actor. I would later characterize the relationship as little more than rather mild case of sexual abuse––an older man's inappropriate attraction to a young one––but at the time, it was pretty exciting. I didn't know until years later that he was actually a very famous guy. He rented a series of fancy houses close to Carmel, where I spent summers with my family. He'd come pick me up in a snazzy sports car and take me to his house, which was full of gold records on the walls and we would discuss vague details of the script of a film. I recall meeting him several times over a couple years, most of which were fairly innocuous incidents where he'd cook me a great meal or take me into town to buy me fancy clothes. He even came to visit the family a couple times, so none of us suspected much.

The most memorable encounter was when he drove me once to a house in the woods near Big Sur. We'd just arrived and were about to make lunch when he saw someone outside and told me to hide! I stood behind the couch while he crept about trying to keep away from a woman who was climbing around outside looking in the windows and calling to him. She finally saw Phil and called out to him to open the door. Caught, he let her in and he introduced me to a woman, Candice, whose last name I forgot. We sat in the living room and she took a real interest in me, asking me for instance about the sermon my dad had preached that morning in a local church. It wasn't til I got home later that afternoon that I told my family the story and described her work that my Mom recognized who I was referring to: the great actress, Candice Bergen!

Phil even came to Montana once to visit me, but he lost interest as I kept demanding more explanations, finding little evidence of a film; just a creepy old guy with a peculiar interest in a youngster. It was about 25 years later that Phil, who'd become strange and reclusive as he got older, say his friends, was pegged in a huge national scandal which resulted in his conviction for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.