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Mar 25, 2018

My Forrest Gumpy Life: A Film Career with John Carradine


Appearing as a miner on set for filming in 1976.
There are chapters in my life that seem absolutely unbelievable, though perfectly true. For instance I was once hired to play a scene in a film opposite the legendary actor John Carradine, of Grapes of Wrath fame! This was a made-for-TV film I auditioned for when I was 20 or so. The film was a story about a coal mine disaster, called Christmas Miracle in Caufield, USA, starring Kurt Russell, Melissa Gilbert and Michael Ryan. For this scene I played a homeless drifter playing harmonica on the street when John's character came along and the two of us engaged in a short conversation.

As you might have guessed, the scene was ultimately cut from the film and I appeared only as a miner in the background of a couple of scenes. But I did get to hang out with the actors and watch a film being shot on location, a new and interesting experience for me, who would later help start a film company (did I mention unbelievable chapters? That will be addressed in time...) Sadly, the film was not that great, but the experience was unforgettable!

It was a decade or so later that a very similar thing happened to my father. He auditioned for and was cast in a film that was being shot near our Montana home, one that you no doubt know of as the classic  A River Runs Through It. Dad was cast as a newspaper editor by Robert Redford, who went out of his way to find historic precedent for a bearded editor at the time specifically so Dad wouldn't have to shave his beard. But alas, the shooting schedule was severely delayed, which finally edged Dad out of the role as he had a commitment in Europe to fulfill. So both our film careers ended up "on the cutting room floor". But they couldn't strip us of the gripping story, of Dad's being cast in a classic and my having once been hired to play opposite a great film star!
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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.