I was born in Brooklyn. We moved from Brooklyn, to Queens when I was about four years old, and lived in Long  Island City, Queens, until I went to college in 1969. And I never went back to the neighborhood except to visit my father in Queensbridge Houses. I attended Jamaica High School as part of the College Discovery & Development Program. It was an early test programs, where the question was if we provide these young black children with supports, through counseling, through special trips, if we collect them together and let them travel as a group as a unit, as part of an upwardly mobile program that these kids are destined to go to college. It was a totally supported and funded government program during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The premise was that, if given sufficient supports, that were on parallel with the support that white kids expected to receive. Things like loving guidance, children were placed with the most honored instructors, teachers. Teachers who had a desire to work with difficult children. Desire. Not teachers who felt that being assigned the "bad kids" was a punishment. No, these teachers said "give us the difficult kids, but kids who have evidenced potential to do well as college students." 
It was a program that grew out of the "struggles for freedom" in the, in the late, mid - late 1960s. It was part of Johnson's phrase, the Great Society Program, where you took kids who had potential, but who were struggling with the issues of poverty, the issues of the struggle that had to do with what it was what it meant to live in a ghetto, what it meant to live in the cut. What it meant to have to fight physically, on a regular basis to maintain your dignity in a kind of tough environment.
I was a horrible student but I was smart I didn't like to read. I didn't like to do homework. I didn't like school, I don't know why. I just never did, since I was a little boy. I think it was because my mind was always somewhere else. I was always sketching, drawing pictures. If I wasn't physically drawing them I was drawing them in my head. but gradually, I outgrew that a lot of that when I became part of the program.
I've learned the hard way that the lessons of art are lessons of life. You learn it the hard way, in the sense that no one can teach it to you, it has to be something that you grow to embrace. You can't be taught to have patience with yourself, you have to learn that you have to train yourself to endure the struggle. Learning how to see. Learning to paint is learning how to see. 
We began talking about how the philosophy that underlies the art is always more important than the product. You can see into artwork. You can see where this person gave up, because that's where the work drops off. You can see in the work where she was on the right path. But, then she got stuck, she couldn't see something, there's something she couldn't see, which brought me to this business of seeing, which brought me to my second career, which is psychotherapy. ​​​​​​​
I went back to school, to get my degrees, learning to pull together all of these little disparate pieces of your life, pulling them together and seeing how they interact and how intersect. That, to me, is the art that underlies the art. That underlies the painting, the struggle to embrace what one cannot embrace, the struggle to do it anyway, I can't paint but I'm gonna learn, I'm going to make myself learn. And I'm going to learn according to the teachings of the masters. 
My father, at that juncture in his life, was for me a master, because I could not understand how he made these magical things happen. How you give him a blank piece of paper, and a pencil, and you come back 20 minutes later, there's a horse. And you can almost hear the hoofbeats of the horse. It's so real. And so intense, was my father's imagination working with the coordination of the muscles in his hand, muscles in the eye, the muscles and the hand, muscles in the head, all have to come together. And if you do that, with that kind of sensitivity and sensibility all the time, then it becomes a discipline. And you develop that discipline, through the encouragement of your art teachers, and your close students, who were struggling along these lines, you develop it out of your own. In what was me my own desire to be like my father. And I remember him coming home from work. He worked as a token, distributor. He'd come home from work, he washed up and get to painting and that's what I did. All my painters life.

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