I don’t know if everyone is like that, but all my life I’ve looked up to and tried to learn from, and tried to emulate giants that I admired, loved, or both. Probably because I was growing up to be an artist, most of these are artists, philosophers, psychologists, or other people who seemed wise. So wise, that I absorbed their sayings and deeds hungrily, and made them my own.
There are probably 200 or more of these. I think when I turned 60, I suddenly envisioned some of these greats dancing around the tree of knowledge in Paradise, celebrating with huge joy their “Apple eat.” The apple we weren’t supposed to have eaten, so that we remain stupid, naïve, beasts. God forbade. The serpent tempted and lured Eve. She tempted Adam. They ate. Contaminated. Knowledge and wisdom began to grow in them. The beasts remained beasts and could only envy the wise humans.
I painted the first version with about 12 people including God as a Lion, Adam, Eve, Steve Jobs, Janis Joplin, Dostoyevsky, Einstein, John Lennon, Mozart, Picasso…
A retired Catholic lawyer in Williamsburg, Virginia bought it after quite a skirmish with his religious, Catholic wife.
Since then, every 20 months, I painted another version, on different sized canvases, some on paper. Maybe six in all. The original characters, my favorites, were the nucleus. One version painted in December 2013 was 8’x5’ (250 cm x 150 cm) and included 39 people – Moses, Lao Tze, Jesus, Newton, Sigmund Freud, Honoré de Balzac, Freddie Mercury and many more were there.
The last Dance of Wisdom piece was painted at the end of 2021 and finished in January 2022. 6’x4’ (180 cm x 120 cm). It put huge smiles, and sometimes evoked bursts of laughter and joy in many art patrons in Florida, at the shows. Some had unrepeatable compliments about it. Some, obviously religious people, were not happy with the concept of humanity celebrating in a wild dance the disobedience of the human race to God’s first command.
A very expensive painting, I knew that one day a sophisticated and well to do enough couple or single person will buy it.
It took about 10 weeks and that couple from Connecticut appeared. It did not take them long to buy it. I helped them hang the painting in their Naples, FL home. When I finished hanging it and after I took a photo of it, I shook their hands, thanked them, and choked in tears. I tried to say “this is such a personal piece. I am so honored, happy, and moved, that you bought it and will have it here in your huge spacious home.” I couldn’t speak. Finally, I cleared my throat, dried my tears and said it. The wife, lowered her head to hide her tears, contagiously flowing after mine.
It’s sometimes very painful to part from a very deeply personal painting. This was the hardest. But the joy and pride that they will keep seeing it and deriving joy from it for many years to come, make up for the departure pains.
A New Orleans born and raised woman saw The Dance of Wisdom before it was sold. She commissioned me to paint her husband’s portrait, and then said, “paint the dance of the blues,” for New Orleans Jazz Fest. I started a new one.