B. 1961 -
. . . on the 20th year of The Coyote
Hard to believe, but the twentieth year of The Coyote Series is upon us. Twenty years of jaw- dropping, mind-numbing victories, teeth-gnashing, heartbreaking failures, and everything in between. I might be the most alternately exalted, misunderstood, overrated and underestimated person I’ve ever met. Twenty years now and, safe to say, that The Coyotes have come a long way since their start as hopeful little drawings made in a cold, tiny, rundown apartment in Jackson, Michigan, their sole purpose to lift the spirits of their down-on-his-luck author, me. To my great surprise, The Coyote Series has become one of the most widely collected, longest lasting and successful bodies of artwork in history.
I’ve become a terrific study on the merits of chasing a dream . . . but hold on a moment. I was a dirt-poor billboard painter with an incurable disease when I began The Coyote Series and, if not for unbelievable luck coming my way, I may have remained that. But even then, when I had nothing, I was optimistic, because at last I was chasing my dream. In that experience you’ll find the essence of The Coyote Series: chase a dream, live life like you mean it, love deeply, be a fool for your passions, and come what may, good or bad, book or bust, your life will have few regrets.
As you may have noticed, the tenor of my work has changed as the years have passed. This is partly due to being happily married, partly due to my experiences, both glorious and tragic, and partly due to a better understanding of time. I want to make something lasting and impactful – something impossible to simply toss aside or throw away. Given that fact, I strive mightily to make work that has lingering resonance, not just for the persons who acquire it, but for their heirs. I have cast my gaze two hundred years down the road to dreamers I’ll never know who may, like me, hear sensible voices lovingly telling them to stay safe and not take foolish chances. I want The Coyotes to whisper in their ear wild, irresponsible notions about self-determination and destiny. I want them to grab people by the scruffs of their necks, to inspire them, to change their lives. I have seen Coyote Series paintings and sculptures do that countless times already, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. I’d like to think my work’s desirability is timeless and permanent, but know this – I don’t paint them for you. Never have, never will. I paint them for myself, because there’s always a chance no one will like a given painting or sculpture, but that’s okay ’cause if I like it, I can just keep it. It’s an assumption I’ve made twenty years running and it serves me well.
Having said that let me now add this: it’s strange, but I don’t believe The Coyotes belong to me anymore. It’s like what I imagine a mother would feel if her child grew up to be a rock star or the president or something. Like her, I can get great seats to amazing events, but it’s not really about me. It’s about the thing I created and helped raise. I understand him better than anyone, but he belongs to the world now. The Coyotes live absolutely huge lives now, going to incredible places and doing amazing things. Me, I’m just an artist in a studio – a beautiful studio. My creation, my rock star son, bought it for me. He’s sweet, but I worry whether he’s eating the right things and getting eight hours of sleep.
I have had two grand dreams in my pocket for The Coyote Series. The first was a major museum exhibition. The realization of that dream happened at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in the summer of 2005. It won’t be the last big museum exhibition either, if I can help it. The other is the telling of a Coyote story I’ve been writing for last 15 years of my life. I’m not sure yet if it is a movie or a luxurious and expansive book, but it is a story that deserves to be told. I feel it is, far and away, the best thing I’ve ever done and, as such, I intend to passionately embrace it – to be a fool for it come what may. How “Coyote” of me.
To my collectors, many of whom have become Sher’s and my closest and dearest friends, you own our hearts. Try as I might, I could never properly express my gratitude for your many leaps of faith regarding my work. You have made my life a blessed existence of beautiful and profound truths. You humble me.