Artist Statement

From Clarence Schmidt's House of Mirrors in Woodstock, NY. Photo by ArtIsArt

From Clarence Schmidt’s House of Mirrors in Woodstock, NY. Photo by ArtIsArt

I am 75 years old. I clearly remember the day I first saw Clarence Schmidt’s rambling sculpture environment on a beautiful and breezy June day. I thought to myself, What is this? I had no categories, no frame of reference for it. There I stood, a third-year art student and I didn’t know that I was looking at art. That was 1959.

A lot has changed in the art world, and a lot has changed in the real world. We now have a category for Clarence: vernacular artist. In 1970, after not seeing Clarence for five years, I visited Woodstock, New York where he lived and worked. His first words to me were, “I hear you are copying me in Philadelphia.”

It is true to a certain extent; I have been copying Clarence my whole career, trying to make a total encyclopedic vision that has no parameters and no end. My work is marked by events and is a mirror of the mind that is building and falling apart, having a logic but close to chaos, refusing to stay still for the camera, and giving one a sense of heaven and hell simultaneously.

It is an impossible place, but strangely you can visit it and smile at that which you knew existed somewhere. Now you know that place is in Philadelphia, and you knew it all along, didn’t you?