I gave this talk at the Albuquerque Museum.

It was supposed to be short.

It can be read in one sitting....

or one standing ....with the dryest mouth imaginable.



Chapter one: life


I am 7 years old.

I am Thomas Alva Edison.

His middle name starts with “A”

My middle name starts with “A”

His last name starts with “E D”

My first name starts with “E D”

I am deaf ….he is deaf.

His first name Thomas…

Well… there’s not much I can do with that….

Maybe it got screwed up in the reincarnation process or something.

At any rate when you are 7 years old and you figure out who you are, what difference does it make?

I’m Thomas Alva Edison and all I have to do now is invent some stuff…. a light bulb or something.


Actually over the years I have been quite a few people. (That reincarnation thing was going full blast when I was born…)

I have noticed that rarely is anyone the reincarnation of a janitor or an ax murderer.

As For me, I have always been someone pretty important:  Leonardo Da Vinci, Francisco Goya, maybe Carl Jung.

(We have all bedded down together now and its mighty cozy) ……

But my first memory of a genuine reincarnation was Tom Edison

And at 7 years old He was all I needed to be.

Edison was easy. He was a broad tree of a man… with roots and branches and plenty of room to climb.

He invented stuff. I invented stuff.

He was a mechanical genius.

I am a mechanical genius.


In time I will invent everything I can think of…

Put stuff together…discover something new.

That IS what I Want To Do!

It all makes perfect sense …besides I can see the stuff as plain as day when I shut my eyes.

It’s all you really need…

The rest of the world goes by and there you are in whatever corner you can muster, thinking a bit, and getting the stuff to all go together.


The adults that hung around back then were not sure what to do with me.

After a while they threw up their hands and declared “Art !“

Ed will be placed in the “Art” category.

“Art” did seem to mesh pretty well with the young Edison that had popped out

and realistically can anyone see a big difference between a painting and a light bulb?


It was the 1950s and I was in Ft Worth Texas. They had what we called the Children's Museum.

I went there a lot.

When I was in the 3rd grade I won a prize for art in the Public school system and received art lessons for 2 years at the museum...

My teacher was a vicious woman named Mrs. Sylvestry.

I actually learned a lot.

I could really draw back then...much, much better than I can now.


In my family I was somewhat lauded for my artistic abilities.

My drawings were hauled out and shown to the relatives…

However my father and mother worried about practicality and money…. they thought I was better suited to be a plumber or an electrician.

“You can always do your art in your spare time”

They said.

I got even with my parents. I learned to do nothing truly useful.


My brother was a genius

(Or so I was told...

By him)

He was often put on display as a young, soon to be famous Van Cliburn type....

He played Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, all that junk and I was awakened every morning for most of my early life with an overture or a sonata....

Stuff like that.

I always woke up angry


My sister’s job I think was to smile and be nice.

I was not too good at that myself.

So I suppose “Art” helped me secure a place in the family


I stayed away from art after elementary school and became a motorcycle hoodlum.

Gradually I forgot about Edison


Years would pass… then I found myself hauling art and a motorcycle through New Jersey.

I suddenly saw a sign that said

“Edison New Jersey ...Menlo Park. “

I thought,

“ That sounds like something the reincarnation of Thomas Alva Edison should see”

And off I went in the big rental truck...

I got the truck stuck under a bridge,

in rush hour traffic.

It didn't look too bad till the tow truck driver yanked it out and scraped the top half of the truck off...

I did not see Edison New Jersey or Menlo Park


Art had subsided through adolescence to be replaced by shop classes, motorcycles and girls.

But when I went to college I like the others

had no idea what to do with myself....

so I took art classes again.

One thing lead to another ...I never quit


I have never felt compelled to limit myself much in this thing called the creative process...

Whatever emerges is often as surprising to me as to anyone else.


I am a chaser of tangents and ephemera:

The stuff that the wind so often blows about.


Carl Jung and I have learned to turn our faces from the wind, to close our eyes and hunt in the thickets.

There we find small threads left by tangents that have blown by.

With luck a tangent thread leads on

and we may get a glimpse from where it comes or where it’s going ….

I never know which.


We chase them as far down the trail as I can go…

And while I may be able to describe them somewhat. I wont.

Ephemera don’t like it.


This sculpture “Child Flight “ comes from a recent body of work.

The thing that struck me about this body of work is how much of it is about wheels, machinery and the like.

Once Again I have regressed

to my Thomas Alva Edison phase.


Machines have surfaced in my work before...

Out in my field there is a piece titled

"Invention for Dreaming" which I put together almost 30 years ago.

It is currently in bad shape after I accidentally ran over it with my forklift.

Some dreams and aspirations are like that:

Squashed by reality.

And along the way there have been other bits of machinery tangled into this mix that I call my work.


I have a few things to say about my childhood love affair with machinery:

When I was 12, I would ask to wander the aisles of a hardware store "just to look"

I still like hardware stores but I rarely go to just look


A few years later I fell in love with motorcycles …I fell hard in love . My mother would drive me to look at Hondas through the storefront window.

That was the beginning of something that still persists today.

It was also some how tied in with a strange and compelling attraction to women.

Because of time restraints I will have to delve into that later


However, I was once given a chemistry set for Christmas

(My parents were intent on my betterment from the beginning)

And I can tell you from experience that testosterone mixed with gasoline creates a dangerous chemical reaction.


Another memory stirred up by this sculpture was when I was younger 5 or 6 maybe:

The relatives were sitting around the table. Perhaps both Uncle Georges were there.

One Uncle George lived in Midland Texas

He had been in the Air Force during the war and had flown airplanes.

The other Uncle George lived in Dallas and was also involved in aviation.

He was the editor and founder of Flight Magazine.


He knew everyone in the aviation world and always seemed larger than life.

Talk of airplanes drifted in and out of the adult conversation,. as did the stock market and other impossible things.

Suddenly I jumped up from the table and ran to the back yard.

" I want to build an airplane! " I thought.

A vision of flying had gotten a firm hold on me...

I picked up a handsaw.

I was not concerned with anything except how to move the large sheet of plywood that I found in the garage.

I wanted to start sawing immediately and build the plane.

I was obsessed.


The materials were heavy. WAY too heavy.

I was forced to get my mother to help me move the plywood.

She came out, listened to what I wanted to do and somehow managed to put out the fire that was raging in my mind or at least tame it for a while.

That vision of an airplane never really died… but it did lay dormant for a good long time.

Years went by and the world waited….

waited for Thomas Edison and I to get back to building more stuff … some stuff that could fly.

To accomplish it I might have to get a PHD….

Or at least get big enough to move the plywood.


In the meantime however, Carl Jung and I have taken up flying on our own.

We go out at night after we shut our eyes.

Not much instruction has been required…

And I never see machinery lying about



are readily available to jump over….

And once you clear the trees the rest is easy.

I often land on rooftops and look down.

Why don’t those people on the ground join Carl and me? I think.


So at last I have built something from back then

Something that will fly

Perhaps I will make a bunch of them and sell them cheap…

but leave the instructions out.

And the instructions will be damned expensive.


BUT… maybe , and maybe I’m overly optimistic here….

Maybe we already have all we need

In time perhaps, we will all learn to shut our eyes and get where we need to go.


The wind, after all is blowing all day and night

you can almost leave on time if you can find it.

Just open your eyes once they are shut

The wind will blow all the long night long…

Ive seen it blow a night clear into day

But if you sleep you’ll miss it

It will bring you right along


Just open your eyes once they are shut

And gather up all the transitory that you find

get as firm a grip on it as you possibly can…

Lift your foot, the one you tied down way back when….

Now the other

and tell the wind the stories you have forgotten to tell

The wind will do the rest