Misspent Youth

John Rackham, born in Helena Montana (I come from Montana I wear a bandana, my spurs are of silver, my pony is gray. State song, easily the worst of 50: Montana, Montana…. yadda, yadda…. of all the states from east to west you’re easily the best. Ach! the horrible things they inflict on you when you’re only six years old.) 

oops, I was going to do a bio, then I had a bout of my version of Tourette’s syndrome: free associational drivel: A horrible compulsion. But I digress. 

I can’t go on. I must go on. I will go on. Oh, bugger. I give up for now, but I’m sending this anyway, since I already spent the time poking it out. Ah well! ‘ad aspera per aspera’, or something like that.

Turning down a full scholarship to the University of Chicago, I attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, belatedly receiving a degree in Political Science in 1975. My Senior thesis: “Coitus Interuptus…. Abstractions from Works in Process, A Study of Niccolo Machiavelli.” After a brief stint in Washington, DC, and realizing that my so-called skills could only be put to bad purposes (things being what they were and now are in those hollowed precincts) I pulled out, in mid-stream, as it were, and went down the path, Yojimbo-like, that I have been following for the past thirty years. 

I took classes from the brilliant artists, craftmen, and technicians (artist, craftsman, technician described each man I worked with in those days: there is no dishonor in knowing how to do things, depite the current disparagement of craft, skill, the ability to draw, by the cogni skantia of the art world). I learned bronze casting, intaglio printmaking, real stone lithography, and how to see and draw. This all from a much disparaged place these days, a public university: Portland State University. Sadly to say, so far as I know, they have now none of the programs I found so useful and instructive. 

In 1980 I began teaching a class in bronze casting and sculpture at The Sculpture Center School in NYC. Over the next twelve years I continued to teach there while operating first out of a studio on Warren Street near the former World Trade Center and then in Williamsburg, Brooklyn hard up against The Williamsburg Bridge, mean streets then and probably now, but as the Beastie Boys said “Brooklyn Rocks the Best.” 

My work has appeared in the Sculpture Center Gallery in shows curated by Marion Griffiths, The Dintenfass Gallery, Ground Zero, The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, of which I was a board member for a brief stint. 

I have had a number of commissions, the most noteworthy being The Astaire Awards, for which I received the commission in 1982. I designed and executed the awards as original, limited edition sculptures in bronze in a five week period in May/June of that year. They continue to be presented as I created them to this day, much to my surprise and pleasure. 

Since moving to Portland, Oregon in the early 90’s I have immersed myself in the task of both conserving and curating the extensive bicycle seat collection of the reclusive and eccentric billionaire, John Bearsfort Tipton. I was also a principal in an unsuccessful and basically misguided attempt at the leveraged buy-out of the shrunken head collection of the comic genius cum mathematician (and songwriter) Tom Lehrer. 

I have other interests, one might say compulsions: my ministry for example, but that is not art, or is it?