I spent much of my childhood riding the Great Plains of central Illinois on horseback or in luxury automobiles from the 1970’s and 80s, passing abandoned farms and towns. This engaged me not only with the grand, magnificent machines that man builds but also with the nature of passing time, change and decay. The connection I have with the lands of North Central Illinois date back to the 1860’s when my ancestors settled these regions where we still farm today.

Many structures I paint are surrounded by gardens of a misdirected beauty, suggesting man’s infallible desire to control nature. The once luxurious ocean liners, the highly sexualized iron ore uploaders and Battersea power stations are staged in deceptively beautiful gardens or stricken on violent seas. The purity of the clouds and botanicals juxtaposed with the lonely decay of the steel structures create a potent marriage of emotions in the viewer. One has to make the decision whether to attend to the monument of human labor or to the serene beauty enveloping it, just as we all must choose between material consumption and the conservation of the natural systems that sustain us all. The “protagonists” of my paintings are structures and contraptions that function on fossil fuels: ocean liners, vintage luxury cars, power plants, and mining equipment that harken all the way back to the industrial revolution when we began burning ancient carbon.

With a precise hand, I render the steel hulls of ships or pillars and stacks of heavy industry in Gary, Indiana all powered by this ancient flora we now know as fossil fuel.

The round paintings recall porcelain collector plates, the kind issued when the great ocean liners where the benchmark of technology, human arrogance and aesthetic attention. Once filled with every luxury, yet finite in resources these ships become a tender metaphor for the earth and her fragility.