Even though I now live in a mansion, I actually come from a humble background and didn't grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I grew up in a low income household in a working class family. That's why I spent my entire life working hard to succeed. I started my first job at only 14 years old, working in the hot scorching sun with a shovel in my hand, paving the back roads of Arizona.
In high school I would leave early so I could work until midnight at job in a warehouse as a forklift driver. Despite my circumstances I was taught the importance of working hard to achieve the American Dream. Eventually I graduated from Harvard, where I first studied photography at the Carpenter for the Visual Arts and took courses in European Cinema. I also spent much of my much time at Harvard's Fogg Museum, where I first discovered a passion for art before gaining recognition as an international artist.
For me being a successful artist means much more to me than selling paintings to wealthy collectors. Because of my humble beginnings in working class family, I feel obligated to use art as a means to inspire others, especially those who come from humble backgrounds and have worked hard to succeed like I have. Inspiring the disadvantaged is much more meaningful and valuable to me.
My father was an American Marine who worked hard all his life. Growing up we didn't have much in terms of money, but that American Marine had genuine love in his heart. That's why he was very influential in how I view life. Just recently when he passed away, the volunteer Marines from my small town honored my father with a 21-gun salute.
Marines placed this American flag (seen here) in my hands as my father was being lowered to his final resting place. That's why I'm proud to exhibit this American flag as a focal point along with my paintings in the American in Paris Gallery. I can't begin to express how meaningful this American flag is to me... My American in Paris collection is my personal gift for the public and my own unique way of leaving an artistic legacy for other hard working Americans.
Creating an artist museum has come with many challenges and personal failures. Having an American Marine as a father taught me that it doesn't matter that I get knocked down. What matters is that I get back up, dust myself off, and keep fighting for what I believe in! My story is one of an artist creating an art museum in his home as the fulfillment of the American Dream.