Palenque From the Temple of the Inscriptions, looking toward the Palace. Self Portrait by Tony Paterson.

Connections: Sabbatical 1998 • Introduction

Nearly 45 years ago, when I was a student in my second year of high school, I hitchhiked to Mexico, taking the train at Monterey for the remainder of the trip to Guadalajara. I had enrolled in a summer program in mural painting, sculpture, and drawing. This was the result of seeing Orozco's mural at Dartmouth College many years earlier. I thought I wanted to become a Mexican muralist. The only cities I visited were those near Guadalajara - Mexico City, Taxco, Cuernavaca, etc. My experiencing the Pre- Colombian, Colonial culture, in addition to the Mexican painters, profoundly affected me. I realized that I was a product of this continent and not just that of my European heritage. My sculpture since then has been affected by these influences, especially by the sculpture and architecture of the Pre- Colombian Native Americans.

Because I was young and without transportation, I did not visit the rest of Mexico at that time.

My training before my trip to Mexico was at the Albany Institute of History and Art, starting at about eight years of age. I would attend the sessions every summer and after class take home armloads of art books from the library across the street. It seemed as though no one else ever checked them out so the librarian would permit me to keep them for long periods of time. I took classes at Russell Sage College beginning with high school and before I went to Mexico I hitchhiked to Gloucester Massachusetts to study with Umberto Romano. Studying with Mr. Romano was through the suggestion of my teacher at Russell Sage College. I have a sneaking suspicion she was impressed by more than his painting. Mr. Romano gave me a room in his outside classroom studio and I would lay out his paints in a specific order on a large pallet cart. He taught me how to paint using egg tempera. Prof. Daniel Mendelowtz, I do not think, knew of my previous exposure to the visual arts.

A year after my return from Mexico, the death of my father caused me to volunteer for the draft and I was sent to Korea for a two-year tour of duty. I don’t think my experiences in both Korea and Japan had any significant effect on my artistic development other then to make me sensitive to the wonderful brush drawings and paintings that I became familiar with during my stay there. I also took a deep interest in photography and began to experiment with composition and the workings of the 35mm camera.

After returning from the service I was determined more then ever before to become a creative visual artist. Until I entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, I did not know that it would be sculpture that I would follow as career. My contact with the teachers there at that time, especially Harold Tovish had a profound influence on me. As I mentioned before, other advanced students played a part as well. In my class was Jonathan Shahn, who unlike his father, choose to become a sculptor. He was extremely intelligent and knowledgeable regarding all aspects of art. Other Artists and people in the arts I had contact with at that time were Mimi Gross, Miss. Galder, and Faye Dunaway, to name a few.

One other interesting coincidence was my being aware of Marianna Pineda's works (Tovish's wife) at an early age. I made a trip to New York. City from Albany my hometown, to see among other things, a major sculpture exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If I remember correctly, Jacques Lipchitz was one of the jurors. The small study for the "Sleep Walker" was in the exhibit and I remembered it vividly until I saw Marianna’s work "Prelude" when I entered the Museum School. She also had a strong influence on my work.