I was born in a Ukrainian family in Detroit. I grew up in the City of Hamtramck which, along with Highland Park, is completely surrounded by the City of Detroit. Hamtramck was settled by immigrants from Eastern Europe and by 1970, 90% of the population was from Poland. Some of my fondest memories were family trips downtown to wonderful Polish bakeries and restaurants.
My grade school gym teacher was a world-class tennis coach. I was among the 10 best players she chose for the high school tennis team and I also played basketball. Now I’m a spectator and a great fan of Michigan State University sports.
I attended Wayne State University for one year and then enlisted into the Air Force. After basic training and weather school, I was a weather forecaster from 1959-1963. In the Air Force, I saw much of the world and later traveled across most of the U.S.A.
After my military service, I continued my education at MSU. I’ve enjoyed several careers, including high school teaching, photography and being a basketball coach.
I arrived at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans shortly after losing my leg from diabetic complications. After being fitted for a prosthetic leg, I learned not only to walk again, but to also enjoy a variety of activities, including painting. I appreciate the opportunities and the care afforded there.
The years that I lived out West are a source of inspiration for my artwork. I was very involved in the Native American culture and became friends with a medicine man. The religious underpinnings of everything he did deeply touched me. I try to remain true to that spirit, particularly in my sand paintings.
My first painting was a detail of a chief’s blanket. A few other paintings have been cross-overs of Native American themes with the works of Andy Worhol and Henri Matisse. In short, I paint what moves me.