Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Honestly, I would’ve never believed that the American people as a whole would elect anyone who is different; certainly not a black man. I did not have that much faith in our country’s people. In relation to the presidency, I didn’t think that we could ever transcend race - or gender for that matter.

Its funny though, I talked to someone today (who happened to be white) who was already tired of hearing that “America elected a black man”. And this person believed that most of the black population voted for Obama because he is black. What I say though, is that that reasoning is faulty because just as many whites have voted for McCain just because he is white. Sounds like that same thing to me.

Except of course, for those who “cling to their guns and religion”; those who call themselves “Christian“ yet are the first ones to lynch someone in their front yard and who are the ones most likely marry their sisters, I feel that on some level, we are starting to see past race a bit. (Please forgive my tirade. I find that I can stereotype groups just as much as anyone). Although I hold no unrealistic visions of our differences being non-existent, I give a lot of credit to a younger generation who, many times have more open minds than those who are older.

Just as the piece I created in regards to September 11th, I feel I must celebrate this momentous occasion with a new piece. I have no idea what I’ll do yet, but I’ll do something. And when I do it, I’ll post it.

I have so many feelings regarding this election… wow. I still can’t believe it. I guess what I take from this is that in this election, Obama represents every man (or woman). He fulfils the promise of what this country was aspiring toward from the beginning; allowing all of us to strive for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. YEAH BABY!

Monday, November 03, 2008

'New' Old Work

I’m applying for an artist fellowship which, if I am chosen, will take me to Rome, Italy for about a year. One of the things I had to do in preparation was to send photos of my work. There are a few of my paintings out there in the world that I never took photos of(real smart eh?), so I had to search the world over to retrieve some of them temporarily.

I’ve posted just a few of them. Just like many of my other photos, they were shot by Andrew Wilkinson.

Just a couple of notes on the paintings: Trentotex fabrics is the first painting where I was really discovering how glazes work in painting. One can’t tell from the photo, but glazes create marvelous translucency.

Bucksbrau, let me just say, was a total ‘Pain in my Keester’ ! I fought with it and fought with it. I think it turned out alright.

The Petal Head was created from a sketch I had done on a napkin. I kept that napkin for a few years because I always wanted to paint it. Once I started painting it, it took me another few years to finish it.

About Trento Flexx Gym I found this pose of the two wrestlers in an old book about gifts given by wealthy people. It was a small sculpture which was most likely made in the 20’s, judging by the hair and shorts. I used this pose in the painting and a few years later, I found that the pose was taken from a Greek statue. Funny how artists influence artists who influence other artists.

All except one of the paintings shown here are sold. The Windsurfers (5’ X 4’ acrylic on canvas with an unfinished wood frame) is the one still in my possession. Send me a note if you might be interested in it. There’s a story that goes with the Windsurfers. I painted it back in 2004 when I was quickly on my way downward; spiraling into a major depression. This is the doosy; the one that put me in the hospital for a time. Usually during these instances, I have no desire to paint, but this particular painting was a commission. I had previously met with my clients and they approved the sketches I had prepared. On the right side of the painting was to be a yellow sun shining in a blue sky. Well, in the throes of what I was going through at that time, I went off on a tangent when it came to painting that area. I painted spirals, swirls and gems and bursts of light. Needless to say, its not what they wanted. It was a bit “loud” for them. I intended to paint over the area, but was convinced not to, by some other collectors. So, I painted my clients another picture. They were much more satisfied with that one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

September 11th - Seven years later

I didn’t get the chance to do this earlier, so I’m posting it bit after the anniversary. September 11th has changed this country in innumerable ways. I don’t think anyone at the time realized how much would change. Seven years ago, like the rest of the country, I was stunned, and I felt that because we are artists, we should be making some kind of statement about it. It didn’t matter what statement - because we all were coming at it from different points of view - but it was imperative that we say something.

If you’ve learned anything about me from the art in my postings, you’ll see that my work is almost always Happy. At the time it was very important to me to portray this. At the present time however, I’ve been able to see that life - the full spectrum of life contains many facets; all of which are not happy. And for me to develop more fully as an artist, I would have to go down that road.

Back in 2001, I wasn’t really aware of this personal transition. What I did know however, was that I felt the need to try and put this horrific event into context and address it through my art. At the time, I was reading up on Andy Warhol and the upheaval he created in the art world. His Campbell’s soup cans were the basis of the simple painting. The L’s represented towers to me, so that’s what they became.

The response I’ve gotten from this piece is varied. One person (still) wants me to print it on t-shirts. One man said it was in poor taste and he walked off in a huff. One person actually jumped backward when he realized what it was. I didn’t paint it to put on T-shirts, and I didn’t paint it to offend anyone (but if they are offended, that’s their issue, not mine). I really just painted it for myself and the need to get out what was inside regarding these attacks. It certainly isn’t a “good” painting by any means, in terms of technique or anything, but it served its purpose for me. Just thought I’d post it.

Monday, July 28, 2008


There’s something to be said about collectors returning to acquire more of one’s work; They’re Great!

I’ve had the honor of doing commissioned works for both of these couples.
The first piece I created was for a couple who had seen my work at my studio. They commissioned the first painting for their kitchen. I have that posted in my 4/12/07 post -The Kellingtons. When they purchased a Jersey Shore home in Wildwood, they asked if I would create a painting for it. This one is the Kellington Cottage by the Sea. More recently, I’ve designed a logo for Robert’s company, Front Row Seat Productions; a full-service, live-room recording studio in a beautiful space. You can visit his site here. I’ll post that at a later date.

The second painting was for a couple who, like the first couple, had also seen my work at my studio. They loved the ‘Trento’ series of paintings, so they wanted one to be made in that series. They loved travel, so attempting to hearken back to the golden age of travel, I came up with The TrentOrient Europe. They’ve recently gotten in touch to discuss my creating another piece of artwork for them. You know, I don’t take this lightly. I am really honored when someone likes my work so much that they want more than one. It makes me feel good to make them feel good.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pastel Beaches

I just returned from a very relaxing vacation at the Jersey Shore. I’m not usually much for beach vacations. I’d much rather traipse around a big city with architecture, galleries and such, but I must say that I certainly see why the sand & surf are first choice of many for their “getting away” time.

While my companion frolicked among the waves, I took the opportunity to do some creating; plein air drawing in pastels. What a treat that was for me. Not only was I doing something new, but I actually found it to be a rather enjoyable experience.

I think I’ve mentioned in earlier posts about the fact that I should ’loosen up’ when I do work and not feel compelled to make everything “perfect”. This time, as with my previous watercolor experimentation, I felt free. No constraints, no expectations of perfection. I just had fun. I guess there’s something about being in a new place that makes one see the world differently. Here are the five drawings I did in just a few hours.
Drawing number four was actually done with ink and brush, then colored with pastels. I also wanted to interject something a bit unexpected, so I included the foot of a man who was sprawled out on the sand near us.
We actually spent only one full day at the beach, but it was definitely well worth it, don’t you think?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Josephine Baker?

Just found a copy of my first version of Trentident Toothpaste. Its been a very popular image for me. Everyone thinks its Josephine Baker. I’ve actually painted 6 different versions! Here are the first and the sixth. (I think I like the very first one the best).

Friday, July 04, 2008

Art All Night

For 24 hours, from 3:00 pm June 21st to 3:00 pm June 22, Trenton was the center of the art world when it held its 2nd annual Art All Night. Every kind of artist. Every kind of art. One piece per artist. Bands, activities and an all around good time. It was a great event to be part of.

Here are some photos. They were all taken by Photographer Frank Jacobs. Here I am with a friend in the first photo. (Not a great picture of me, but…) My work is the black and white piece on the left. Other shots show some other of my friends; Karey Maurice and Leon Rainbow. There’s one of the Gnome series sculptures by Andrew Wilkinson - mentioned in my previous post, and rest are of the show. To see all of Frank Jacobs’ photo’s click here. If you missed it, there will be another next year. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gnomes for New Jersey

I have returned! My latest endeavor is a project in which I’ve been happy to take part. It is a collaboration with Andrew Wilkinson, an artist, photographer and sculptor whom I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. Andrew has created ‘Gnomes for New Jersey‘. He has sculpted plaster gnomes and has gotten all his artist friends together to paint them in their own style. The original plan was to have them printed on a poster to benefit ‘Homes for New Jersey‘. I think now that plan has evolved a bit … either way the plan is to get them on tour. Here’s my contribution as well as a grouping of some of the others in the bunch.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Children's Story

Since this is a blog about many of my creative endeavors, I thought it would be nice to give y’all a chance to sample one of the children’s stories I’ve written. This one is called The Joy Pot. I got the idea for it from a phrase that my mother would say, “Don’t let the devil steal your joy”. It has obvious religious connotations, yet I thought it had value in a much broader sense as well. So with some toil and struggle (about 3 years worth trying to get the dang thing down on paper), I came up with this story. I hope you’ll like it. No illustrations as of yet, but at some point.

The Joy Pot
By Thom Reaves

Long ago, atop a high mountain, there lived an old woman who was full of joy.
She had so much joy that she turned it into a savory soup. She simmered it in a big pot which she called the Joy Pot and she shared it with anyone who wanted some. The Joy Pot never went dry, and it was warmed by a fire that never went out. From all across the land people came to have a taste of the soup in the Joy Pot and they went away filled.

There was living in the land, a wicked troll called Trouble and one day, he traveled across the mountain to upset the woman and steal away her joy.
“I would like some soup please,” he said.
“ And who are you?” asked the woman.
“I am Trouble and I have come from across the mountain!”
“It is said that Trouble comes as a great storm,” the woman replied. “You do not look like a storm to me.”
To prove his power, Trouble changed himself into a terrible storm that flashed lightning and thunder. “Tremble and be afraid,” he shouted through the raindrops.
The woman however, wasn’t afraid. She looked at him and said, “Impressive, but it is said that Trouble sometimes comes like an earthquake. If you were really Trouble‘, she said, ‘you could change yourself into an earthquake.”
To prove his power, Trouble changed himself into a mighty earthquake so that the ground shook and rumbled and the rocks rolled and smashed on the ground. “Shake and shiver,” he shouted over the tremors.
But the woman stood her ground. “You put on a good show,‘ she said, ‘but how do I really know if you are Trouble?
“I surely am Trouble,’ he said, ‘and I can come in any form.”
“If you were really Trouble,’ said the woman, ‘you could change yourself into something as simple as a chicken.”
Wanting again to prove his power, and not wanting to appear weak, Trouble changed himself into a fat chicken, running around and pecking at the ground. “Cluck, cluck,” he said.
And the woman, whose eyesight wasn’t very good, said “Come up closer that I may see you and then I will believe you are really Trouble.”
Quickly flapping his wings, Trouble jumped into the air and came to rest upon the edge of the pot. When the woman saw that he was on the edge of the pot, she quickly pushed him in and shut the lid tight.
And the pot bubbled and boiled and the joy swallowed Trouble up and made for a good chicken soup too.
And that’s how the woman stopped Trouble from stealing her joy.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More Porkroll

In the future there just may be a class taught in universities across the world called “The Porkroll in Art” and there among those classical treasures will be the Thom Reaves porkroll collection. (I guess I have delusions of grandeur).

Here’s more of the art and opening photos I promised in my last post.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Infamous Porkroll Baby

It is peculiar that I have not mentioned this previously, as it is one of my most fun ideas। It is something devised by my sometimes “off the wall” mind and something which surprisingly has had much success। It is the creation of the cute & loveable Porkroll Baby!

For those of you outside the Jersey area who don’t know what pork roll is: It is a type of sausage-like pork product made from coarsely ground pork shoulder, developed by John Taylor of Trenton, New Jersey late in the 19th century। It is called pork roll due to the "roll" or tube-like sack in which it is traditionally packaged। It is also called Taylor Ham. (Paraphrased definition from Wikipedia).

It is very delicious as many will tell you। So delicious that I thought that a character just had to be made from it। Although actual pork roll is pink, Porkroll Baby is colored dark red and wears a diaper. He is depicted in many ways: You may see him as a little angel, or a little devil, wearing an egg on his head as a hat, or even dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, visiting the circus or being tossed around with lottery balls.

I was very free with the character and there are limitless possibilities of which I am still discovering। I have had soft sculptures and hard sculptures made, coloring books, painted cutting boards and many small paintings. In 2005 I had a showing in Philadelphia called the Completely Porkroll Show at Zonk Arts Gallery. It was the most successful show I ever had in terms of pieces sold. It was a night of fun and laughter with pork roll appetizers and cheese. My friends even made me a pork roll princess to go with the baby! (It might be a bit crazy, but we have fun with it). There was some of my other art there too as you can see in the pic with me in it, but it was primarily the delectible breakfast meat.

I’ve since written Porkroll Baby’s back-story, created a supporting cast of characters and have the beginnings of another comic। I’m seeing how far I can take him।

I have posted pictures of Porkroll Baby in different versions: paintings, sculptures, drawings and photos of the pork roll vernisage. More coming soon. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Everyday People

Well, since I’m merely “on the way” to producing some new completed work, I thought I’d post more work I’d done over the summer।

I found the watercolors to be quite freeing and looser than my regular medium of acrylic। The subject matter is a little different than my regular as well.

I find that when I create people in my artwork I tend toward the idealized representations. This time, I wanted to do some down-to-earth, regular, every-day people, so I painted two older people walking down the street. I find them to be quite charming if I do say so myself. (Hey, I gotta feel good about my own work, right?). I think I need to come down-to-earth some time and represent real people. I had fun doing these.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Fashion Art

In the spirit of one of my New Year’s resolutions - to up my production of artwork, I’ve started sketching। This is the place where all the ideas come to life for the first time on paper. I love sketching ideas and I find that I have to be aware that I avoid doing actual art pieces because I get so involved in sketching. It’s my process, I guess.

Posted here are two paintings which I have posted before: Eblouissant and La Reine Abielle। My dealer, Martha Press, at the Farnsworth Gallery in Bordentown, NJ conversed with me about these two paintings. “It will be a certain type of person who will purchase these paintings”, she said. I agree with her - and they will have to have enough room on their walls as these paintings are not small. She has to find a space (most likely in a corner of the room) on her gallery walls to hang them. Because of their size and color, they would dominate any of her walls - especially because most of her featured works are small. I digress. To get to the point, we discussed a possible buyer for them. This potential client however ,would not even consider purchasing them because there is no representation of an African-American woman. I totally understand this frame of mind as I am a black man. Many of our culture want to see our own faces represented in the arts and not only the Anglo faces which have been so prevalently promoted in our American culture. (Not to get into it here, but its funny how race plays such an important and powerful role in our decisions, our actions and how we relate to others. Many want to think this is not an issue anymore in our American society. They are na├»ve). Back to the paintings - I came up with a third painting for this series and here is the sketch for it. I’m very happy with the idea. Haven’t decided when I’ll get to work on it but I will get to it. My issue is finishing it once I’ve started it.

Regardless of my personal work, I have more of a tight production schedule at my job at Wegmans। Here is one of my latest signs made for Chinese New Year (
Though for political correctness, we can’t say that because of our relationship with China at the present time. We have to say “ASIAN” new year. Political correctness in an instance such as this is the STUPIDEST thing I’ve ever heard! People who get offended at trivial stuff like this need to stay home. Its not Asia‘s New Year, its China‘s). Anyway, with the display, I think its one of my nicer signs. At least I’m being very productive in my work life.

Till next time.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008!

Although its been awhile since my last post, I just wanted to take a moment to say Happy New Year to anyone taking the time to read my blog। And in the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions that many of us seem to make at this time of year, I’m resolving to up my production of art and creative venues this year.

At the present time I have set my sites on Miami; a center where, I’ve been told, my work may do very well. (Think Britto Central). Although at first planning on up and moving, I’ve come to my senses and decided that things like this need to be done in baby steps. My job right now is to get all my ducks in order before I send them out. And that’s my resolution on this aspect of my fabulous life. I thank God that he has brought me through to another year safely and I wish you all a safe, blessed and prosperous new year.