I didn’t know I was an Artist until was in my late 60’s.
I have always been attracted to Art in various ways, but never had a clue that I could produce anything my self.
I worked in the Capitol in Washington, DC after high school so I could attend college at night.   I used to spend almost every
Sunday at the National Gallery of Art getting a lift looking at the Impressionists.  I even photographed an Augustus Saint- Gaudens’ sculpture in a DC cemetery; because I thought it was beautiful.  I learned 48 years later in Art History Class that it was a masterpiece.

Back home in Cleveland, I remember being overcome with emotion upon first looking at Picasso’s “La Vie”. As an elementary school student in East Cleveland, I attended the traditional Saturday morning art classes at the Art Museum and, like most kids, thought the mummies were great.  My experiences in art class in elementary school were similar to that of many others.  The Teacher said my original drawing of Moses Cleaveland wasn’t good at all and I should draw like George who sat next to me, he had made a good likeness of Mr. Cleaveland. I didn’t try to draw again for another thirty years.

The first stimulus that re-introduced me to art happened when I was about 35.  Military Service, domestic strife, trying to find a vocation, brought me to a psychologist  when I was 35. Among other things, he suggested I take a creative art course to expand my various senses.  I took a night class in painting at the high school.  I copied Impressionist paintings and my family liked them and hung them all up.  But that was the end of it.  It had been too easy and therefore I didn’t value it.  But something about the experience stuck in the back of my brain and evidently stayed there hidden away.

I have had a variety of jobs in my life, stretching from being a reporter on the old Cleveland Press to selling for Radio Shack, jewelry stores, and summer furniture stores.  I worked in Real Estate, Unionism, and even College Admissions.  I was in the Navy during WWII and the Korean War. For thirteen years I was the Executive Director of a Reform Jewish Temple.  I was the typical “Jack of all trades, Master of none”.  My last job was selling Bonds from which I retired when I was 65.  My wife was still working. So in the fall of 1990, when I was 66, I figured that I had better find something to keep me busy.

I enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College and took courses in things I had never taken the time to explore - computers, piano, and an all-day class in drawing.  The computer and piano classes were okay, but I was depressed in drawing because of the discouraging remarks about my “stick men” and drawing ability. 

After three weeks we were asked to draw a kitchen utensil.  I brought a corkscrew to class.  I drew what I thought the corkscrew looked like but I had unconsciously drawn it with a distorted and “way-out” look.  This was to become my signature style.  The teacher held it up and said, “Class, forget everything I’ve said about Sid’s work.  He has natural ability and will do better than me in the Art World.”

I was hooked.  I had no “farm to sell” but I went out and bought all kinds of art supplies and took a number of courses and private instruction, and have continued making art and being entranced by it.  I started drawing using a live model at age 66.  I must have released some long pent up emotions because as I drew I cried and then felt better afterwards.

During this time I went to the Asian exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art and saw a centuries-old, pen and ink Chinese drawing that would bring me to tears each time I saw it.  I thought that these drawings may have given Van Gogh the idea for his reed pen drawings that look very similar.

I was fortunate to find teachers who thought I was creating some unusual, original pieces.  I studies drawing for two years and then started painting.  In Art History courses I found German Expressionism particularly stimulating and I know it has influenced my work.  Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, DeKooning, Alice Neel and many others have also been influential.  My wife, Elaine, and I have traveled extensively, visiting museums and places of note in Art History, including places where Matisse and Picasso lived and worked.  During one of these trips when I showed an interest in works painted on glass, a successful professional artist directed me to places where I might see more of it.  This led to my experiments with painting on Plexiglas.

On October 10, 2006, I will be 82 years old and I will have been painting for 16 years. 

Sid Rheuban
Cleveland, Ohio