Tough Guy (Growing Up Working Class series) 2021

mixed media, 16 in x 12 in

back story: My dad was a tough guy. Born in Newark, NJ, his mom died when he was young. His dad was abusive. He only made it through the sixth grade. He drove mules on the Morris Canal. He cycled in a rollerdome in Newark. He served in the merchant marines during the war in the engine room of ships.  During prohibition he got into trouble for holding up trucks with a gun. When I was a kid, he worked as a steeplejack. He had no fear of heights. When he married my mom, he didn't tell her about his prison record. Then he worked as a superintendent in apartment buildings. My mom hated it, people were always bothering us with problems.

(artist's private collection)