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Oil Painting by Rafael Francisco Salas - 'Porch, Version 2'

My senior year of college, I took a painting class for beginners. That was also the year that Raphael Salas moved back from New York City to teach in Wisconsin, at my college. Having been a professional artist and taken a lot more art classes than the average human, I think he got a little caught up with the mental part of art. In any case, I did not learn how to paint in his class, because he was low on technique and high on the psychology of choosing a subject that year, but we did become friends. He still lives and works in rural Wisconsin, exhibits frequently in Milwaukee, and reviews other art openings in a print publication.

It's interesting to see people's work change over time. This kind of still life is part of his earlier works, where he does portraiture, still life, and animals. After that, he got into this optical illusion thing where he would paint a serious landscape or scene, and then obliterate part of it with bubbles. Now, he's working on something that he feels is "really" what he likes to do, which is to create little sculptures of surrealist landscapes created from found objects, and then draw those landscapes as the final product. His new work is weird (good), but totally different from his paintings.

The last summer before I left college (after graduation), I was working on campus at the advancement office digitizing old records about rich people they could ask for money, and he and another adjunct, Lee Shippey, paid me to model for them as an oil portraiture practice. Later, I went back to Wisconsin and bought both of their paintings for my portrait project. The weekend I took them home was the Class of '75 reunion, so there was food and stuff, and we spent some time eating and chatting. The best part was being mistaken for a member of the Class of '75.....REALLY NOW.