John is Puerto Rican. He was born at 6:00 am on Friday, Novermber the 7th 1958, at
Like all Puerto Ricans, John is a mix of three distinct racial groups: European, Native American, and African. According to
John's younger brother is
John learned and practiced painting using
When painting, John takes a lot of breaks, paints while listening to recorded books or romantic music, snacks constantly, and is addicted to coffee (mountain-grown Puerto Rican). He always buys the best quality materials and equipment. His favourite art supplier is Utrecht (www.utrechtart.com). He has commented that the single largest expense in large mural projects is not the paint, but the brushes. Most people do not realize that wall surfaces for murals have a rough finish that eats away brush bristles in no time. For this reason John does most of a mural's underpainting with inexpensive white Chinese bristle chip brushes (sold for less than a couple of dollars per brush in most large hardware stores).
He was introduced to "oils" (oil-base artists' paints) at the
Like many artists, John also has some eccentric habits. The most obvious one is that he paints mainly at night. The only time he paints during daylight is when he works on exterior murals. He paints with either hand, even though he is general right handed. Being an artist, he also shares common traits with other artists. But, the one thing John does not share is any love for the act of painting. For him its just a task or a chore that needs to be done. He laments his habit of procrastinating before the commencement of a new commission due to this fact. And before he can get started with any large project, John always follows the following ritual: he cleans his whole house spotless.
John's developed a love of art by admiring the works of Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo. He became equally intrigued by the lives of other great artists of the time and loved reading and learning from their biographies. These readings introduced him to other artist that became his role models in painting. These are
Like many artists, John hates math, geometry being the only exception because mastering perspective requires it. But he can do math well enough and his first diploma was in bookeeping in a time well before computers. For decades it was first thought that he was partially dyslexic but this assessment was later changed to include a form of dyscalculia, which is a specific learning disability in math that in John's case switches numbers around when writing figures or dialing phone numbers.
Also, during specific circumstances, he also has trouble distinguishing between right and left. Considering that he is able to perform really intricate mental tasks in the course of his career (in addition to being a voracious reader with a curious mind always eager for more learning) some doctors have speculated that in John's case his mind's circuitry works faster than his motor-skills and that this "lag" produces a disconnect or a "mental blink" for a fraction of a second. This might help explain why during public engagements John has for an instant forgotten his name during introductions!
John laments that he can not afford his taste and that his ambitions greatly exceed his resources. While his lifestyle is simple, his tastes are eclectic but selective. His personal preferences reflect scholarly inclinations with very limited interest in material luxuries. He cares little for things such as jewelry, cars, sports or the latest fashions. But he does favour travel, good restaurants, interesting conversation, and dressing up when the role requires it. He does have good table manners and can order food in four languages (Spanish, English, French, and Italian). He only curses in English!
John is hyperactive and likes to work simultaneously on several tasks. As a rule, he prefers to perform a task for no more than four hours. He may work on a canvas, switch to a computer game, then pick up a book, next a pen for some creative writing, and finally, back to get back to painting. However, he tries to keep all these activities related to the subject he may be working at the time.
His sleeping patterns are erratic; he normally sleeps when he wants to sleep. Sometimes four hours is enough, while sleeping for twenty hours or so happens on ocassion. This drove his parents crazy, especially because he works mostly during the night. His father used to turn off the electrical power to John's room in order to deprive him of light (and hopefully get him to go to sleep). But this practice did not work as John would resort to moonlight and mirrors for illumination.
John has very little tolerance for activities that he considers irrelevant, but he does become a master of those that keep his interest. In fact, he is a master of many skills and subjects. When a particular problem truly engages his attention, he can focus his concentration and energies for long periods of time, sometimes working for over twenty-four hours non-stop. Once a challenge has been mastered, he looses interest and finds something else to do. He hates to repeat anything he perceives as dull. It goes without saying that John is not a typical "nine-to-five" kind of guy. But he gets things done and done well -his way. To meet his self-imposed standards, he works with admirable intensity, discipline, and dedication.
His idea of a perfect vacation is going native in some foreign country and getting to know the locals. A couple of weeks of relaxation in a tropical heaven makes him want to shoot himself. After all, he grew up in paradise, but his restless spirit craves action. John works in a social atmosphere, but prefers solitude and does not frequent the social scene. Unless he is there for a purpose, crowds make him uneasy. He does have a flair for doing things his way (and getting into trouble) and for keeping his personal affairs private, particularly his romantic life. He has been pleasantly surprised by the fact that, since his marraige to
After his divorce from his then wife Maria Espendez in 1992, John's children -
John's hobbies include traveling, stage fighting, computer strategy games, reading (historical books & biographies are favoured) fantasy and foreign films. He also likes to sing (Spanish gospel hymns) and greatly enjoys listening to a selective mix of artists too numerous to count. But the
His favorite singers are
Like everyone else, John has a number of favorites bands. Among these are
When it comes to movie stars he favours Hollywood legends like
He particularly enjoys reading anything by
John's television habits have been greatly reduced since the computer became the entertainment king. His limited television fare consist of programs on Public television (PBS) such as documentaries and the
While he registered as Republican during the Carter years, his voting record has never been along any party lines for which he has never felt any affiliation. When once asked about why he didn't stick to party choices, he replied: "Because I have a mind; I can think for myself." He feels that Puerto Ricans have been screwed by every political party so his loyalty is based on individual record regardless of background. I goes unnoticed by most of his fans that John spend time in Washington DC as an intern with
Even more revealing is that John's artistic specialty of study and interest is propaganda art and in his younger days he volunteered in several local political campaigns. His master's essay: 'American Propaganda: Controlling Public Opinion in Puerto Rico' one of the most read pages in this website. So in general, John has a better understanding of politics and government than most artists or the general public, and he uses that knowledge in the crafting of his social narrative artworks, such as his Cleveland mural:"It's up to us."
John is an athiest. He grew up in a Pentecostal community. There are over 15 pastors in one side of his family (the other side is mostly heathen). He studied for two years in a biblical seminary, and then broadened his religious knowledge in college. His interest in beliefs and religion led him to study all the major religions as well as many minor branches of belief. He also counts as friends many who follow various religious practices. During his travels he has taken every first hand opportunity to broaden his knowledge and understanding. But it was his search of knowledge and answers as well as his inquisitive mind in areas such as natural science, history and archeology that lead him to the evolving revelation of his conclusion. John believes that his disbelief makes him a more objective artist. As to the religious beliefs of others, he follows a quote from an Indonesian sage: "If a person worships a rock and it makes that person a better human being, than his belief is worthy of my respect."
Three things John avoids are weddings, hospitals and funerals. He has already attended too many. Least favorite things: rap (is it music or choral poetry?), attraction park rides (motion sickness), sailing (he can't swim), flavoured coffees (he likes coffee to taste like coffee), and a room full of kids. Favourite food: Caribbean cuisine (but he eats anything except for hot-spicy foods). Favourite colour: Yellow. Taste in women: intelligent ones. His definition of Viagra: Puerto Rican hormones. Childhood crush:
First impressions of him seem always to be in the extreme; you either love him or hate him. Those he comes into contact through his work find him to be a fascinating person. His angular looks and confident manner make him stand out in any crowd -and he does look younger than he really is. He can speak well about a myriad of subjects with his frankness of opinion that both delight and anguish his listeners. Acquaintances call him anything from a genius to a ruthless bastard - it depends on what side of the fence they stand. His friends call him a friend for life - dependable, caring and protective through times both good and bad. However, part of his mysterious appeal seems to emanate from certain inconsistencies about him which suggest secrets that few have been privy to.
Things that scare him: insects, water deeper than four feet, people who have no business owning a firearm, and marriage. He has an aversion for pessimistic attitudes, any form of fanaticism, and people's lack of taste. He also hates his looks but learned to compensate for his deficiencies. His most treasured words of wisdom are, from his father: "if your boss tells you to lift a building, don't say you can't. Go grab it by a corner and try your best to do it."; From his mother: "no one is so poor as not to have water to bathe and wash their clothes, or thread and needle to mend them."; From a country preacher: "kiss and hug your children everyday as if it were the last time you would see them".