Movin’ On

Born July 6, 1930 — San Diego, California, at 2651 Logan Avenue in Logan Heights (now called Barrio Logan.) My sun sign is Cancer; I have Capricorn rising.

My first memory is when I was 3 years old, living in Nanakuli Beach, Hawaii,  pouring light green paint into a toilet next door; adding black paint, flushing it, and watching it mix with the green, swirling down the drain, and then I ran.

 I was basically raised on the mainland in the USA. In California, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Connecticut, Key West, Florida. Raised by relatives and strangers.  Every year or so I would be “Movin’ on.” 

I graduated from Hoover High School, in San Diego, Class of ‘49.  The next day I joined the Navy for one hitch.  I’m now considered a Korean War Veteran, but I was never in Korea. I served my time aboard the USS Norton Sound, as a storekeeper striker. After the Navy, I joined the SD Police Department for a few years before realizing that wasn’t where I was supposed to be — so I Moved on.

In 1961, I started “The Blue Guitar” music shop in San Diego with two friends and stayed with that for 12 years. The Blue Guitar had a life span of 59 years, with several locations, several different owners, and closed for good around 2021. R.I.P. Many stories and friendships – of artists who came through its doors. Some became famous.

The band I was part of – ‘The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers’  was the first Bluegrass band in San Diego. The original 5 members were “True Squirrels.” All the rest were “Associates.” Chris Hillman played the mandolin – moved on to LA and founded “The Byrds,” “ Flying Burritos,” “Desert Rose Band.” Larry Murray fronted The Squirrels and was my partner in the Blue Guitar. Larry moved on to LA and became a television comedy script writer for the Smothers’ Brothers Comedy Hour and founded a folk rock band “Hearts and Flowers.” Later on Larry became a comedy writer for Glen Campbell and then for Johnny Cash. Kenny Wertz played banjo and sang harmony for the Squirrels. He moved on to LA and joined  “Flying Burritos” and later Kenny played rhythm guitar and sang Tenor for “The Country Gazette.”  Gary Carr was lead singer for the Squirrels. Gary had an authentic country voice and played flat pick guitar. Tragically he died at age 40 from alcoholism. R.I.P., Gary. In the Squirrels, I played the bass and was the founding member. I booked the gigs, collected the pay, and made the business flow. Some of the “Associates” included; Bernie Leadon, founding member of  “The Eagles,” Mason Williams, Ricky Araiza, Herb Pederson, Tommy Pressley, Doug Jeffords.


First photo taken of the original Scottsville Squirrel Barkers in 1961, behind the Blue Guitar.

Left to right: Gary Carr, Ed Douglas, Larry Murray, Kenny Wertz.

Believe it or not, we are still friends.

In the late ‘70’s, I got rid of almost everything I owned, and with a lump of money, I bought a one-way ticket to London, England, and spent about a year wandering all over Europe.  Movin’ on from one country to another. I spent a lot of time in Barcelona, Spain, and became fascinated by the tile works of Antoni Gaudi.

When I turned 80 in 2010, I told my friends, “I’ve only ever been a mediocre musician; with the time I have left, I want to do what I do best.”  That is when I started making Tile Art Impressions. I make Impressions using ceramic tiles of things I’ve seen and liked in my travels, inspirations taken from the works of other artists I admire, and whatever strikes my fancy. I create portraits, panels, and logos from cutting and shaping ceramic tiles.

My concept is a little different from other Tile artists— I don’t do mosaics; I don’t do sculptural pieces. I cut ceramic tiles into individual pieces with my tile saw. Then I assemble them like puzzle pieces into images of portrait size. Sometimes I frame them for display. There are as many as 100-200 separate tiles in one motif.

Each portrait is one of a kind.  No computers; All pieces are cut and smoothed by hand. When I finish with one impression, I move on to the next one….