About the Artist


In the movie “Gods and Monsters” Sir Ian McKellen talks of the main character’s childhood and how different he was relative to the other men in his town. He recallsthis through an analogy of “growing up as a gazelle in a region of the country that only had use for mules...”

As a young boy, I think an outside observer would have seen much more gazelle than mule in me. I was creative, introverted, and had an appreciation for the more aesthetic things in life. I grew up in Michigan – outside of Detroit. This area of the Midwest was known for automobiles, hunting, and factories, and the men typically reflected the corresponding nature. Sexual ambiguity, even to the slightest degree, was completely rejected. I learned this the hard way.

In my childhood years I found a love for painting, and had completed roughly 30 canvases, three of which were exhibited in my home town’s city hall by the time I was 14. But with that recognition came the scorn of the other boys in my school – I became a target of ridicule, and was beaten up one afternoon after classes were let out. They called me the “artistic fag.” I saw that my interests in art – painting in particular – had potentially revealed my deepest secret. Almost immediately I completely abandoned every creative interest, and went back off the playing field of life to further learn about how I was supposed to be.

The years that followed were a period of deep introspection, and a willingness on my part to hide out from people by staying aloof, while at the same time I hnd become an ardent observer of men who were more acceptable. I wanted to learn how to act – how to behave in a manner that would not betray what I felt inside. I also tried in vein to find answers about my condition, and how to cure it. It was a very unhappy period of life for me – trying very hard to hide any possible outward signs of my feelings that might give others a clue that I was gay. Eventually, it became too much for me, and so I tried to confide in the people who I knew loved me unconditionally – or so I thought.

I decided to tell my parents about myself, and the resultant period was very painful, not just for me, but for my parents, my siblings, and aunts and uncles as well. When I told them I thought I might be gay, they did not understand what that meant. I had to explain to them the notion that I was attracted to men. It was a disaster that resulted in me seeing a variety of psychiatrists, an endocrinologist, our family doctor, and a priest. I was also taken by my brother to a prostitute, and I tried dating the neighbor’s niece, who saw my condition as a challenge. At one point in a heated exchange, my mother told me to change my name and move out of our home.

By the time I was 22, I decided I needed to move away to Phoenix Arizona, where I could clear my head of all of it, set the drama aside, and perhaps attend college classes at Arizona State University. It was a move that altered my life in many ways. Almost immediately I became an honors student. I moved in with my sister who was going through a divorce at the time. She was aware of my sexuality, and she did not have a problem with it.

Not soon after I moved to Arizona, I met a young medical student from Tucson Arizona. He was in Phoenix taking a medical rotation class, and he seemed to be extremely interested in me. I had discovered through friends that he was very popular, and for this reason, I kept him at arm’s length, which intensified his interest in me. Eventually, I felt comfortable and let my own guard down, and when I finished at ASU, I moved to Tucson to be with him as he finished his medical studies. He had two years left, and so I used that time period to pursue a second degree – one in Geosciences at U of A.




Scott was an incredibly smart, extroverted man, and he seemed to balance the shy, introverted part of me. After we finished at U of A, Scott and I moved to Los Angeles, California, and I spent the next two years obtaining a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. Scott had been assigned to work at Kaiser West Los Angeles hospital through a match program that was common with medical students.

While at USC, I served as President of the Dean’s Advisory Board, Administrative Chairman of the University Program Board, and was the recipient of the Albert T. Quan Outstanding Graduate Student Award. After graduating from USC, I started my own business, Information Design Resources, which I owned and operated for over 10 years., from 1986 to 1995.

That same period of time was both magical and tragic for us. Scott hired into a private medical practice and soon began seeing patients who had a frightening new disease, AIDS. His intellect and willingness to continue studying soon caused Scott to become a major figure in the battle against AIDS. But it was his political interests that pulled both he and I into a level of activism and fundraising that eventually led to us entertaining governors, senators, congressmen, and eventually all of the major candidates for president from the Democratic party into our home. It culminated in an extraordinary victory party at our home with approximately 200 friends, family, and the reporter Maria Shriver and her staff recording the historic victory for the gay and lesbian community.

Our lives were both exciting, and filled with a sense of tremendous sadness. During the same period in time we were attending funeral services on average once a month. These were not distant acquaintances, but rather close friends who we would socialize with, play cards with on the weekend, and travel with. I lost all of my friends from Michigan, including my best friend Carl Rippberger – an incredibly kind, and smart man who was a mentor for me earlier in my life.

At times, we had two and three friends in the hospital at one time. We had a close friend Ric Davis stay with us as he recovered from a collaped lung, since he was not close to his own family. Eventually, I could not hold up through the demands of the political side where it was necessary to put on an air of confidence and strength, while at the same time processing the deaths of so many young men, who in their final hours seemed to be searching for some form of meaning to life.

To get through, I made the terrible mistake of turning to sedatives and alcohol. By 1993, after having witnessed over 30 friends die from the disease AIDS, I found myself in deep depression and caught in a web of alcoholism and drug addiction to avoid the realities around me. Scott wanted me to find an in-patient program, but I chose instead to follow a recovery path with AA. As part of my recovery, I needed to unwind my past, and in the process found that I had a desperate need to go back to my first love - art.

Having a deep seated desire to paint was one thing, but changing course at this point in life from owning a business and finding validation from all of the external stuff to turning inward, and trying to go back to a childhood dream was a completely different animal. It was no small venture – I had to make a very hard choice between who I was and what I had achieved to something completely foreign – not only to me, but to Scott, my family, and all of our friends. But there was something inside of me that would not let me turn back, and so I began the process of moving away from the right side of the brain’s “MBA and business Alex” to the left side of the brain’s “starving artist Alex.” When I refer to the starving artist, I am not speaking in terms of food, but rather, the part of me that was starving for something that had meaning, and that would allow for me to express what I needed to express through art.




The transition was not immediate. But at the direction of my AA sponsor and close friend Larry Sprenger, I made it a point to do something toward art every day, for a minimum of one hour. Over a period of several months, that one hour grew to 4 and 5 hours each day. And then I found a point where I could finally complete the work I had committed to with my clients, and I broke entirely free of business related activities, and focused entirely on painting. All of my days would become about art without distractions – at least for a period of time.

In late 1994 I decided to hire a classical painting tutor, and a classical drawing tutor. Both came to where I had set up a studio and they worked with me one day a week for 4-5 hours each. They continued to share their knowledge for the entire year – helping me to understand the rudimentary skills needed for creating art. My classical drawing tutor was Margaret Caldwell, and my classical painting tutor was Deny Ponty.

What followed was a very brief period of what was perhaps the most joyous time in life for me, other than the two years I spent in Tucson Arizona just after meeting Scott. I woke early each day, and began my work with excitement, intrigue, and dedication. I felt like a scientist within my own laboratory, being able to research the methods of other artists, and being able to try their color pallets out with my own work.

That period, from late 1995 to mid-1999 was all too brief. In July, 1999, my partner Scott was diagnosed with colon cancer. The years that followed were extremely difficult, and I tried to express some of the emotions through my paintings. Scott’s condition worsened over the subsequent eight year period, and I found less and less time to paint as I devoted more time to caring for him. During that same period I broke out with shingles and panic attacks from the stress. Three discs in my lower back gave out, and ruptured. In July, 2006 I had a heart attack. And finally, on November 8, 2007, my world turned completely black and desperately cold. Scott passed away next to me, holding my arm. From that point I began to feel a level of despair I had never even understood could exist I tried to busy myself by selling our home, and putting everything into storage. I then thought perhaps if I found a small home that needed a lot of work that perhaps I could keep myself active and busy. It worked for a while, but by late 2007 I began to have open gaps of quiet time, and I started down a deep rabbit hole of depression.

Now, in mid 2009, I have been pulling myself back out, and trying to get myself back into painting. There is so much that is inside of me that seems to have a hold on me, but every day I consciously try to do what I can to regain my life as an artist. I Still live in Los Angeles, not far from where Scott and I lived together, but I travel almost every month to Arizona to spend time with my family, and to be near Scott, who is buried in Scottsdale. Part of the renovation work on the home I am currently living in included tearing down an old garage. In its place I had a slightly larger garage built, but we added skylights to the roof, and we put drywall on the inside. It is set up as an art studio, and I recently moved all of my art supplies and paintings into the space. I’ve begun work on a double portrait of two close friends, and I remain hopeful that I will be able to increase my time working on it each day, in dedication to art, and to my own life’s purpose.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Best Regards,

Alexander Koleszar