Joe has been a guest at Our Daily Bread “for a long time.” We sat down across the street at the tables at Findlay Market to have a conversation. One thing I immediately like about Joe is his laugh- it’s big, hearty and genuine, echoing the lines and gestures in his artwork. We both went to college for fine arts, so we of course gravitated toward that type of conversation.
Above all, Joe is an artist. He says that when he was five years old, he realized he had a talent for art. He was a very shy kid and mostly kept to himself. “You don’t have to really talk to people when you’re making art.” His grandmother encouraged his creativity, and Joe describes her as resourceful and able to create things out of found materials. When Joe was older, he attended the University of Cincinnati’s art school, DAAP.
Later, Joe got into blue-collar work- prep cooking, that kind of thing. “I’m not an office type person, I don’t care for that environment.” He also had his own vintage clothing shop at one point, and he would go to thrift stores to find things to sell. “I was focusing more on that than art- a lot of jobs have pushed my energy to the side, and I couldn’t focus on art.”
Now, he does. He spends time drawing and selling artwork at Findlay Market across the street from Our Daily Bread. “If I can sit somewhere, and people see my art and they like it, I’m good.” He used to want galleries to show his work, but now, his goal isn’t to get art in galleries, but to get it in people’s homes. “Wherever I’m at is a gallery.”
Joe said he makes more sales now than ever now that Over the Rhine is being revitalized. “I can do more art and support myself, and art’s not just drawing, it’s a way of living. It helps you see things differently. It’s my therapy.” He’s interested in artists being together in community. We talked about that a while. He pointed to a building behind me and said the upstairs could be affordable housing and art studios for artists, and the first floor could display and sell the artwork made up there.
He feels art-based communities can keep people from ending up locked up.
“If our area promotes artist living, we won’t have people ending up selling drugs and in prison who find out once they’re in prison that they’re into creating art.” One of Joe’s personal goals is to get a building.
“As an artist, I think of different ideas and solutions. You have to give a person a fishing rod, not just a fish! Don’t get me wrong, I want the fish too,” he laughs, “but I need the rod, and I can do a little fishing.”
Check out some of Joe’s artwork: