“There is an undulating jazz beat that courses through the art work of John Sibley.”
Mary Houlihan, Chicago Suntimes
Art, music and literature have always been an integral part of my life. I grew up in a household, on the Westside of Chicago, listening to my father play the Boogie Woogie on his Steinway Grand Piano. He was offered a piano gig with the legendary Count Basie Band but he opted to give up his music career and raise a family.
I credit my cousin Levi, who is now blind and cripple, for mentoring me in art. His brilliant anatomical graphic drawings really inspired me. So much that my father paid for my course at Art Instruction School. I won an annual illustration contest. The title of the painting was the “The Spookums” that really ignited my desire to become an artist. After high school I studied a year at the American Academy of Art in Chicago for a year---needed some adventure and joined USAF the United States Air Force.. I will never forget the stench of human and animal feces (used to fertilize rice paddies in Southeast Asia) as I alighted from the plane in Seoul Korea. The stench still clings to me.
After receiving my honorable discharge I enrolled in Kennedy and King College in Chicago. Eventually I transferred to the School of The Art Institute in Chicago, graduating with a BFA in 1994. Like the Baroque artist Caravaggio, I have lived an unconventional and oftentimes bizarre life as an author in America. I never had the luxury of living off my art. I have had all kinds of jobs: CNN courtroom artist, temp worker, USAF policeman, ucaricaraturist at Navy Pier, Chicago tour guide, carnival artist and a spot-welded supervisor for many years. I briefly taught in the Chicago Public School System.
Early in my life I embraced a “do or die motto”, I was full of idealism and hell-bent on surviving as an artist at any cost. Ultimately, my naïveté made me homeless, for 6 months, years ago. I lived on the wretched cold mean streets of Chicago as a homeless artist. I spent many a nights, in the shelter gazing out the window at the starry heavens asking “God why has thou forsaken me?”
Eventually, I was hired as a spot welder, raised my family and continued to pursue my dream of one day live off my art and books. In 2012 my non-fiction book Being and Homelessness: Notes from an Underground Artist was published by Wordsworth Greenwich Press in CT. I will always be indebted to David B Lentz, a great author and publisher, for publishing that book.
In 2008 I wrote an urban sci-fi thriller BODYSLICK that was published by VIBE/ Kensington in New York. It is an urban sci-fi tale that takes place 2031 when human organs are more valuable than gold. That idea came out of Walter Payton’s tragic death from an incurable live disease. The books tragic theme is If life is a thing money can buy/the rich will live and the poor will die.
But my love of painting and drawing trumps any other creative interest. I am proud that my paintings are owned and in private collections: Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley; former NBA star John Salley; Manik Dover; Mike Tyson; the late great Walter Payton; Ex Chicago Bear, Revey Sorey; The Better Boys Foundation; Chicago Premium Outlet; Marshall Fisher Danley Lumber Company; and Stephen Rolf, CEO at Seint a global technology company. Some of my other accomplishments include Sports Artist of the Year Nominee for the American Sports Artist Museum Archive. Additional work is at The Southside Community Art Center.
To see more of my work:
Go to http://artworldchicago.com/john-sibley/
I have had a lot of media coverage: WGN Superstation Channel 9 with host Dan Roan, WNUA radio interview with jazz icon Ramsey Lewis, ABC interview with Jim Rose.
In August 2013 I illustrated, writer/director Ken Sibanda’s screenplay/novel “Hannibal The Great” for PROTEUS FILMS—you can see the movie teaser at- Hannibal the Great: Hannibal Born( Amazon).
go to: amazon.com/author/johnsibley
to read reviews about my books.
John Sibley joined Pixels on November 4th, 2013.