1. BORN INTO SUBURBIA
(1959-73)

Walt Hines, my Dad.
Walt Hines, my Dad.
Kay Sturgill, my Mom.
Kay Sturgill, my Mom.

I was born in Chicago, Illinois, May 22, 1959 early in the morning. My Dad, Walt, was a life-long employee of International Harvester, a company that specialized in making trucks. He worked in the field of human resources. My Mom, Kay, worked as a housewife, staying home to raise me and eventually my brother. I was born into a typical sixties middle class mid-western existence. America was still riding the 50's boom of post-war optimism. We weren't rich, but we certainly never lacked any of life's necessities. Family life was loving, and for the most part, very uneventful. Neither of my parents showed any artistic capability, although my Dad loved music and my Mom loved to read. But the artist in the family was here!

After about three years in Chicago, a promotion opportunity for Dad took the family to St. Clairesville, Ohio where we went from apartment living to a real house. We only lived in Ohio about two years, so I donít remember much from these places. It was during this time my brother Greg was born. Greg has grown up to be an excellent free-lance photographer, so I was not to be the only artist named "Hines."

Chicago, Oct 2, 1959
I didn't know what I was in for!
Chicago, Oct. 2, 1959 at 4½ months.
Photo by Sheridan-Peter Pan Studios.

Again, career advancement called to Dad, and we found ourselves living in a three bedroom ranch house in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I still remember the first day in the new house, walking between the moving boxes, and getting excited to find a sandbox in the back yard. This would be my home until I went away to college. Ft. Wayne was much larger than St. Clairesville, but it was still no Chicago, my starting point. There was little room in Ft. Wayne for contemporary art or music, and so I had little contact with these except through school. After having lived in some large cities like Tampa and Atlanta, I often wonder where I'd be today if I'd grown up exposed to the vital arts scenes these places have. It really wasn't until I got to Florida in my young adult life that I found artists who provided me with the examples I needed to see what I can do with my art. Until then, I had never had my paintings publicly shown (outside of school), and I certainly had no idea how to form a band and write music!

What influence did these years have on my artistic development? Dad had been a record collector back in his college days, and I was raised listening to his big band recordings. I believe he gave me my passionate love of music (realized in the form of a massive CD/record/tape collection). Mom was a reader. She always had a book around, and I remember her sitting up late into the night reading after everyone else was in bed. Reading seemed a normal condition to me, and I credit my love of literature to her (realized in the form of a library card). Like her, I always have something around to read that I'm in the middle of.


St. Clairesville, Ohio, 1963
In our backyard, St. Clairesville, Ohio, 1963.
Photo by Walt Hines.
Early in grade school, I found a style of literature in which reality itself was not a given, and the imagination can run totally free. As a youth, I was interested in science, probably part natural boyish curiosity and part fascination with the upcoming Moon mission. I still remember looking up at the library shelf to see a sign which read "Science Fiction." I was sure that the idea behind science was to find the truth, not fiction! I was puzzled, so I selected a book and opened it. The first short story I read had a team of astronauts exploring an alien planet. It probably wasn't very good, but I had never read anything like it before. I was enthralled immediately. By the time I graduated, I believe Iíd read almost every book on those shelves and was raiding the neighborhood bookstore regularly. I truly believed these books presented the future world that was my birthright. I mean, we were about to put men on the Moon, so anything was possible! No wonder kids want to grow up fast.

My brother Greg & me
My brother Greg & me.

I was inundated with television, as were most kids I knew. Star Trek became a serious preoccupation for me, functioning visually the same way as the written science fiction stories. The landing on the Moon was being promised by NASA, and with my interests in all that, Dad packed me up one day to see a new film called 2001: A Space Odyssey. I walked out of the theatre not quite knowing what Iíd just seen, but knowing that my life was forever changed. I had seen a story that had no clearly defined ending and neither hero nor villain in the normal sense. It was manís curiosity against the vast incomprehensibility of the universe. I began to get my first inklings that the world was not all black and white, but a great mysterious place with more questions than answers. Since seeing 2001, I've often tried to find the gray in the middle in my art, that nebulous area where things are relative and less clear with closer examination. I had to get in on that, but I was too young to know how. Everything else in life was negligible compared to grappling with existence itself. And somehow, I knew this film was a work of art, not just a "movie." So began a lifelong fascination with the films of Stanley Kubrick, a true artist working on celluloid.

Lane Jr. High, 1974
Lane Jr. High, 1974.
Photo courtesy Lane Yearbook.

According to Mom, I was drawing from about the time I could pick up a pencil. The stories passed on to me say I had an innate grasp of such advanced concepts as perspective and composition, as well as good talent at making things realistic. I mustíve picked these skills up from simply looking at other pictures and copying, and I still use this method of inspiration to this day. Now however, I will encounter an art work (painting, song, story) that provokes my imagination. But rather than simply copy it, I think to myself, "Thatís great, but if I were to change this and put some of that into it, well, it would better express my own feelings on the topic." Of course, my first images were pencil drawings of things that interested me as a youth: rocket ships, football players, musicians and cars.

I managed to survive grade school, getting pretty good grades and staying, for the most part, out of trouble. I had developed a feeling for science and was known among my fellow students as quite the "scientist." At the same time, I was getting a reputation as the class artist as well. If something needed to be drawn, for a poster, the class paper, the yearbook, I was the guy. I donít believe in astrology, but as a Gemini (the sign of duality), I find it interesting that my bipartisan life was set out at this early age. Even today, I balance a career as a responsible structural engineer with a night life as a Bohemian artist, so looking back Iím a bit amazed at how some things emerged so early on with almost intuitive foresight.

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© 2000 by Rick Hines.
Material may not be used without the artist's written permission.