Atlanta, 1998
Photo by Greg Hines

Well, Atlanta turned out to be the end of those dreams, not the beginning. The band was totally unprepared for the size of the task ahead. In Orlando, we were big fish in a small pond. In Atlanta, we disappeared. Being the new kids in town, we had few friends to bring to our shows to bolster our audience. Without a good head count, club owners were hesitant about bringing us back. It seemed everyone on the scene was in it for instant money, but what we needed was a manager with vision who would help us establish a long term career growth pattern. The bands, who we regarded as our equals, seemed to be only into advancing their own music. In Orlando we had found a supportive group environment where people believed what helped one band helped them all. Even the logistics were against us. In Orlando, it was easy to drive around town and drop off promotional kits with all the clubs and people who needed them. In Atlanta, it took days to cover all the bases. This lack of success began to fray our nerves a bit, and our cozy living conditions, all sharing a house, began to seem a bit close.

One day, our rhythm section quit, and Patman asked if I wanted to start auditioning again. I found myself deeply in debt from band expenses and depressed about losing the thing I loved most in the world, the band. The pressure of running the band had launched me into another fit of unending depression, and I just couldn’t take the idea of beginning again from scratch. I decided to fold and give up music, at least for the time being.

Fortunately, this last bout with depression got me seeing a new doctor. She turned me on to some of the new anti-depressant drugs coming on the market, like Prozac, and was instrumental in finally getting me to recognize what was happening to my mind and finding a way to combat it. I wasn’t constantly unhappy because of something traumatic in my past, but due to a chemical imbalance in my brain. I began to take medication, and I at last found peace with who and where I am.

Atlanta, 1998
Self portrait, 1997 in my apartment
Most of my recording equipment was broken down by this time due to excessive usage. I was too broke to replace it, so I returned to painting as my primary artistic outlet. Atlanta offers a big array of arts groups to get involved with, although the atmosphere is probably a little more conservative than many local arts people would care to admit. As I got involved in the arts community here, I began to actively submit my works to shows, and I was finding that during juried shows, I usually managed to get at least one work in. I have had shows all over town, including a career retrospective, and won awards. Perhaps my biggest accomplishment along these lines was getting thirteen paintings into three shows during the time the Summer Olympics were in town in 1996.

With my career firmly on track, I felt a little more confortable letting my appearance match my personality. I had worn an ear ring since I lived in Indiana, but now I grew long hair for the first time since high school and eventually I let my moustache fill out into a goatee. Not a traditional engineering look, but I thought my resume spoke for my abilities at this point. And if a company was too unhip to hire me, that was their loss!

And after finding a better job, for my birthday in 1999, I bought myself my first home computer. For about six months I learned how to work the thing properly, then began designing the Rick's Studio web site you see here. I have never sought out money for my paintings, but I still wanted people to see the works. As multi-media has flourished on the internet, I began to expand the site to include information on my other artistic projects like music and photography.

Once upon a time, a kept photographs of my art work in a photo album. I had to lug that increasingly heavy (and eventually two volume) tome around if I wanted people to see any of my work outside my home. I found the internet to be a perfect solution for that. My virtual studio allows me to present my art to anyone in the world with an internet connection. I don't even have to be there! And I can present my works with the appropriate documentation to allow for full comprehension of the work. When I prepared my above-mentioned painting career retrospective, I wrote up some wall labels for each of the works, as is often the case in a museum show. I had tremendous feedback from people to that, saying it really gave them a deeper appreciation of each piece. Those became the first commentaries on this web site, and now I try to include relevant commentary for each work here.

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© 2000, 2007 by Rick Hines.
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