Richard Gaston was many things in many places and some of them were not so good. Maybe a lesser man would have chucked it all and simply stayed out there on the road. My dad didn’t and made a career selling points-of-interest maps and guides up and down Florida, always returning to share the meager profits with his family.
To a growing son, his obstinate ways and brooding physical presence became a source of anxiety and longing for some part of him left out on the highway.
It was through his art that I came to know the man. He loved Kandinsky and the German abstract painters and created an oeuvre that harkened back to those early 20th Century masters. Artists often attempt to create a vision opposite the experiences of their own lives. Kandinsky, the son of Russian aristocracy, labored for years as a respectable attorney. The art he later pioneered became the antithesis of that kind of life.
My father’s abstract paintings, drawings, and throw-away sketches were the vivid chronicle of an artist immersed in life’s ambiguities. In their thick layers of color and simple isolated forms, one sensed a search for something perhaps long lost. I only later realized he was painting his own diary.