JT: I grew up in Colorado near Boulder. Until I was aged 14 my dad was a pastor in Christian churches. The earlier church where he was assistant pastor was very much like the famous "Evangelical" churches that are featured in the documentary "Jesus Camp". There were miracles, spectacles, speaking in tongues, a pool for baptizing. Sometimes church members would line up around the stage and my dad would lay his hands on their heads and pray. When this had gone on long enough, the person would be knocked over by the power of God, falling into the waiting arms of deacons to lay on the floor crying from the experience. I was suspicious, so one time I got in the line. My dad put his hands on my head, I think my arms were in the air, and then I fell.
There I was, laying flat on my back asking myself if I had been knocked over by supernatural force or what? I went up knowing I was going to fall so was this a real thing? I had my doubts. Somehow I always felt like I was being tricked, and I still feel like that sometimes. Now I mostly feel like other people are being tricked and I'm not, but I catch myself back on the other side of that line occasionally. When my dad started his own church the theatrics were toned down a little, but the belief was notched up. No fakers. I think I could fill a book with the stories from my childhood and the lessons I learned from questioning my surroundings, this is just a teaser. My love for skateboarding and punk rock lead me to the Bay Area and I moved to LA to attend grad school at UCLA.
JT: I love LA. People are very free to express themselves here, and not just in a politically correct, socially accepted way. Anything goes. "Beto's" is my favorite food truck. It's on Jefferson near Burnside from 7:00-11:00pm and I highly recommend their tacos al pastor. The food is not sketchy.
JT: UCLA was really great. I pretty much stuck with the painting faculty, they offer a genuine painting program where you go into the studio and work. I think it's what people expect from MFA programs but rarely find. I was very inspired by Lari Pittman, Roger Herman, and Don Suggs and worked with them repeatedly. UCLA a real gem! The library is AMAZING!!! Because I was a grad student and UCLA is a research institution they let me check out as many books as I want and for like 2 months at a time. I still have a lot out even now! I'll have to return them soon though as I'm moving to NYC.
JT: I was still in school for the last show, and I had nothing to do except paint! It was so nice. There were paintings in that show that I really felt were good and others that I was suspicious of, in spite of the ample time I had to work. Now I have to work full-time to pay for my studio practice and bills and every moment I have to make art is precious. It gives me a different appreciation of the dedication I have to this conversation of art. I feel very privileged to make art with my spare time. It doesn't hurt that I enjoy my work at the wood shop very much as well. I'm glad to do both kinds of work.