By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Katrina Montgomery
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Monica Alonzo
By Benjamin Leatherman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Katrina Montgomery
"Knowing the real story now," Ground speculates, "I wonder whether there might have been a real Sallie Lou type of figure in his past, and whether something very dramatic might have happened to her.
"In any event, I feel there is more than one person inside of Andrew, and Sallie Lou is one of those people. If you see my collection of paintings, you get a greater appreciation for this. It is hard to believe that just one person did all of the paintings, since they are stylistically and contentwise so different.
"At one point," Ground says, "Andrew was taking an art class back in Pennsylvania as himself. What Andrew was painting in that class and what Sallie Lou was painting were two different things. Andrew was painting very traditional Eastern scenes in an almost childlike style and more toned-down palette, while Sallie Lou's things were wild.
"The religious imagery in Sallie Lou's work has a very serious quality. For example, I have a piece that has a black, crucified Christ as the central figure, but the Christ figure has puppet strings attached to it. I have always suspected that, in reality, Andrew was heavily involved in the civil rights movement in the Sixties, but who knows?"
@body:Whether Andrew believes he is actually Sallie Lou or whether he harbors multiple personalities are questions that, while intriguing, really don't need to be addressed. In many ways, all artists are multiple personalities, mere unconscious conduits for their creations, which are, for the most part, separate and apart from their true selves.
What we do know about Andrew is that he is a recovering alcoholic. He will proudly tell you he has been clean and sober for almost 19 years; he still attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with churchlike regularity. He was born in the Thirties in eastern Pennsylvania of German, English and Pennsylvania Dutch stock, and claims that his great-great-grandmother was Daniel Boone's sister. He doesn't want to reveal the exact place he's from back East, but says, "It's between Harrisburg and Philadelphia."
One of several children of a prominent physician and his nurse wife, Andrew grew up in middle-class comfort with a black nanny whom he worshiped.
"As a kid, I was either drawing or cooking," he says. "I started doing drugs when I was 12 years old, having to take pills because I was fat. I weighed 286 when I was 12 years old."
Later, he says, a brief stint in the Air Force pared him down to 175 pounds.
After high school, Andrew went to business school in Pennsylvania, then on to Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery in Boston (I specialized in pastries"). In 1954, he attended the Art Career School in New York City, the Academy of Art on Sutter Street in San Francisco and the Rudolph Schaefer School of Design on Coit Hill. After returning to New York for more classes, he went back to his hometown in Pennsylvania. "That was my mistake, because I lived there for 28 years after I came back," he says. Andrew supported himself by selling his paintings and doing numerology readings. "I've made more money out of numerology than painting," he claims. "I was also a psychic medium, and I still do readings. In the old days, I thought I had to be high as a kite to do a reading, like Arthur Ford, who was a great psychic who discovered his psychic powers after an automobile accident when he was given morphine. I discovered that wasn't true."
Drugs and drink eventually took their toll; at some point, drugs caused the loss of most of his teeth. "However," Andrew says, "I was very prolific even when I was high; I did almost 2,000 paintings in one year at one point." Trouble with the law finally forced him to abandon addictive substances. Andrew credits AA with turning him around. "In Pennsylvania, I had AA meetings in my living room downstairs every day, three meetings a day."
At the urging of friend Claire Burnes, Andrew moved to Cottonwood after both of his parents died. Burnes is a fellow AA member from Pennsylvania and the manager of Cottonwood's Serenity hotel. After visiting the town for a week, Andrew was taken by the friendliness of its people, who would spontaneously greet him on the street.
"I had sent Sallie Lou out to Cottonwood to be with a sick aunt, because Claire lived here," Andrew recalls. "On the back of all her paintings from then on, it said that she lived in Cottonwood, Arizona." Little did he know that this would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Andrew's work has taken different directions since he moved to Arizona. He's finished his African-American series and is on to other things reflecting his new Southwestern home.
Cactus crops up in the paintings now. There are convoluted dreamscapes and portraits of friends and people just passing through. There's a scene of Claire hanging lacy underwear and serapes on a clothesline in front of the Serenity hotel, and one titled "The Greater Sedona Area All-Girl Filharmonic." It's filled with buxom, beaming girls, white, black, brown and red, playing a motley assortment of instruments.