Anthony Lewis . .. computer whiz, artist extraordinaire
Last week I experienced that dreaded event, the crash of my computer right in the middle of a writing project. I frantically scrambled to find the number a friend had given me for Anthony, the ‘computer guy who can fix anything’, she said. Within a very short time he was at my door. The first thing I saw was a huge smile that brightened up the room. I relaxed immediately.
The computer crisis got resolved, and in the process Anthony and I became friends, and he also helped me out with my writing format. I became curious about this compelling young man from Grenada, especially when I saw pictures of his fantastic art work. We sat down for a chat over a cup of tea.
Tell me about what inspired you to do what you do; what do you do that is different and great?
Anthony: That’s a good question. I’d say my inspiration for my artwork comes from different sources at different times, depending on what’s going on in my personal life. I’m not brazen enough to say my artwork is unique or great but it’s all of me, it’s what I have to offer. As for my livelihood which is my computer work, that started about five years ago in Ashland. I knew a lot about computers because I use to work for a computer game company in Eugene for 7 years, I also was in the military (Air Force) doing lots of computer work. So, when I arrived in Ashland and couldn’t find decent work for decent pay I decided to start my own computer business. I now get most of my business through word of mouth. Friends telling friends, etc…
What makes you different?
Anthony: My service to others, I enjoy helping people. I would say that my relationship with my customers is the key difference and the reason for why I enjoy what I do. I actually have become friends with lots of my customers, which can be a problem over time when it comes time for them to pay.
You have a lot of heart, wouldn’t you say?
Anthony: I suppose, if people need something and I can help, I want to help. I’ve had lots of customers who I don’t charge or I charge very little because I can see that they can’t afford it, but they need their computer fixed. Sometimes they refer me to a friend and it all works out in the end. Ashland is a small town, so I’m OK with that.
What is your aspiration for the business?
Anthony: Stability. I’m a horrible business person. It would be great to have some income stability. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. But I am hoping to acquire more business clients.
Is the computer business your passion… it sounds like you’d prefer to do art?
Anthony: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of paintings. I’ve always loved art since I was a kid. From the time I was young I believed someday I would make my living from my art. However, over the years I’ve learned that not a reality for me. It’s hard to have steady sales as an artist. And it’s hard for me to figure out how to promote my art.
I see you have a gift for design, art or computer graphic design?
Anthony: In Eugene I worked for a Computer Game company as an Art Director making computer games. I made lots of 3D family games.
Did you like that?
Anthony: Yes, it was like playing all day in my computer sand box, and getting paid to do it. It didn’t feel like work.
What has influenced you; inspired you in your life?
Anthony: I’ve had some really good friends, there was a woman I knew in New York, her name was Thelma Brown, and she was huge in my life. Thelma died a few years ago from old age, but she left her mark on me. She truly cared about me as a person. All young people need that from someone. Also my grandmother who raised me in Grenada had a big influence on me. She lived close to the natural rhythms of life.
In your art, what kind of art do you do, what is it about?
I go through different phases with my art. As I said earlier, it truly depends on what’s going on in my life. As for my style – I started painting realistic figurative works. It took me years to learn that I wasn’t very good at it. Now my work is semi-abstract. That’s what I call it. Other artist friends tell me it’s actually figurative. You be the judge. I have several pieces of my art on display at Allison’s in the Wine and Deli section down stairs in Ashland.
Is there a story you want to tell with your art?
Anthony: Yeah, I often do a whole series of paintings around a theme, like music. I like to show the essence of a thing, not just its objective form. It often takes me years to get an idea for a series, but once it forms in my mind; I’m compelled to get it out of my head and onto canvas. That part actually goes pretty fast.
Has there been a moment in your life where something has happened that has defined who you are or changed you?
Anthony: Coming to America changed me in a big way. I was in my last year in high school. America is so different. This country is full of wealth. In Grenada we lived in poverty, my family is not
educated, I’m the first to go to a university in my family of 7. My father was a plumber, did plumbing in high-rise developments, skyscrapers. He is smart, but not educated in books. He’s calm and kind, not a big talker.
Are there things you miss about the Caribbean?
Anthony: It was a carefree time growing up there. I suppose it’s carefree for kids know matter where they grow up. Yet I think growing up there was very special. I go back to visit when I can. What I miss is how in a small place, a little island, it feels more like I’m in touch with the earth. Here in Ashland and America, even with all this nature around me, it feels so kept. It feels like Man is totally in charge of everything. In that little tiny island of Grenada, there is not that kind of intervention in nature and so it feels like you are in the flow of nature.
When I was growing up you went to sleep with the sun and woke up with the sun, because you couldn’t afford electricity, and here you can do anything you want, anytime. Now, you might say it’s better to have electricity. Sure – I can see the positive in that, but somehow with every new thing that makes our lives easier; we lose a bit of our connectedness to the earth, to nature. I don’t know how to have all the stuff and still keep my connectedness to the earth.
In Grenada, because of poverty, you have very few choices and because of this fact people live their lives close to the earth. In the U.S people have tons of choices, yet, people here in general don’t seem to be any happier, why – I think for the most part people in wealthy countries don’t seem to realize how much their life is being altered by all the stuff that surrounds them. I think the benefit of all that stuff may need to be weighed against people losing a valuable piece of our humanity.
That is something you strive for?
Anthony: Oh yes, all around me is a different message of what is important. In the U.S the message from almost everyone around me is “stuff is important”. When I go to Grenada people see my clothes and they think, wow – stuff is important. When I tell my aunt that what she has is really, really valuable, she doesn’t see it. She is distracted by my stuff. The more stuff we get the more we are losing something of value; I don’t know the answer.
What’s one bit of advice you might want to give to others?
Anthony: Always try to do your best. I know that may sound like a poor response but I think it’s true. Life is so short; we usually don’t know when the end is near, or how the twist and turns will go, so always try to do your best. That way you can rest easy when the end comes.
Anthony’s art can be viewed at Allison’s of Ashland in downtown Ashland If you need help with your computer reach Anthony
directly at: 1-541-227-3292 or