Tim Schools Elaborates : Three years ago I drove up here to see the musician Joey Molland. To do his portrait. I filmed it. . . Joey Molland , he played with the band 'Badfinger'. . . he played some of the hit songs that as kids my brothers and I adored. Then, I took the film documentation back to Chicago and showed it to my backer. He also knew the band. He heard me singing on it. Because, at one point when Joey was playing the riffs from some of the songs, I asked to handle one of the guitars and show him a little something that I had made. He liked it very much and my backer said that I need to record and start playing.
That's how I came up here - - because of Joey. I didn't really get into the city much at first. Then, all of a sudden . . . I was in mourning . . . my wife died . . . my guitarist friend died . . . about a year and a half ago within a three week period. So, the music on the CD 'The T. Schools Experience' . . . I was not ready for anyone to hear it. So I was working around Joey doing paintings and doing my acoustic renditions and he was helping me out with some magical notes. So I've been doing these acoustic renditions for about the last two years as I travel to Chicago, Tampa and back here to the Twin Cities. Playing open mics and having fun. Now, just recently I've been really interested in starting to . . . I really want people to start hearing this. I'm really glad I made this album. With Derek Frigo which was extra special for me. . . then he died soon after we made the album. Derek is the son of the great jazz violinist - - Johnny Frigo.
Johnny would play at my art shows. I often had the top jazz musicians. . . so like Jon Weber, Johnny Frigo and Howard Levy would play at my art shows. . . like, in Chicago and set it up my own way such as the restaurant 'The Black Bird' where I would have my paintings set up and have these musicians playing . . . a really nice scenario. When I came up here. . . well, I eventually met Steve of Gallery 13. He's a really positive art dealer. I never really liked being involved with Art Galleries. . . I always sold everything on my own.
I've had really solid experiences my whole life. Been around greatness everywhere I've gone. Hopping from one stone to the next. In this techno world I feel. . . what I have is so primitive and strongly founded. Everything I've done, I've pruned and really taken care of it. I know its solid. I've been an artist for a long time and treat my music like my paintings. I started in Maine and then things really took off in Chicago where I did restoration work. I did this painting in 1987 'A Picnic' and I was at the house of Robert Biggs, the University of Chicago, doing some restoration work. He saw my work and I showed up at the house. . . I was young, about 22 yet looked 15. . . not what they expected. But, I have a certain craftsmanship in my blood as my family were restorers. So, this painting here 'A Picnic'. . . the reason the faces turned out dark was because I didn't have very many paints and I was a naive painter. I wasn't schooled as such but loved to paint. Robert Biggs and Clarence Anderson saw the painting and said it looked like a black family in a Renoir setting. I thought beautiful and they bought it. Before I knew it, the Chicago Tribune was writing 'Schools creates racial harmony'. It was a total mistake making the faces dark. . . yet beautiful and a wildfire of interest and buyers came my way. I had a deep appreciation for the black artist and culture. . . so like for five years in Chicago I got to hang out with a lot of great black artist who were not really known. Like from the 1930's and 1940's . . . I was making portraits of them and they sold . . . I would ask buyers why they want to buy these paintings from me a then 25 year old white guy when there are so many great black painters. They were not often aware of those artists. . . and, I got to hang out with many of them and do their portraits. . . some have since died.
Life has allowed me to cross the paths of so many legends. . . the unknown, because of the times were not appreciated. . . and also a number of music and art legends from the 1960's and 1970's. My uncle use to open for Johnny Cash so I have a real love for music. An artist friend told me never to do music. . . and that I'm meant to be a great painter. I've always had high goals. . . I think when you're a little kid your life is right there. I believe that thing about the first years of your life. They stay with you. . . my sister was born after me and she had a broken arm and a collapsed lung. A Catholic family with three brothers and then she was born. So my family was flipping out over having a girl. When she was born and in critical condition, I was a year and a half old and all the attention went to her. I was like flipping out cause my mother was like Mary Poppins. I set the house on fire and doing things that was to smart for a one and half year old boy. I needed attention so bad that I think I became really sharp at figuring out how to get it. . . and then at some point my mother began to orchestrate a win win environment for me around the house with my brothers as a remedy for the period of extreme lack of attention. . . so I began growing up with a sense that I could be good at anything. . . and ever since all my dreams and goals have come true.
Tim Schools continues: I think one of the most beautiful things that happened to me was working with those great black artists. I understood what they were about before many others did. I played an important role in developing the market for the black artist. Often I was asked what the value of a particular artists painting. I knew how much all the artwork of these painters was worth. Because, I was in the middle of all as they were being sold. I educated the Art Institute on the value of these works of art. Most of my paintings are in private collections. Some of my work is in the Art Institute in Chicago, about ten or so pieces in the print and drawing section. . . . I did a painting with Joey Molland where he did the background and then I did his portrait on top. I will likely have that at a show with Steve at Gallery 13. I also made a thousand prints of that painting.
With music, from having Johnny Frigo play at some of my art shows, I met his son the power house rock guitarist Derek Frigo. I had my music and my backer wanting me to record. I drove out to California to make this album with my friend Derek. I don't like to let the grass grow beneath my feet when I have an opportunity. I like things that happen like that - I meet someone and we had an idea where we didn't just talk we did it. So we jumped on that and I made the album with Derek. Then he died shortly after we made it. So lucky for me, I would of been kicking myself for the rest of my life if I missed that opportunity. Here was a great musical mind - - I think he was the most important musical mind alive. No one else would I have rather created with than this man. So lucky that I got to do that. So lucky what I learned from him. What I came up with originally was my acoustic renditions. The words and music for the songs done in an acoustic form. By the time I got together with Derek . . . one can see what he did with the music as in the first song "How Do I Live". Derek expanded and improvised on what I did acoustically. I loved his musical mind and give him a lot of credit. I will eventually do another CD of this work. . . redoing some of the songs with other musicians and leave this album as its own project in memory of Derek.
I don't do things for money. . . it would be a contradiction for me to do things only for the money. If I painted for money, my paintings would look like I was painting for money. So I paint what I'm really drawn to. . . I never paint what people want me to paint. People have offered me a lot of dough to do a portrait of their child or something like that. I say no, I don't do that. But, when I'm drawn to someone and I see a painting to be made - - then I pursue it. I don't like being special with art. No way, I don't like being controlled. If I bought a canvas stretched with a frame from a store - - - that already is controlling. It is telling me that the painting wants to be painted this size. So already thats done, I don't do that. I don't paint on canvas that is already stretched . . . if I have to use a framed canvas then I paint however I'm drawn to paint and then cut it out of the frame and have it reframed. Painting is a huge challenge. It takes a lot of courage to do a painting. When you get to a certain point . . . you can do overkill . . . do I touch it. . . do I leave as it is . . . I may not yet like it as it is. . . if I go any further will I ruin it. . . it all has to do with the individual and how you are. . . at times something needs to be a drawing and not paint on canvas . . . the same can be said of a musical composition.
I'm the kind of person that . . . life is like if I jump out of a plane with a parachute, once you've landed on the ground - - you can't go back up. I don't know where I want to land. I can't see it. I'm the kind of person that doesn't want to even define where I want to end up. All I know is that I want to keep doing what I'm doing. Keep creating, keep snowballing. One thing for sure, I would like to perform in front of a lot of people. Cause no one has hardly heard my music. I want my music to walk along in stride with my painting. They may very well be feeding off each other. So, I'm always doing my art.