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Speaking With the Distinctly Versatile Self-Taught Artist Billy Waldman aka Billy Crystals

While visiting The Dream, a delightfully intriguing exhibition featuring three self-taught artists at Sitting Room Gallery on the Lower East Side, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Billy Waldman aka Billy Crystal.

When did you first start drawing?

I’ve always been drawing — from the time I was very small. It was the language that came naturally to me.

What inspired you to do so?

I grew up upstate and everyone around me was creating art of some kind. And — like I said — it was my main means of expression, from age one or two.

What is your earliest art memory?

When I was five years old — and in the first grade — I won an art contest on the theme of “conservation.” My drawing illustrated how we can conserve water while taking showers.

Gee, that’s impressive! What keeps you making art?

Creating art is a means of releasing benevolent energy. It is a therapy tool in a world that needs therapy.

Have you any favorite artist?

David Hammons. I built his solar power system at his studio. He was always welcoming and receptive. He’s an amazing, versatile artist and he opened my eyes.

I know that you were deep into the skate boarding culture. What, would you say, are your cultural influences?

The entire universe.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

My love of life. Life is the greatest gift we will ever have.

How has your artwork evolved in the past few years?

It increasingly flows. It has become more dynamic.

Are you generally satisfied with your artwork?


How long do you usually spend on a piece?

Usually a couple of days. But, actually, my whole life — trying to figure out what to do next.

What is your favorite piece that you’ve created?

My masterpiece is the family that I created with Juliana Villela de Andrade Monteiro: Wave, 19 Luca Blue, 14, and Leo Sky, 10. Through them I have fulfilled my soul blueprint, aligning us with universal love.

How important is it to you that others like your work?

I don’t deal within the realm of likes or wants; it’s loves and needs.

What is your favorite media?

I like playing the paintbrush like a musical instrument on my rhythmic journey.

What are some of your other interests?

Embracing our natural world; identifying what it has to offer, nutritionally and otherwise, and learning how to be a good father.

How does your family feel about what you do?

I’m looking for a bond thicker than blood. I feel love from the entire universe.

Where are you headed?

I would like to be a benevolent force — the ultimate shaman — that enables the universe to release its positive energies.

Note: Featured in the first photo is the artist with his son, Leo, alongside one of his works on exhibit in Sitting Room Gallery

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos 1-3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 4, 7 & 8, courtesy the artist