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Aris AlbaitisI have been a professional artist for the last 15 years and it was a long road to get where I am. You may not like what you read here, so if you are easily offended, don't read this. Click on the links to pop-up photos.

Updated 11-5-2006

I was born in Michigan in 1969 to the parents of Paula and Allan. My mother was 19 and my father was 21. After my father left when I was three, to pursue a career as a drummer in a jazz band, my mother raised me by herself in Lansing, Michigan. She then worked, attended Lansing Community College and received a degree as an Nuclear Medicine Technician eventually moving us to East Lansing. Attending Marble Elementary, McDonald Middle School, and East Lansing High School, this is the city where I grew up and created all of my childhood friends, including my best friend Ben Morrow. Ben and I did everything together. Back to the days I can remember, Ben and I were getting in trouble. Even in the YMCA camp we were the first kids to get kicked out ever, for reasons I won't go into. In high school I was a crazy kid that loved heavy metal, parties, and destroying just about anything. Long hair, denim, leather, and spikes. For transportation I had an old 1968 Firebird, that was rusted out, but it took a serious beating and kept running. At this time my friends and I started a band called M.F. Inc. where I was the lead singer. Hanging out around Lake Lansing in the summers of 1985-87 was a blast.

Back in those days when we wanted to go out partying, we would build a bon-fire someplace in the woods and call all our friends. We would search trails though the woods and fine a nice secluded spot. We had names for all the spots that were safe to party at, such as "The Moon Spot" and "Tressels". On certain occasions, we would place a plank in the middle of the meduim sized fire, and try to stand on it, we called this "Surfing in Hell". And when the board burned through we would take turns jumping over the fire. One time a friend named Nikki, a bass player dude, went to make the leap across the flames, caught his foot over the middle, then fell into the blazing embers. We laughed so hard it hurt. Nikki was fine.

At this time I met my first love Noelle Alcaraz-Rakowski . She was a sixteen year old Venezuelan and the most beautiful girl I had ever met. I still think about her to this day.

In 1988 I dropped out of East Lansing High School my senior year, and wound up with a General Education Diploma. I would like to thank Mrs. Rist, Kate Viehl, and Angelica Nunez for taking the time to teach a heavy-metal, rebel-without-a-cause, kid and giving him an inspiration in art, without them I am quite sure I would have drifted with no direction for some time. A good friend and teacher of mine, Kate Viehl then helped set up a silver smithing shop at her new age boutique"Star Route 1". She allowed me to make sterling silver jewelry with quartz crystal stones and work in a backroom of the shop. It was hot and I listened to "Tesla - Mechanical Resonance" till it wore out, but I did create a few very nice pieces. I began Lansing Community College in the same year, majoring in Fine Art and began to hone my abilities as an artist on a technical level. While there I met even more powerful and influential artists that inspired me to a new level of the possibilities in the field of art. Denny Arnett, Jim Ferguson, and Dave Kleis are the instructors that managed to reach me, and again, I owe them greatly for their abilities as instructors. Nearing the end of my Associates Degree, my best friend Ben Morrow, with whom I had grown up with since I was three and was an artist himself attending art school with me, tragically died in a house fire while he was sleeping. He was a stabilizing force in my life, and when he was gone, I left art school and began to self destruct. A good friend of mine Angelica Nunez wrote this poem about Ben.

It was now 1990 and my mother fell in love with Alvin Dasen, a construction worker with whom I didn't get along with very well. I moved to Lancaster, California when my mother moved out there with my step-dad Alvin. It was such a shit hole in the desert that I only stayed there about two weeks, and moved back to Michigan where I lived in a farmhouse in Haslett, Michigan. It was very rustic place Life in that house with Joe Snow and his two sons was pretty rough as I recall. He let me stay there for free in a room smaller than my closet is now, and because the house had only one wood-burning fireplace, it was extremely cold. That stove was far from my room, and with one of my walls consisting of a sliding window to the snowy fields of the Michigan countryside, if I left a glass of water beside my bed at night, by morning it was frozen solid. So most of the time I spent hanging out with the band.

Our band was called M.F. Inc. I was the singer, Kent Kollmeyer played lead/rythme, Roxy playing lead/rythme, Banzai playing bass, and Jarred Churchill on drums. We played all original heavy metal/thrash at many parties, rented halls, and clubs like Harpo's in Detroit. To help overcome my fear of performing live with the band I started nude modeling for the life drawing classes at L.C.C. The band was doing well and we performed many places as well as several large venues in the Michigan area. Not quite well enough to support myself though so I started working as a male stripper. I would dance while taking my clothes off at bachlorette and birthday parties and made quite a lot of money at it. Then I progressed to stripping at clubs and at one point I was working in Canada at a place called "The New Danny's" in Windsor. On my first night working there I was getting ready and this huge buff guy next to me pulled out his dong and stroked like he was going to town. I reeled back and asked him what the fuck he was doing. That's when I learned that all of the dancers in Canada are expected to go full nude, and if you get a pudgy and put on a cock-ring, you look huge. And get better tips. Then the band decided to move to Phoenix for some still unknown reason and I sold my red 1969 Camaro and bought a 1986 Ninja 1000cc. I promptly painted it metallic teal, and we moved to Phoenix in 1991. We had tried to make a go of it with the band but never seemed to get the break we needed, so we all decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona for a fresh start.

We arrived in Phoenix in 1991 and found a cheap, rundown house to occupy in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix. We had ten people, three dogs, and one cat living in a four-bedroom house with a pool. The water in the pool was less than inviting, but we swam in it anyway to escape the blistering heat. At some point the plumbing became backed up and sewage poured from the toilets. Our solution to this was to place planks on the floors to avoid the soggy, wretched carpet. All the same the band was playing many gigs and I found a job as a stripper in a local touring company called "Body Heat". While Body Heat did tour, we mostly worked out of a club called Graham Central Station. It was a country bar where we would do our act to a women only audience, and then they would let all the cowboys in when we were done. I often found myself distracted in conversation with a young woman, only to realize that I am now standing in a crowd of rednecks, where I was wearing only a G-string. One night while coming home from stripping and quite drunk, I ran from the police when they tried to pull me over. Being very loaded I couldn't drive well and lost it going around a corner and hit a tree head-on at approximately 40 mph. The bike hit dead center on the tree and exploded into a million teal pieces, but somehow I didn't have a scratch. The police were right behind me and drew their guns when I picked up the now shattered and smoking bike. Then without warning they handed me two tickets for "failure to yield" and "no insurance" and sped away. From the moment I knew I was going to crash, to the point I was on my back trying to figure out what happened, I can't remember anything. But I've always had this feeling, like a word at the tip of your tongue, that something intervened. Eventually the band broke apart and I drifted into the darkest place I have ever been. I knew I had to get out of that situation, or the "life" would be my death. So went to the only place you can go when there is nowhere left go, home, to my mother.

It was 1993 now and my mother lived in a town called Tehachapi, California, a small place in the mountains two hours north of Los Angeles. I had brought the wreckage of the Ninja, and rebuilt it with junkyard parts over the next nine months. Made some crazy friends. I also worked out and got healthy, hiking the hills and applied to an art school named Otis/Parsons in downtown Los Angeles. I showed my portfolio from L.C.C. and the paintings from Phoenix and got in, with a partial scholarship mind you.

Once I moved down there, two blocks from the school, I realized that it was a very scary part of town. But it didn't seem so bad from my apartment window, on the 10th floor of an old art deco hotel, overlooking the L.A. sprawl. It felt like I was standing on the pulse of the art world and worked hard at becoming a great artist. Going to classes, galleries, driving my motorcycle down the coast, and binge drinking in Hollywood became my routine. We also made a few trips down to San Diego and Tijuana. On one trip with my friend Bart who was visiting from M.I., we got very drunk in Mexico and were bombing around some topless bars. At one joint I spied the prettiest looking girl there and paid for her to dance for Bart. After performing she sat on his lap and had drinks with us, that's when he got the strangest look on his face. He leaned over to me and said; "I can feel her balls on my leg!" We left. Then in 1995 I returned to Michigan to visit for the first time in almost five years.

I met a beautiful medical student named Lori Dowie on the second day of being in Michigan and spent the rest of my two-week vacation with her, much to the disappointment of my friends. She was going to Michigan State University to become a doctor and still had two years of school remaining. We vowed to be together but I still had one year of art school remaining, so I returned to L.A. and we had a long distance relationship for that entire year. Should have bought stock in Kleenex that year. She flew out for my graduation in 1996 and a few months later, I moved back to Michigan to be with her. We lived in her condo in Haslett, and I started painting for a career. I made several great paintings and murals that I still feel are strong works. I visited old friends, but you know how that goes, you can never go home. Everything looked the same, but wasn't the same and the old streets seemed small. Lori and I had alot of fun making Halloween costumes and winning contests. One great year I was the devil and she was an angel I had caught. Once again I got into shape and stripped a little on the side. Mostly because I liked performing and I would create elaborate routines. When she graduated medical school in 1997 I told her that we had to move someplace warm, so she got an Internship in West Palm Beach, Florida and we moved there.

The first job I got in West Palm was as a doorman at a nightclub called "Monkey Club". It was the stereotypical crowd of clubbers in the South Beach style with expensive clothes, tans, and fake boobs. But if you wanted to get into the hottest club on the street, you went by me. It was a fun power trip and people coughed up big tips to get past the line. I was very good at spotting fake drivers licenses, which I attribute to being an artist and on busy nights would take as many as 30 from underage kids. I would then sell them back to them when I got out at 3am, for $40 each. Once again I would party all night and got into drinking with my coworkers. When you get out of work at 3am and go out for a few, you usually end up getting home right about sunrise. After a year of that it was eroding my relationship with Lori, so one night after I got into a fight with the owners son, I quit. Which was good because I then began my next cycle of art making.

I landed some work in Orlando at a new three-story bar that was opening up. It was actually three different bars going strait up. I made all sorts of things for them, over the course of many months and I would travel up there and stay for weeks at a time. Then Lori was applying for Residency and she got a position in Fort Lauderdale so we moved down there. In the down time I taught myself web design and built my first web site for my own portfolio. I called every mural agency in the book and eventually got a job for a company called Graphicatta in Miami. They did mostly Faux finish but also Trompe' L'oiel and murals for the South Florida area. One project we got was in Aruba at the Wyndham Hotel and Resort. We spent a total of three months there repainting their casino named Casablanca to look like a Moroccan palace. Living there was pretty cool, beautiful beaches and nice people. Being a desert island 16 miles from the Venezuelan coast, it was mostly Latin people, but the native Arubians were different. It took time but eventually I became friends with few of them.
I had been asking the bartender to take me to a place where they hung out, where only the natives went. So they finally brought me to a little bar on the north side of the island called "Buddha". We drank, and drank, and drank. Then someone had the idea for flaming shot of Sambuka. I was already hammered and when I reached for my drink, I tipped it over. Flaming liquid spread out across the bar in front of me. In my panic I tried to slap out the flames with my hands. Now there was flaming spatter everywhere and my hands were also on fire. No one was hurt, and the bar didn't burn down, but it was quite embarrassing. I felt bad but they loved it and laughed their ass off at the crazy white guy. Around then I made my second web site, for Graphicattas portfolio.

By now it was 2001 and Lori graduated from her Residency in Family Practice and decided to open her own clinic. We looked for a good place to set up shop and eventually settled on Jupiter, Florida. Then we leased office space and got it all set up with medical equipment, computers, desks and all that stuff. I painted the walls with the best faux finish I had learned and we decorated it very nicely on a tight budget. I made a website for her office as well. www.4myDO.com We bought a three bedroom, three-bathroom house on a half acre about one mile from the Atlantic Ocean house where we live today. I now work as a freelance artist. Although Lori and I have were together for nearly eleven years, we were never married and had no children.

In the summer of 2006 Lori and I broke up and I was back on my own.

I ended up getting a two bedroom, two bath apartment in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. I walked away with a TV, some CD's, and a computer. Almost nothing. I had very little to show for eleven years of life and it was very hard at first to keep my chin up and move on. But I have slowly become my own person again.

Halloween I dressed up like Wolverine.

I am single now and it is all very strange. After a few months I started dating again. This is going to be it's own chapter, as the stories are pretty funny.

 
 
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