Terence grew up in Mesa, Arizona. Although he was born with only one eye, he did what he calls “normal kid stuff,” like drawing airplanes and cars, catching toads and playing the trumpet. After attending a Jesuit high school, he packed up and moved to Texas to study engineering. But partway through, the allure of art grew too strong.
“In high school, I read about artists and their passion,” Terence remembered. “In engineering, there’s no emotional passion.”
Escape to Italy
In 1986, Terence took a year and a half off school, and went to study painting in Italy. He’d been inspired by reading The Agony and the Ecstasy, a biographical novel about Michelangelo. “I’d always wanted to go to Italy,” he said. “And Italian chicks are so hot.”
He studied art in the studio of an American artist, and learned Italian as fast as he could. “I was always cold, because they don’t turn on the heat,” Terence said. “I was always hungry, because food was expensive. But I had really great times.”
Back to the Oil Fields
Terence returned to Texas and finished his degree in mechanical engineering. He worked in the design phase of the oil industry, mostly on a computer. He liked the pay and the friends he made in engineering, and designing was interesting early on. But by the eighth year, engineering had gotten old. The drudgery of the oil fields were broken up by a couple of international adventures, including a stint in Aberdeen, Scotland. He also went to Colombia, where he was supposed to oversee the use of a 40-foot oil tool. But when insurgents kidnapped the tool and the flatbed truck it rode on, Terence had to give up and fly home.
Saved by the Penis
Terence had an emotional breakthrough when he entered a costume contest in 1998. Based on the applause of the 5,000 people attending, he won the first round in his seven foot tall penis costume. He still thinks he should have won the contest, but says it was rigged in favor of a couple who dressed as alternative Raggedy Ann and Andy. “I was deathly afraid,” he said. “I thought I’d be jumped, people would think I was a gay weirdo artist.” Flushed with triumph, Terence decided to cash in his engineering savings and move to Los Angeles to attend art school and do voiceovers.
Immersion in the Arts
Terence settled in Santa Monica and threw himself into the art world. His main focus was painting and drawing, but he also acted and did voiceovers. And he wrote a play about the artist/engineer dichotomy. In 2002, he returned to Scotland as an artist, debuting his one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He did an exhausting 23-night run. The play recounted his artist vs. engineer dilemma. “I got mostly good reviews,” he said. These were important formative years for Terence the artist. But then he fell in love and followed a girl to a blueberry farm in Oregon.
Terence’s wide ranging interests have produced disparate series of paintings. His Working Man series is about frustration, but he said it was a joy to do. He modeled each pose in front of a mirror, casting himself as the working man. This series “led into the masochistic fantasy guy who gets beat up in Tit Crucifixion,” he said. Terence’s most controversial series depicts a strong, giant woman abusing a tiny man. “Tit Crucifixion” was inspired by “a lot of dashed hopes with romances,” Terence said. Next he painted a series of portraits, but the young women models were flakey and often failed to show up. So he started buying old toys at thrift shops –much more reliable models-- and painting them. Currently he’s working on a series of landscapes that he plans to show at the Urban Art Network Street Gallery this summer. “I’ve never been much of a person to make statements about my art,” Terence said. “I paint what I really am interested in painting. One or two series might say something about something, but I leave it at that.”
Life in Portland
Life in Portland is busy for Terence these days. In addition to being a painter, he works on the blueberry farm and does two overnight shifts at a group home for developmentally disabled adults. He and his blueberry girl are raising two young children. And he’s trying to set up a small distillery for blueberry wine. His hopes for the future? “More time to paint,” he said. “Once the kids are in school.”
Visit Terence at the First Thursday Street Gallery, and see more of Terence’s work at www.terencehealy.com
—by Teresa Bergen
Visit Terence's Profile Page where you can read his Artist's Statement.