Toc was born in Brooklyn in 1953. His father was a painter so he grew up with art, he says "I have been obsessed with making art longer than I can remember - or so I'm told." After serving a year in RISD in 1973, Toc realized that what he needed was not more academics, what he needed was to understand his self - the primary tool of the work. So in 1973 he entered a work/study program in Switzerland to learn the practice and disciplines of Non-dualism for 10 year. Then Toc traveled about until in 1989 while living in Hawaii, the toxic nature of oil painting finally led to a year of cancer. During that year Toc came close to death and studied life from that perspective. That time away from the world opened up in his words; "A grand circus pantheon of interior personas and revelations." During this time he realized the wonderfully proletariat nature of graphic novels and the virtually untapped possibilities inherent in that medium as art. In 1990 he moved back to New York and began making art comics through a process he called Direct-Observation. Direct-Observation is seeing without mental interpretation without ideas. This approach was greatly influenced by the writings of psychologist James Hillman who spoke of inspired images as a transcendent guest coming through you into form, and that through mental interpretation you cut off its link to that transcendent Reality. This approach towards the work is a kind of deliberate, very present meditation and allows a transcendent quality to enter through you, which is to Toc the whole point.
Statement No1: I have been closing my eyes and spending time inside myself every day for 40 years. I have found a place inside that is a still-point where time is not. This Place inside me has grown till now I feel more "it" than me. In this sitting each day I do absolutely nothing, I let go of me and see what comes. On occasions very lucid sights occur whose intensity dissolves the-me, and whose scale is too huge to fit into my thinking. These drawings are my best response to those experiences. They are almost accurate. There is a story occurring between these images, but I am carefully refraining from imagining it - waiting for it to reveal itself. To me this story can best be told in the medium of the pencil. Nothing holds more directly the silent life of observation-in-light as a metaphor, undisguised, then pencil; simple, direct, and so very elemental. My drawings are a careful language of tiny vectors sculpting forms out of space, catching and moving perception with their continuous suggestions. I am very interested in James Joyce's "Aesthetic Arrest" - to experience observation free of thought, free of time, held in silence.
Statement No2: Through the eyes of an animal the sacred and realized awareness of Reality watches and waits. An animal is the perfect answer to its niche - its form is the very shape of its exact needs as sculpted by a million years of evolution. It is beauty incarnate because our criteria for beauty was sculpted by the same principles that formed that evolution. An animal looks out from the vast ineffable awareness of nature - which is our very nature as well. Animals live in a state of oneness with that ineffable nature – to me animals are holy - but humans are blocked from experiencing that awareness by the incessant domination of our thought/ego/mind. The absence of thought is blissful. Blissfulness is not exciting, it is not interesting, it is not attached to desires or their fears, it is not good or bad, it knows no past and projects no future, it is a subtle ever present self-effulgent completeness within each of us that is synonymous in experience with beauty. It is this realization that is the essential direction of my work. I am making small reminders of that place within where the heart opens.