After dropping out of college, I returned to my hometown of Eureka and went to sea. Working as a commercial fisherman was adventurous, romantic, lucrative... all those things they say it is. It was also seasonal and whenever bad weather made fishing impossible it was possible to make art.
In the spring of 1970, along with Keith Kays and John Intersimone (a couple of other waterfront artistic types), I set up a cooperative studio in an old warehouse on Second Street in Eureka. Another founder was Dave McDougall, then an art student at Humboldt State University. He brought in academia.
We named it W.A.C.O. or Western Artists Cooperative Outlet... but, in fact, the name came from a scene in the 1969 John Schlesinger movie "Midnight Cowboy".
I lived there for three years and it was in this place that I really felt like I was attending art school.
Mainly doing large drawings on a high quality watercolor paper that was available in a 6 foot width. Very little documentation of the WACO days exists. Mostly that was the result of a defiant anti-art attitude which I now wish hadn't been quite so anti-documentation. Anyone reading this with any old photos of those days... email link is below. Here are a few examples of some of the drawings and a couple of early paintings along with some images of the exterior of WACO taken from an old 8mm film by Scott McDougall:
drawing 1 drawing 2 drawing 3 drawing 4 drawing 5 first painting second painting
WACO exterior, 1970


In 1976, I was living in Del Norte County, in the far northwestern corner of California. At the request of some friends, I decided to run for County Supervisor in District 1. Originally conceived as a politically motivated work of Performance Art, after going door-to-door to get on the ballot by petition and campaigning for six months, I came to feel that I was in fact the best qualified of the three candidates.
I was very disappointed to lose, coming in second by some 150 votes.

card poster Austin Healey