I am flummoxed how to explain from scratch who Leo Toye is… being a part of me who’s been mostly retired. Long ago… about 25 years… he came along as my doppleganger when I joined a group of artists in Sedona, Arizona to revive an Open Studio venture. We decided to publish a newspaper each month & I wanted to become a “columnist” & since I, loving that image of an inky feather quill pen, had always wanted a nom d’plume... Leo Toye became my pen name.
It seems I have always practiced calligraphy, remembering many posters made for High School campaigns & events, not to mention all the placards & signs for the department store where I worked after classes. Early on I gave-up my cursive… picking up my father’s version of writing with a curious mix of upper & lower-case, mostly block letters, gradually coming to love writing all in caps, long before that became digital screaming. But then… I’ve always been a bit of a screamer.
Leo Toye’s name is a literal description of my visual logo… that lion on wheels. The format was graphically columnar, of course. The medium was ink, thus the title TUSCH… meaning ink, most specifically the “india ink” with which I had a rather deep relationship, using technical pens to write my journal in that permanence.
I had danced, work/playing, with graphic design those middle years [early 80’s] in Sedona, creating logos & labels for other businesses, so when we conceived making a monthly tabloid as our publicity organ, which declared a quaint anodyne to the slick-cover-magazine-culture supporting / supported by the galleries, I was there with a black & white sensitivity useful to newsprint.
Leo surfaced on my mind’s drawing table & evolved in small body of work of which I’ve always been proud. Leo could use words in a way which mixed studious years of evolution inside the many covers of my habit to journal with something attempting visual poetry. While I was angry he could be enigmatic… I did indeed like having a doppleganger to blame for my excesses!
We eventually became mired in the publishing & the group wore itself out. Leo mostly retired, yet “we” kept writing in my journal & doing the occasional bit of calligraphy or design. I still frequently refer, in many stories & much history, to Leo Toye when I’m playing with words & ink.
Now, after some long periods of neglecting my journal, in part due to having become computer literate, as they say… believing I would journal digitally. I did not, for numerous reasons, mostly because the computer seems to lack similar intimacy as pen-in-hand fosters deeply private thinking. The keyboard supposes capability of publishing, while the ink flows from my hands in very different mental processes involving more soul somehow…
I have recently returned to that inky process which I realize as being important, if not imperative. I can only allude to the many stories I would tell, but this is still just the introduction to Leo Toye, who seemingly spontaneously resurrected himself when I volunteered to write a publicity piece for our upcoming Spring Vashon Island Artist Studio Tour. As I began making notes for an article in pencil I quickly found myself drawing the words as interactive shapes rather than sentences.
This is Leo Toye’s art, a certain visual poetry… calligraphy making a composition of literate words & drawing dancing more lively than typeset on the page.