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Somehow, I managed to
miss learning the old
adage "There’s a fine
line between genius and
madness" until a few
years ago.  And by then,
it was too late.

Somehow, I managed to miss learning the old adage "There’s a fine line between genius and madness" until a few years ago.  And by then, it was too late.  I had learned to embrace my mad creativity, occasional flashes of genius, and the odd antisocial thought.

What to say?  I'm a writer.  I always wanted to be a writer.  My attendance at the University of Iowa was initially motivated by attending the Writer's Workshop prior to realizing that the level of angst there was just too much for me, so I entered the MA English program, which led to being at the right place at the right time when the University launched a new program called the Iowa Center for the Book.  I'm an artist.  I never really considered being an artist, per se, but stranger things have happened.  I'm a book artist; doing tangible things with paper such as interpretive bindings, paper marbling, and paper collage.  I'm also a conceptual artist; something a whole lot less tangible, but which has lead to cooperative projects such as Paint the Moon, my 2001 effort to unite thousands around the globe in an ostensible effort to splash a red dot on the Moon using laser pointers.  I'm a bookbinder, or more accurately, a book and document conservator.  You can find out more about that (and see some of my bindings) at my business website:  http://www.legacybookbindery.com.  And I'm an all-around hell of a nice guy.  No, seriously.

OK, some facts.  I'm in my late 40's.  I grew up in St. Louis, was orphaned in early adolescence (my father was a cop killed on the job, my mom died in a car accident 18 months later) and my younger sister and I went to live with an aunt & uncle.  They were good people, but I was fairly messed up, and I fled as soon as I could.  Went to college at Grinnell College in Iowa, got degrees in German and Economics, and shed a number of my racist & homophobic beliefs there.  Worked writing ad copy for radio for a few years, then went to grad school at the University of Iowa.  I'm happily married, with two cats, and a dog (see Announcing Alwyn!).  For a goodly number of years I was heavily involved in a historical-recreation organization devoted to the Middle Ages, and for a while had the largest standing private army in the world under my nominal control.  No, seriously.  The fact that we only used blunt versions of medieval weapons led the CIA to conclude we weren't any kind of a threat to national security, however.  Now, middle-aged myself, I find I have less time to devote to such things, and my body can no longer take the abuse I used to subject it to.  Ah well.  In May 2004 I closed my gallery of fine art here in Columbia after 8 years of operation.  Running that business was educational, exhausting, occasionally enlightening, and ultimately frustrating in that we were never able to sell sufficient art to be viable.  All told, I and my investors lost a couple hundred thousand dollars.  It took me six months to recover psychologically from the closure, and it'll take years to recover from the financial hit.  But you know, I'm still glad we did it, because we sold a lot of great art, and contributed materially to the cultural scene in this wonderful small city.

Beyond that, feel free to Google me.  For someone who isn't famous, I'm, well, kinda famous.  OK, not in the sense of being a celebrity.  And I'm not the guy who wrote for SNL.  No one will pay me for just being me and giving speeches or "writing" my memoirs (damn!).  But I have been on both NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday and Howard Stern, been profiled in the same magazine as Paula Zahn, and seem to have a talent for getting my name in the paper (usually for good reasons).

And I really am a hell of a nice guy.

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all work © James T. Downey, 1993-2006
photos © Martha K. John, 1994-2006
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