Five Minutes With: Stained glass artist Ragtime

September 16, 2011 

The peace sign is simple enough, but it can have a powerful effect on some. A West Virginia artist who goes by the name Ragtime found himself getting depressed with the constant news of war and violence in the world. But then he started to create his art.

ARTworks in Beaufort is showcasing Ragtime's stained-glass peace signs through the end of October.

Ragtime, a Vietnam veteran, discusses how focusing on peace helped him settle the war within himself.

Question. How did the idea for this project come about?

Answer. I've been in stained glass since the '70s. I've done windows and lamps and all that. When the first (Gulf War happened), there were days where I was lying there crying because we were involving our troops in a foreign war. It debilitated me, our foreign policy at times. It was bad at the beginning of this Iraq war, too. I thought we were in it for the wrong reasons. I was losing my enthusiasm to do anything creative.

I went to this concert in West Palm Beach, (Fla.) ... for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 2006. They had a lot of peace signs around. I thought I'd do a piece like that when I got back home. I owed someone a peace sign, so I made one up to them. I made about 10, sort of having a good time. I thought, "I'll do 1,000 of these things, why not?"

Q. And that made you feel better?

A. It became a good way for me to be productive. I feel like I'm sending my little peace seeds out into the world. I once had a rifle in my hand and thought that was what it was all about, but it ain't. I'd like to see all our troops home. You just can't fight fire with fire. It doesn't work. This is something I can do to help me deal with my opinion on all these wars. It feels like I'm lighting a candle for peace instead of cursing the darkness of war.

Q. How did you end up showing down here?

A. I was at Parris Island in 1963. I know the area a little bit. The people that were running our arts council moved down there. I've kept in touch with them a bit, and they've become friends.

Q. How long will you do this project?

A. Each one is numbered. The mission is 1,000 points of peace. We've got hundreds so far. Some people may not like it. I saw a friend the other day and asked him, "Hey, what peace sign do you want?" He said, "I don't want no peace sign." I thought, "I guess he wants an 'I Don't Want A Peace Sign' peace sign." So I made a peace sign for him and put a red circle around it with a slash through it. He got a kick out of it.

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