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Artist named ragtime making 1,000 points of peace

December 18, 2007|By TRISH RUDDER

"I found myself on foreign shore

lost inside a box of War

but I'll never touch another gun

while undoing damage I have done."

- "Joining" by ragtime




BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Ragtime, a local stained-glass artist, has been on a mission for peace for more than 30 years.

Since the 1970s, and after he served as a Marine in Vietnam, ragtime has been speaking out against War.

Ragtime spells his name with no capital letters. He does not use his given name. He said he was no longer that person, so he no longer has use for the name.

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"He had killed people, and I didn't want to be him anymore," he said.

He said last year he attended the Freedom of Speech concert by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and he noticed the peace sign on the stage behind them.

That peace sign made such an impact, ragtime said, that he began making stained-glass peace signs to promote world peace.

He decided he would make only 1,000 Points of Peace, and that became his mission.

"I wasn't doing very well with creative energy in my life and art, and the peace sign gave me a positive path to promote my beliefs," he said.

Why he changed

Ragtime said he grew up patriotic, played sports and joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1963 because he believed in the idea of America and fighting for freedom.

He was a Marine for six years, including "reupping" to serve in Vietnam in 1967 and '68.

His views changed in 1970 when Vietnam War protesters at Ohio's Kent State University were gunned down by Ohio National Guardsmen.

"After Kent State, we were on the wrong path," ragtime said.

He learned that war would not solve problems, and he has been promoting that for a long time.

"I'm a warrior whose strength is not to fight," ragtime said, quoting a line from Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom."

After he got out of the service, he finished his undergraduate degree with a bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

He said he had no intention of becoming an artist then.

"I thought art was wimpy," he said.

One day in 1974 in Santa Cruz, Calif., he was in a bar sitting in front of a stained-glass piece that said "(expletive) Nixon."

"I decided to become a stained-glass artist at that time," ragtime said, and he taught himself the art.

In 1980, he and his family moved from Maryland to the Berkeley Springs area. He found property and built his own passive solar house and a separate studio, Sleepy Creek Art Glass, where he made his stained-glass art, and continued to try to find a way to end violence.

For a long time, when people asked ragtime what he wanted for Christmas, "I always answered 'world peace,' and I still do," he said.

Making peace

Making 1,000 stained-glass pieces is a daunting task, and ragtime knew he needed help. Local artists Kat Braun and Veronica Wilson are working with him to make the peace signs.

"Coming to the studio is a joy," Braun said. "We are helping to wake people up and making people aware through these peace signs," she said.

More than 150 have been made, and each handmade stained-glass sign is 10 inches in diameter. No two pieces are alike, he said.

The Web site shows a wide variety of styles, colors and glass types to choose from, and the peace signs can be custom made, as well.

"I hope each piece will spread the message out into the world that war sucks, and it's a message to overcome mass insanity which is what war is violence begets violence. Somebody's got to change the direction," ragtime said.

Change in direction

A portion of the proceeds from the peace sign sales is being set aside for a domestic violence fund. In October, ragtime's niece was a victim of domestic violence.

For more information, go to www.1000pointsofpeace.com., or call the studio at 304-258-5885.

"We're not fighting anything we're trying to influence the change in direction nonviolently," ragtime said.

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