Before Louie Rochon could find his way home, it took 20 years exploring numerous artistic paths - from watercolor and sculpture to fine art macro photography - before he discovered his true passion for abstract expressionist acrylic painting at age 62. For many years, Louie was well known for his sensual macro photography work ‘of all things floral.’ Louie describes Art, Emotions and Bipolar disorder:
"I've finally found a way to fully express myself, thru a medium in which I am totally free to explore all aspects of my thoughts, feelings and emotions. Thru acrylic abstract and expressionist painting I'm able to express the world around me at a pace that can keep up with the depth and rapid cycling of my emotions and moods of Bipolar disorder, a challenge I’ve had for a lifetime."
“I paint on the floor, on vast sheets of white canvas, music blaring, on my hands and knees, wet, fast and free, often for days at a time - and it ends as suddenly as it starts, always taking me by surprise. It's a deeply emotional 'trance-dance' of sorts, and when the music stops I'm utterly and completely spent. I ‘AM’ within my paintings."
Louie's work ranges from abstract to expressionist to impressionist, always encompassing his own unique style - bold vivid color and loose flowing line work that conveys a sense of joy, hope and deep appreciation for nature.
Louie Rochon (born 1 March 1953) is a French-Canadian / American painter born in Quebec, Canada
EARLY PERSONAL LIFE
The Rochon’s threw lavish parties for their neighbors and friends. Louie would sneak downstairs in the middle of the night after all the guests had left to eat his mother’s left-over delicacies, and every day he would come home from school after being bullied and sneak biscuits with butter and milk onto the back porch. His first addiction blossomed: compulsive eating disorder. Rochon’s mother did her best to protect her middle child and took him with her to the art market at the Hollywood Bowl in the early 1960’s where she would sell her paintings. He didn’t realize it then, but these times with his mother would prove a catalyst for his own creative career decades later.
In mid-December 1989, after six months of serious drinking, there came one especially dark night of such hopelessness and despair that Rochon consciously decided he would make a choice by morning: admit himself to an alcohol treatment program or take his life. He admitted himself into a 30-day alcohol treatment program at Milam Lakeside Rehab Center in Kirkland, WA and found a brief reprieve from turmoil.
In 1995, after 15 years in real estate, Rochon decided to try something different by moving to Arizona and starting his own marketing company, Vision Resources Unlimited, Inc. This new company was very successful from the start. He consulted with real estate professionals and small business owners, teaching them how to market and promote themselves, develop marketing plans and create media formats. He developed a national seminar and wrote two books on marketing while traveling around the United States teaching 'Strategic Power Marketing.’
The pressure of this success proved too great for Rochon, and he fell into alcohol addiction and severe depression once more.
WALK ACROSS AMERICA (1996 – 1998)
Rochon fell into an eight-year, nearly-fatal depression he never saw coming after a major back surgery the following year, when dozens of stainless-steel parts were fused into his spine to hold everything together. Surgeons told him later that when the two disks in his lower back ruptured during the walk, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Ten million steps, day-in and day-out, and those last few months carrying a waterlogged behemoth pack up and down the Oregon coastal hills eventually blew out his back. The last few months of the walk he couldn’t remove his backpack at the end of the day, as it quite literally held his spine together. Within six months he could no longer walk and could only stand for a few minutes at a time.
THE BEGINNING OF ROCHON’S CREATIVE CAREER
After he recovered from surgery, it was time for Rochon to start his life over again, from scratch. He decided to become an 'Artiste,’ as he’d had a passion for creativity all his life – though he was plagued by the perception he lacked talent. He had tried many mediums in the past, including sculpture, oil and watercolor painting and collage. What he lacked in confidence he made up for with perseverance. He could never sit still long enough to attend college, yet all the careers he undertook were successful by just jumping in headfirst. He was never afraid of hard work or trying new things. Rochon states, “I figured art isn’t rocket science - it's just expressing what's inside onto something on the outside. If it's the truth, it's good art. How it looks and whether it is 'good art,' well, that's just someone else's opinion.”
BEGINNING OF ABSTRACT PAINTING CAREER
Rochon’s partner Sandy, whom he had met in 2005, recognized the funk descending upon Rochon as a slippery slope and encouraged him to work on a painting he created with oil pastels, inks and collage during a difficult time in Alaska. Rochon had always found the work offensive because it brought back memories of a time he would rather forget. Sandy told him she was going to hang it in her home, but Rochon couldn’t bear to see it on the wall every day, so he decided to paint over it. It was her hope that this would spark him to once again explore painting, which it did. Rochon began painting prolifically in his apartment but soon outgrew the space and rented a studio in the seaside village of Langley, Washington in 2014 at the age of 62.
WORKS, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS (2014 – 2022)
2014 and 2015: Early Works and Signature Pieces
Seattle Sunrise, 11” x 14”
Painting Outside the Fucking Lines, 16" x 20"
Poppies, 24” x 36”
Ashland in Autumn, 25" x 36"
The Big Picture, 36” x 48”
The Wall, 48" x 60"
Sandy's Garden, 44" x 64”
Twenty-One, 36" x 36"
Ovation, 24” x 30”
Night Out, 20" x 16"
Fresh Start, 36” x 36”
Home 2050, 48” x 60”
Mother’s Day, 11” x 14”
Perspective, 36” x 36”
Relationship, 48” x 60”
Scrunched, 32” x 24”
Seasons, 16” x 20”
Trump Transition Team, 36” x 48”
Museo Gallery Show
Time Out – Trump! 55” x 42”
Pinhead, 36" x 48"
Flashback Freddie, 40” x 30”
Road Less Travelled, 24” x 28.5”
Urban Prairie, 36" x 36"
Wildflowers II, 36" x 64"
Harvest Moon Gypsy Flower Dance 30" x 40"
Wired, 60" x 66"
Portal, 30" x 40"
Revival, 36" x 36"
Neverland, 53" x 67"
Wanderings, 27.5" x 30"
WILDflowers, 30" x 48”
Hope’s Garden, 28" x 49"
Attitude, 36” x 36”
Stillwater Sunrise, 16” x 24”
Sweet Dreams, 36” x 36”
Canyonlands, 66" x 144"
Fuck Trump, 48” x 60”
Hendrix, 53" x 76"
Fjord, 10" x 26.5"
Autumn Flow No. 1, 15” x 7” Acrylic Floater Drip Painting on Canvas on Masonite on Raised Block
Autumn Flow No. 2, 17” x 6” Acrylic Floater Drip Painting on Canvas on Masonite on Raised Block
Autumn Flow No. 3, 15” x 7” Acrylic Floater Drip Painting on Canvas on Masonite on Raised Block
Autumn Flow No. 4, 15” x 7” Acrylic Floater Drip Painting on Canvas on Masonite on Raised Block
Mother Earth, 14.5" x 21" Acrylic on Canvas on Masonite on Raised Block
Lust Monkeys, 32” x 48”
Marie Claire, 33” x 38”
Olympia, 36” x 36”
Untitled, 55” x 39”
Warrior, 38" x 41"
Road Trip, 40" x 60"
Secret Garden, 52" x 68"
Madame! 26” x 44"
Cosmic Gardener, 53” x 58”
Tiny Dancers, 16” x 49”
Wild Roses, 28” x 48”
Dawn’s Promise, 36" x 60"
Faces, 48" x 60"
Freedom, 48" x 48"
Happy, Joyous & Free, 118" x 25"
Covid “Revival” Series
Revival No. 1, 30" x 38"
Revival No. 2, 21" x 40"
Revival No. 3, 22.5" x 31"
Revival No. 4, 42” x 30”
Revival No. 5, 23" x 40"
Revival No. 6, 22" x 40"
Revival No. 8: Awakenings, 35" x 38"
Revival No. 10: Angels in Scrubs, 24" x 36"
Revival No. 11, 36” x 24”
Revival No. 12, 48" x 60"
Revival No. 13: Change, 36” x 36”
Revival No. 15: Bad Dog, 43" x 65"
Revival No. 16, Sandbox, 36" x 48"
Revival No. 17, 48” x 36”
Revival No. 18: Fall Poppies, 33.5" x 33.5
Revival No. 12: Birds of a Feather, 48" x 82"
Revival No. 22, 25” x 38”
Revival No. 23: Walk in the Park, 24" x 45"
Revival No. 24: Freedom! Dancing in the Streets, 32” x 46”
Revival No. 25: A Mid-Covid's Night’s Dream, 32" x 47"
Revival No. 26: Starlings, 35" x 43"
Revival No. 27: Winter Poppies, 30" x 40"
Revival No. 28: 'Chaz,' 29" x 38"
The Tempest Laughed, 31” x 92”
Urban Legend, 21” x 79”
Reishi, 33.5" x 77.5"
Kulshan Meadow, 13’4” x 3’2”
Panda Cha-Cha, 28" x 53"
IMAGINEings, 38.5" x 85.3"
Blue Lagoon, 36” x 110”
Hope Springs, 48" x 60"
Spring Floral Diptych, 36” x 52”
Urban Poppies, 60” x 48”
Walk in the Park, Covid Style, 54” x 91”
Refugee I, 54" x 93"
Refugee II, 54" x 93"
WILDflowers III, 46" x 89"
Archipelago, 51" x 36"
Wild Roses II, 54" x 90"
Dot.COM, 50" x 43"
WOOF!, 48" x 36"
WILDflowers IV, 24" x 36"
Solstice, 54" x 94"
You had me at MEOW, 48" x 36"
PRIDE!, 36" x 48"
'OZ,' 54" x 95"
'Origins,' 48" x 36"
B&W No. 1, Tango, 36" x 36"
B&W No. 2, 48" x 36"
B&W No. 3, 54" x 47"
B&W No. 4, 40" x 31"
B&W No. 5, 50" x 22"
Harvest, 53" x 41"
ROCHON’S EXPERIENCES WITH MENTAL ILLNESS AND CREATIVITY, IN HIS OWN WORDS
“The last time I almost died was at Providence Hospital in Everett, WA – the site of Covid-19’s Patient Zero in the U.S. I was admitted in early March 2020 with a heart attack which resulted in the placement of a stent in my main right coronary artery (the 11th). I was oddly wide awake at 3 AM when a nurse came in to check my vitals, and we got into a rather intimate discussion. At one point she asked me to describe myself – to summarize my 68 years on the planet thus far, almost as if she was asking me to write my own obit. Interesting. So, what’s my story?
I’m an anomaly, a Dead Man Walking. With a litany of bizarre illnesses during my lifetime, I shouldn’t be here. Coronary Artery Disease, heart attacks, two back fusions, MRSA, one of the largest brain aneurysms on record, a rare blood disorder, COPD, alcoholism, cocaine addiction, an eating disorder, chronic suicidal ideation. And the most profound and influential: Bipolar Disorder, where I am prone to cycles of intense periods of extreme excess energy and anxiety (mania) and cycles of deep, dark depression.
I am brimming with many labels of western society – words my ego uses to formulate identities and project them to others. My stories. White Man. French Canadian. American. Son. Brother. 1960’s California Beach Bum. Lousy Husband (twice). Great Father. Hippy turned 1980’s-Capitalistic-Boomer. Highly Successful Real Estate Agent (I built and lost several fortunes in Alaska and Seattle). These are all roles I was born into; evolved into. They were professions I chose or created and then shed for others, always looking for something to fill that hole in the donut. I’ve been told I am a master of straddling the gray area between brilliance and insanity, which is probably why I’m still alive.
In 1996, my mid-life crisis and undiagnosed bipolar disorder catapulted me into a two-year walk from Miami to Seattle for Children with Aids, which would shape the rest of my life. After the walk ended, I explored numerous artistic paths, including watercolor, sculpture, and fine art macro photography, before I finally discovered my true passion for abstract expressionist acrylic painting - at the ripe young age of 62! I have finally found a way to interpret the world I see through a medium where I’m totally free to explore all aspects of my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And I can do so at a pace that keeps up with the depth and rapid cycling of my moods - going with them, instead of constantly railing against them. I paint on the floor, on vast sheets of white canvas, music blaring, on my hands and knees - wet, fast, and free - often for days at a time - and it ends as suddenly as it starts, always taking me by surprise. It’s a deeply emotional 'trance dance' of sorts, and when the music stops, I'm utterly and completely spent. I ‘AM’ within my paintings. They may be bright, joyous, and filled with bold, vivid color, or perhaps dark, foreboding and troubled. Either way, they are always 100% honest and reflect my current state of mind, as each painting is literally a small part of my life, a sliver of me, at that moment in time. This is what makes my art so explosive, and perhaps why it resonates with so many.”
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
13th Annual International "Botanicals" Competition ~ Louie Rochon's 'Third Eye' Wins 1st Place
Artist Magazine & American Artist, “Ovation,” Winner in Annual Internationally Juried Abstract Art Competition.
American Art Collector Magazine, “Awakenings,” Third Prize Winner of International Artist Annual Abstract Art Competition.
International Artist Magazine, “Awakenings,” 3rd Prize Winner of Annual Abstract Art Competition.
International Artist Magazine, “Road Trip,” Finalist, Annual Abstract Art Competition.
Southwest Art Magazine & Southwest Art, “Urban Prairie” 1st Place Winner in Annual Internationally Juried Abstract Art Competition.
May 2022 - "Refugees II," Whidbey Island Orchestra / Unisef Concert, Ukranian Relief Fundraiser, Freeland, WA.
2019 - 2022: USB, Langley, WA. Ten original paintings on display. Ongoing rotating exhibit for three years.
October 2020 - Present: Useless Bay Golf and Country Club, Langley, WA. Ten original paintings on display. Ongoing rotating exhibit. April 2020: Front Room Gallery, Bayview, WA. ‘One Man Show.’ Twenty original paintings on exhibit for the month of April.
May - June 2019: TLC Sanctuary, Freeland WA. Eight original paintings on display for the months of May and June.
Nov. 2018: Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (WICA), One Man Invitational for the month of November. "Remixing Imagination, Daring to Defy the Status Quo: The Paintings of Louie Rochon."
September 2018: Rochon Fine Art Studio & Gallery Grand Opening, Clinton, WA.
August 2017: Whidbey Open Artist Studio Tour.
June - July 2017: Northwinds Art Gallery, Port Townsend, WA. Juried Show and exhibition for the months of June and July.
June 2017: Whidbey Island Art Gallery, Langley, WA. Invited to display for the gallery's 20-year anniversary through the month of June.
2017: MUSEO, A Contemporary Gallery by the Sea. Invited to display three original paintings for the month of February. Pinball Wizard theme.
2014: Whidbey Art Gallery Invitational, Langley, WA.
2013: Rob Schouten Gallery Invitational, Langley, WA. Group Exhibition.
2012: The Commons Invitational, Langley, WA. One Man Show.
2012: Useless Bay GCC Invitational, Langley, WA. One Man Show.
2011: UBCC Invitational, Langley, WA. One Man Show.
January 2019: Front Room Gallery, Bayview, WA.
2005 - 2006: Owner/Operator of ‘The Strangest Little Art Gallery in WA,' Ocean Shores, WA.
2000 - 2001: Whidbey Island Art Gallery, Langley, WA
May 2022: Donated proceeds from painting for Ukranian Relief Effort, Whidbey Island Orchestra Unisef Fundraiser. Refugees II, 53” x 92” Acrylic on Canvas.
November 2020: Donated painting and raised funds for local Good Food Bank in Langley, WA during pandemic. Revival No. 19, 24.5” x 24.5” Acrylic on Canvas.
September 2020: Two paintings donated in Gratitude to University of Washington Medical Center in Honor of Nurses. Forgotten Angels, 36” x 48” Acrylic on Canvas, and Angels in Scrubs, 24” x 36” Acrylic on Canvas.
May 2020: Donated painting and raised funds for FeedingAmerica.org, national food bank drive during pandemic. Revival No. 1, 30" x 38" Acrylic on Canvas.
July 2019: Donated painting and raised funds for the Susan B. Komen Walk for Breast Cancer, Seattle, WA. Dawn’s Promise, 36” x 60” Acrylic on Canvas.
June 2017: One Day Workshop to Encourage Ryan’s House Youth to Paint from the Soul, Langley, WA.
1996 – 1998: Two-year Walk Across America for Children with Aids. Miami to Seattle.
REFERENCES / SOURCES / EXTERNAL LINKS / SEE ALSO
Rochon Fine Art Website: www.rochonfineart.com
Rochon Fine Art Artwork Archive: https://www.artworkarchive.com/pieces
March 2023: Gourmet Art Bread, South Whidbey Record @ https://www.rochonfineart.com/news?pgid=l19t0cu4-e1d6ddd2-b675-4008-bb7e-d5e5a28fd580
2022: ArtFix Daily Wire: 13th “Botanicals” Exhibition Results Announced by Art Gallery. Louie Rochon wins first place. https://www.rochonfineart.com/news?pgid=l19t0cu4-9426b63e-2080-4dfb-8d1d-628eaf197de4
October 2020: Useless Bay Golf and Country Club. 10 works on display, ongoing exhibit. https://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/life/south-whidbey-artist-is-painting-the-blues-away/
January 2019: International Artist Magazine / Finalist (1/19) for “ROAD TRIP.” https://www.pressreader.com/usa/international-artist/20190401/281749860696000
November 2018: Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (WICA), One Man Invitational for the month of November. "Remixing Imagination, Daring to Defy the Status Quo: The Paintings of Louie Rochon." https://www.wicaonline.org/events-calendar-view/2018/11/3/remixing-imagination-daring-to-defy-the-status-quo-the-paintings-of-louie-rochon? AND https://www.livingwhidbeyisland.com/for-the-arts/2018/10/28/louie-rochon
January 2018: Artist Mag Finalist Abstract / SW ART Feature (1/2018); https://www.southwestart.com/articles-interviews/feature-articles/the-jurors-choice
August 2017: Whidbey Open Artist Studio Tour: http://www.whidbeyworkingartists.com/louie-rochon.html
June 2017: Whidbey Record; Ryans House/Painting (2017): http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/life/langley-artist-encourages-ryans-house-youth-to-paint-from-the-soul/
December 2016: Whidbey Record: Painting (2016): http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/life/langley-artist-turns-emotion-passion-into-works-of-art/
March 2014: Whidbey Record: Photog (2014): https://www.whidbeylifemagazine.org/louie-rochon-finds-his-light-among-the-flowers/
March 2014: Virtual Art Gallery, S. Whidbey Record (2013: Photog: https://www.whidbeylifemagazine.org/virtual-gallery-march-2014-parsons-rochon/
Papier Mache on The Wild Side: https://rochonpapiermache.blogspot.com/
June 2007: “Artist Humors His Demons” - Whidbey Record; (2007) Papier Mache: http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/artist-humors-his-demons/
May 2005: Owner/Operator of ‘The Strangest Little Art Gallery in WA,' Ocean Shores, WA. https://www.heraldnet.com/life/pointed-opinions-in-papier-mache/
August 2019: Susan G Koman 3-Day/60 Mile WALK: 9/19 Whidbey Record: http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/whidbey-walkers-raise-money-to-fight-cancer/
Walk Across America for Children with AIDS
February 1998: GETTY IMAGES (LA): https://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/news-photo/walker-rain-rdl-louie-rochon-strolls-in-the-pouring-rain-news-photo/569148625#/mewalkerrainrdl-louie-rochon-strolls-in-the-pouring-rain-along-coast-picture-id569148625
February 1998: Los Angeles Times: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1998-feb-19-me-20768-story.html
February 1998: “Marching Missionary,” Los Angeles Times: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1998-feb-07-me-16519-story.html
November 1997: Orlando Sentinel: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-1997-11-28-9711280217-story.html
August 1997: Backpacker Mag: https://books.google.com/books?id=b94DAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=louie+rochon+walk+america&source=bl&ots=R5kqEXdZyN&sig=msxoX2aY6lu3TUgHu4RZ1eaN9Rw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjkkcLZ9Y3TAhUL7WMKHcXzBNYQ6AEIKzAD#v=onepage&q=louie%20rochon%20walk%20america&f=false
February 1997: Daily World, Opelousa, LA: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/228923218/
September 1996: Arizona Republic: 9/14/96: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/123635939/
September 1996: Kokomo Tribune, Florida: https://newspaperarchive.com/kokomo-tribune-sep-17-1996-p-4/
September 1996: South Florida Sun Sentinel: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1996-09-17-9609160570-story.html
Fine Art Macro Floral Photography (2009 – 2014)
Rochon continued to do papier mache but soon became bored. He immersed himself in the recovery community on Whidbey Island while looking for his next creative inspiration. In 2009 he purchased a digital camera and began to shoot macro images. He had worked with photography doing product marketing during his time at Carl’s Jr. and had enjoyed the craft. Rochon rented an apartment in the forest and began to bring flowers into his home to experiment with, and soon found his niche shooting fine art florals, amassing a following and showing his work in the local art community. After five years, he found his passion for photography waning and began to flounder both professionally and personally, as he felt he no longer had a purpose.
Louis Charles Rochon was born in Quebec, Canada on March 1, 1953. At age four he migrated to the United States with his parents and two siblings. They initially purchased a home in The Dalles, Oregon before moving to Southern California. Rochon’s father was a PhD Chemist who worked on NASA’s Apollo Project and his mother was housewife, gourmet cook and painter. Only their father could speak English, which proved difficult and isolating for the family until they were able to learn the language and assimilate into the culture. Rochon describes the experience as having his young world completely turned upside down. "I might as well have landed on Mars. This new world was terrifying for a little kid and it manifested in a number of not-so-healthy ways, which carried through my entire life."
Rochon continued struggling to fit in until high school, when he discovered his “tribe” – and drugs. Soon thereafter he dropped out of high school and recalls spending his days “as a long-haired hippie, driving a van and hanging out at the beach surfing most days.” His relationship with his father was rife with conflict, and his mother and older sister constantly broke up screaming matches and physical altercations. Rochon moved into a trailer at the back of the property and left when he was 16 to live in a turret house on the Pacific Ocean.
EARLY BUSINESS CAREER AND STRUGGLES WITH ADDICTION AND MENTAL ILLNESS
Rochon wanted to be a chef and started culinary school but didn’t have the patience for the book work and dropped out. By this time his mother had divorced his father and remarried a man who owned several McDonald's
restaurants. Rochon worked at one of the restaurants briefly before switching to another fast-food chain, Carl’s Junior, where he worked up from Manager to Management Training Instructor to Multi-Unit Supervisor, responsible for eleven restaurants – ten which he opened in one year. By the late 1970’s Rochon had exhausted this career with Carl’s and had become grossly disenchanted with the crowded, smog-choked rat-race of Southern California. He and his first wife packed up everything and made the 2,500-mile trek north to Eagle River, Alaska, about as far away from Southern California as they could get.
In early 1996, Rochon read a book called ‘A Walk Across America’ by Peter Jenkins and decided to drop off the grid and walk across the country. He had to do something drastic to try and save his life, and maybe even do some good in the process. Rochon recalls that “apart from the fact that I was a two-pack-a-day smoker, 30 lbs. overweight, again, and walking to the pantry for a bag of potato chips was a major challenge - why not? What did I have to lose? I had no life. I felt nothing inside. I was dead.”Over the summer Rochon sold everything he owned to raise money for travel expenses. “This was another one of those periods in my life - all or nothing – where I burned all my bridges behind me. There was no way out except to finish what I'd started. I had no career, no home, no relationship - just time and 5,000 miles of road ahead of me. The prospect of so much freedom was overwhelming, yet offered boundless exhilaration with anticipation of unknown adventures. I felt like I was 17 again, when I spent summers hitchhiking around the U.S. and Canada.”Rochon put the word out to friends for charity suggestions. Soon thereafter someone suggested he go to a luncheon to hear a man speak about kids with AIDS.
After the presentation he introduced himself to the speaker, Jim Jenkins of the Children with AIDS Project of America, a nonprofit in Phoenix, AZ. Rochon had found his cause. During his two-year, 5,200-mile trek, Rochon raised tens of thousands of dollars, and reached over 90 million people via television, radio, and news promotion. He still considers it the most challenging and rewarding time of his life.
He worked at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage while studying for his real estate license. The timing for a change of career was incredibly fortunate, as he entered the ground floor of the Great Alaska Real Estate Boom of the 1980's. Working like a madman for five years, Rochon made a fortune in real estate, amassing numerous rental properties, luxury cars, sailboats, and other high-end toys. He and his wife divorced, and he slid into a single, high-roller lifestyle of alcoholism and cocaine addiction that spiraled him into free-fall depression. He met a woman with two children and felt settling down with a ready-made family may save his life. They had a son together. In 1985 the real estate market died virtually overnight, and he lost the fortune he had built.
Rochon moved his family to Washington state where he filed for bankruptcy and started over from scratch, again. What he didn’t expect was the toll his alcohol abuse and depression would take on him and his family. The pressure of providing for of a family of five got the best of him and he sank deeper into his addiction. His second wife left with the children.
Rochon describes what it was like going back into “the real world” after the walk: “For a couple years while walking, I had a great deal of time to think, to imagine unlimited possibilities for my life - for my 'after-walk life.' What I hadn't foreseen was the excruciatingly torturous and incapacitating manic depressive episode that would consume me, mind, body, and soul. While walking, my life made perfect sense. I had a purpose. I was useful and productive. I knew who I was. I 'was' making a difference and my ego had identified who I was with what I had accomplished. When the walk ended, almost overnight I was lost, totally and utterly lost. I had no idea who I was. I was overwhelmed, feeling worthless, useless, and pathetic, once again. I thought that I’d walked away from a mid-life identity crisis. Family, career, aging; you know, the usual 'who-am-I-and-what's-it-all-about' stuff. That crisis was nothing compared to the confusion, anxiety, and desperation I felt after finishing the walk, with no new identity to attach to.”
The Strangest Little Gallery in Washington (2004 – 2005)
In the Fall of 2004, Rochon and his son moved to Ocean Shores, a small beachfront community on the Washington coast, where he created a gallery and working studio. He hoped to sell enough assorted artwork from friends so he could focus his time and energy on creating larger works. 'Rochon Sculpture Gallery and Studio' was commonly referred to by locals and the media as 'The Strangest Little Art Gallery in Washington.'
Rochon didn’t sell enough of other people's art to pay the bills, so he created a line of more affordable papier mache art pieces called 'FisHeads’ which were very popular and sold well. The problem was that he had essentially created an art factory. He had to create and sell four FisHeads a month to pay the bills, and there was no time left to do any of the work he wanted to do. He was basically living to work and not very happy about it. After a year, Rochon closed the studio and moved to Whidbey Island.
Rochon’s signature papier mache sculptures include The Screamer; BiPolar; Killer Chicken; Bull Market; Granny; Mirrored Figure; Earth Day; and Kodachrome.
Papier Mache Sculpture (2000 – 2005)Rochon went to the library to check out books on how to become an artist. He discovered a book entitled "The Simple Screamer," by papier mache artist Dan 'The Monster Man' Reeder. “As I sat there on the floor of the library reading, I couldn't stop laughing! It was a book showcasing and describing how to build papier mache monsters. Dan's creations struck a nerve with me. They were tongue-in-cheek, colorful and fun. This exciting new medium offered unlimited potential, allowing me to create, three-dimensionally, anything my mind could conceive.” Rochon had found his medium and immediately commenced work on his first 'creature-ation.' From this first effort came inspiration to create many more pieces, each one providing a means to express himself more fully. Art would become his new addiction.