B Y S U S A N L O N K E V I C H

The nearly incoherent babbling of a drunk man filled the diner where Jon Sarkin, C'75, was eating breakfast one morning: "The free cheese is in the trap!"
To the rest of the customers, those rasping words must have sounded like gibberish, but to Sarkin, an artist for whom ideas often come flooding in unfiltered, they were a source of inspiration. "I loved that," he says, "So I made a
For Caroline, Robin and
Curtis, 1994
poster that says, 'The free cheese is in the trap.' What does that mean? The free cheese is in the mousetrap. Looking for the free cheese? Guess what. It's in the mousetrap. It's going to kill you! "
Sarkin used to have a successful, if more conventional, career as a chiropractor, often traveling around the country to give lectures. And then his life took a "decidedly interesting turn." A massive stroke eight years ago, he believes, unleashed the unconventional artist within. Since then, The New Yorker, GQ, and -- according to recent reports -- a Hollywood film production company, have taken notice.
"I'm free of the fetters of social convention that keep most people in tow," Sarkin says, from his Gloucester, Mass. studio, explaining his changed world view. "Now I don't give a hoot what people think. That is really very powerful for an artist." Out of that sense of freedom, Sarkin creates colorful patchworks of cactuses and Cadillac tailfins and pointy-haired people, and a talking sculpture from a cab door. He arranges magazine clippings, photocopies, and drawings on posterboard collages. He takes quotations and inverts them so their new meanings are sharper or quirkier than the originals. At the beach, with no paper, he draws on rocks. "I don't care. I just need to create." Continued. . .

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Copyright 1997 The Pennsylvania Gazette | Last modified Mon, Jun 9, 1997