Right place, right time

Published 9:07 am Friday, March 7, 2014

Bruce was born into a Georgia home filled with music and art. With an artist mother and musician father, there was little doubt Bruce would inherit some of those creative genes.

“I was not only not discouraged, but I was encouraged to do this,” he said of his artistic leanings.

He first began taking guitar lessons as a child, but switched to the harmonica at age 10. Bruce, whose family moved to the Birmingham area in the 1970s, was in bands throughout high school and college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

It was at UAB where he first met Joy, now his wife of 31 years. Joy was home for the summer from Jacksonville State University. She and a friend visited the Pi Kappa Alpha house at UAB, where she met Bruce.

On their first date, Bruce took her to listen to the pianist Ray Reach and asked her to dance. Joy was smitten and decided to transfer to UAB.

“I decided I liked him a lot, so I didn’t go back to Jacksonville,” she recalled.

The couple settled in Alabaster, and Joy started a dance company where she has taught for 28 years. They also had two daughters, who are now grown. Both are married, and teach dance like their mother.

Bruce knew he wanted to pursue art professionally, although balancing that with a steady income has been challenging at times. While there are plenty of art and music classes, Bruce had to figure out how to make money from his artistic endeavors on his own.

“There’s a lot about how to make art. There’s not a lot about how to make money making art,” he said.

At times, that has meant doing jobs he feels less passionate about. He worked at Starbucks for a long time for the health insurance and other benefits. He also used to do a lot of decorative painting, such as murals and faux finishes.