Artist and musician, Rob Cork was born in Palo Alto, California, to a German mother and American artist father. As an experienced world traveler at a young age, Rob was quite comfortable to wander about his neighborhood with his dog, Terri the Terrier, at his side. His parents encouraged and nurtured artistic expression and Rob was never wanting for art supplies. He says of his early years, “I grew up around art. I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid.” But, it was through regular visits to the symphony with his mother and father, that he gained an appreciation of classical music. And, in a fortuitous twist of fate, as a child, he was introduced to folk music through his babysitter, a young singer-songwriter, from the neighborhood, Joan Baez. To choose a favorite between art and music, Rob says, “They’re not really separable in some ways; I think that I’m better at the music than the art.”
In elementary school, Rob was given the opportunity to participate in band, and after exploring the available instruments, he decided that the trombone was the one for him, which he continued to play throughout his high school career. It was in these early years that he discovered his natural artistic ability, as he, and another boy, were chosen to complete a project for Thanksgiving, “painting Indians and Pilgrims.” He describes the work as, “One of my first lessons in collaborative art, because he made his smaller than mine, so it looked kind of dorky.”
As a teenager, Rob was inspired by the bands, Pink Floyd, The Who, Jethro Tull, and guitar idol, Eric Clapton. And with musically rich San Francisco nearby, he spent many evenings at Grateful Dead shows, and began to see music “as being either disciplined and rigid, or free-form and cool.” It was then that he knew that he had to have a guitar.
Of his first guitar, a Christmas present from his mother, Rob says, “It was a Takamine beginner guitar, with a plywood top. In retrospect, the tone probably wasn’t all that great, but to me it was fabulous!” Though largely self-taught, he does confess to “possibly buying a chord book, once.”
Upon his high school graduation, Rob began working at the Stanford Press, until a serious injury to his finger halted his employment. Fortunately, the mishap didn’t adversely affect his guitar playing or artistic ability, but, Rob was at a point in his life where he was unsure of his direction. He enrolled in college, but left after a few semesters. A short while later, he moved from California to Texas, and then from Texas to Oregon, finally settling in Eugene, where he completed his B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Oregon. The only constant things, through all of these moves were his guitar and his art.
Drawing, painting and ceramics are some of the mediums that Rob has experimented with, but, it is through digital photography and digital collage that he has found his true artist passion. Musically, through years of nightly gigs in smoky bars, Rob honed his skill as a guitar player, and has come to realize that the dichotomy that he set up for music, all those years ago, wasn’t entirely accurate: Free-form and cool takes a lot of hard work and discipline.
Rob, is married, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where he continues to pursue his love of art and music. He is currently doing singer/songwriter stuff, all original music.