It started while Waller was living
in Houston, Texas. He had lived there for 11 years, was married,
had a house and a son, Bruce. But after a nasty divorce, Waller
said he was left wondering where he fit in and what he was supposed
to be doing with his life.
"I was lost without her (my wife)," he said. Then one
day he was sitting out by I-10 West in Houston and he asked himself
the question, "What's at the end of I-10?"
He decided to "draw" his way to find to find the answer
to his question. Finally after three months of hitch hiking and
drawing for food, Waller got the answer to his question. He said
he found a cup of joe at the end of his journey.
Upon his return to Houston, Waller said his friends turned their
backs on him because of the divorce.
"I figured I'd spent 11 years here and I was nobody. I could
be nobody anywhere" he said. So Waller set out to find where
he would fit in. He asked himself "what if all I had was a
piece of paper and a pencil?"
And so it began, Waller's continuous blended drawing of what he
sees and the people he meets and his inner journey to find where
he belongs. His drawing is aptly named - Finding Nevermore. Waller's
plan is to let his visions and dreams guide him. "I follow
different visions and ideas. Anytime I'm in one place too long,
I might start to self destruct," he said. "It's all about
So far, his dreams and visions have taken him from Kissimmee, Florida
to Earnest Hemingway's house in the Florida Keys, then all the way
up to Steven King's house in Maine. Each leg of the journey was
decided on a dream or vision he had. Waller wound his way around
the east coast by hitch hiking and drawing to earn his food. Each
step is documented in his continuous drawing. The pages depict a
different scene of places he has been stranded and people he met
along the way. The drawings also contain the signatures of people
that became part of the art.
"I tell people if they want to be famous they can sign my
artwork," Waller said.
Also sprinkled throughout the art are notes to Waller's son Bruce,
family and friends. Along the way, Waller has left a little piece
of himself in every town he stops in. He does various painting jobs
for people on the side and sometimes just sits in a restaurant or
on a corner and draws. "People will come up to me and ask me
to draw them or offer to buy me a meal if I draw them something,"
Waller said that if art is not what he's doing, then he shouldn't
waste his time. "God will replenish me," he said. "It's
in the art or it doesn't exist"
While in Maine, Waller had a vision of Elvis. He decided Graceland
would be his next destination - and that he'd document his journey
in his drawings. "It's not getting from point A to point B
- it's what's in between," Waller said.
While making his way south he stopped in Worcester, Massachutes.
Waller met a junkyard owner named J.B. He supplied Waller with his
wings - a 1990 Chevy Corsica. Waller spent nearly a year there,
the longest he'd spent anywhere so far.
While on his mission to complete the longest drawing ever Waller
said he's run into several people who have tried to convince him
to stick around and take a job wherever he's at. But as Waller put
it, "I want to live outside the box and don't want to get sucked
into the computer."
Waller was not always the wondering artistic nomad he has come
to be. Born and raised in Fayetteville, he joined the army in the
late 1970s. He got out in 1981 when he realized army life wasn't
for him. That was when Waller embarked on his first hitch hiking
voyage across the country, ending in California. When he returned
to North Carolina, he called a friend in Texas and left for Houston
the next day.
"I showed up there with 16 cents in my pocket," he said.
That began his 11 years of domestic life - all of which led him
to where he is now. After leaving Massachutes several weeks ago,
Waller returned to Fayetteville once again for rest and to get his
From here, his plan is to go to Graceland, first stopping in Atlanta
to visit his friend Moby. "No journey would be complete without
seeing the Big white Whale," he said.
Then it's on to visit the King of Rock 'n Roll. Although Waller
allows his dreams to dictate the next city he ends up in, his big
plan includes drawing Bruce Lee's tomb in Seattle and the San Francisco
Bridge, "the ultimate bridge," he said.
Waller said the journey is getting better everyday. "I can
go exactly where I want. The art is producing itself," he said.
Ultimately, Waller hopes to become part of the Guinness Book of
World Records for the longest continuous drawing. Currently, the
drawing is 110 feet long and there's no end in sight.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I wasn't sure what to expect when I first spoke
to Jefferson Waller on the phone. He came into my office with an
armful of drawings. After talking with him, I felt like I had been
with him on his journey. I got to see every place he'd been and
the people he met along the way. Also sprinkled throughout the drawing
were people's signatures and messages. I felt like I was invading
his personal journal by reading the different passages. It was all
very incredible. Some messages and drawing brought tears to my eyes,
others made me laugh, still others really made me feel like I was
sitting at Denny's with him drawing. I must admit, I admire Jefferson
for having the guts to do what so many of us only dream about. Good
Luck Jefferson and keep in touch.
~~ Heather Middleton, Editor, Up & Coming Magazine