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“Canadian Circuitry”, Around The World Series, No. 95

21 Oct

I found the house out in Athens, GA while out in Chicago. It was through a Facebook page my sister was on, in where the girl was leaving for Summer break and needed someone to rent it out. I was quite nervous, because in my head I had created Athens as nothing more than a small southern town with small southern minds.. which is just not the case (but my fear and the past had manifested itself in such strange and imaginary ways that I could not even begin to process it).

When Dani Ela and I had first talked on the phone I was incredibly wary until she told me she was from Vancouver.

“Oh Jesus you are from Canada. Thank god”, I said.

The house was off of Easy Street in an area called Normaltown. Dani and her husband Thor were so incredibly cool. While they were only here for a few weeks (before they left the entire house to myself) my time with them was incredible. There are memories of us late at night underneath the candlelight of their screened-in porch laughing and playing music with their friends…. and one memory in particular was the massive showering rainstorm that shot down through the southern sky into our town. Dani and I ran out in the rain screaming and laughing while the sorority beginner house across the street looked at us like we were insane.

I was fascinated with them, so much that my already budding curiosity of Canada, spread like wild kudzu across my brain. Dani and Thor talked about Vancouver with me as much as they could.. and when they left I began to study Canada for weeks. In that old white house, on the screened-in porch, I painted alone for weeks. What once held the laughter and music from my housemates was now replaced with the soft night wind intermixed with the distilled humming of a discordant orchestra of crickets and cicadas.

I silently navigated myself socially through Athens in the daytime that summer, often through working the AM shifts at The Last Resort Grill. In the evenings I would spend time with my sister and her husband in their cool modern style home that resembled a romance between Franklin Lloyd Wright and Tennessee Williams. In the evenings however, when I’d take off my backpack and change out of my soiled waiter clothes… I’d sit there on the porch alone and paint my dreams of Canada.

This piece is called “Canadian Circuitry”, and without the help of Dani and Thor, this conception would never exist. In this painting, I have created a home for each city in each province. Each city describes a certain portion of the area and its surroundings. There are green avenues which relate to the parks and forests that are near each area. In Mickey’s face are the other cities that held a high population, as well as the territories of Canada.

This is the last of the “Around the World” Collection and resides as No. 95 in the series of 100 for TENxTENxTEN.

 

 

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“Bem Vindo Ao Brasil”, Around The World Series, No. 86

22 Apr

Bem Vindo Ao Brasil 14x14

Out in San Francisco in 2001, even before I attempted at being an artist again, I worked out in a restaurant near Union Square. I’d spend my nights working in this tourist trap of a corporate food haven, hang up my apron, and head home 7 blocks to my apartment in the densely packed part of the Tenderloin. I lived in a walk in closet for $447.50 dollars a month, which laid on the 5th floor off of Geary Street. The great thing about this place, was our apartment was on the top floor, and outside our window laid the fire escape that led to the rooftop.

A fellow waitress of mine was one of my favorite people in the city. Her name was Carol and she was from Rio De Janeiro. Often, she and I would close together and we’d grab our shift meal from the restaurant, walk up the hill to my building, through my apartment, and up on the roof. She’d tell me about her home in Rio, and teach me Brazilian Portuguese while we would lay watching the fog roll downwards into the South of Market District.

She’d say “San Francisco is my heart in America, this building reminds me of home” and then would talk about her adventures out in the discotheques and her job that she had on the beaches of Ipanema. It was here where I fell in love with the culture of Rio through her stories, and became obsessive about learning about the city.

Thirteen years later I ended up on a clothing line project for a swimwear company that asked me to be their lead artist for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. I ended up studying again on Carol’s city, often nostalgically  remembering our conversations and the lost connection I had with her after she left back home.

I ended up moving from Las Vegas and out to Chicago, where I would spend the cooling autumn months in my tiny apartment to configure these designs… and I was left with such a void, as my concentration was just with the city of Rio.

I wanted to know more.

Fast forward the completion of the project, and into the Spring… and I was to move again, this time back home to Georgia in a small town called Athens. I just finished “Know Where”, a Sketchwave series piece that went over my time at Comic-Con in San Diego to my travels back home in my temporary summer sublet off of Easy Street in Normaltown.. and recollected on where I felt a void in my storyline.

Brazil was my void, and it was perfect because I was two shy of completing the “Around The World Series”.

I sought to fill this artistic gap by just not talking about Carol’s city, but the entire country of Brazil. It was here where I created the piece “Bem Vindo Ao Brasil” (Welcome to Brazil), and went through, piece by piece about this country.

In this painting, I have created anchor spots for the two major cities, Rio De Janeiro, and São Paulo. In Rio you will see major points to the city like Avenida Atlântica, Carnaval, Corcovado, Banco Do Brasil, and Pão De Açucar. In São Paulo you will notice Avenida Paulista, Higienópolis, Bela Vista, MOOCA, Rua Augusta, and more. The beaches of both Ipanema and Praia Grande rest above these cities as well. In the green portions you will see the major forests of Brazil such as Passaquatro, Xie, Caxiuanã, Taragua, Amazonas, Xingu, and others. In the black of Mickey’s ears are other cities of Brazil like Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Curitiba, João Pessoa, and more. Above the Mickey head is the country flag of Brazil which states “Ordem E Progresso” (“Order and Progress”).

Of course, finishing this piece while satisfying my curiosity through basic research, only opened up a larger gap of what I long to learn. I hope in the future years I’ll be able to visit the various towns of Brazil and fully appreciate not only my painting of the piece, but the stories of Carol which were told on my rooftop those lovely fall nights out in San Francisco so long ago.

 

 

“Mikki No Sekai”, Around the World Series, No. 78

24 Oct

Mikki No Sekai

 

Japan has always been such an intriguing country to me in so many ways. From their cultural practices, art aesthetic, entertainment, language, and history, Japan wrapped up into one painting became incredibly difficult for me to paint. I would say it was difficult not only for the complexity of it’s vast cultural circuitry, but also I had not seen it with my own eyes. Regardless, this piece is called “Mikki No Sekai” which stands for “World of Mickey”, and I’ve focused a high saturation geometric pattern concept inside his face, that bursts out from either end in a display of colorful linear webs. On either side of his face is both a television that references a portion of their entertainment culture, and a Mickey Mouse hat that represents the park in Tokyo. On every corner lies a sea of cherry blossoms (Sakura), which contain the city of Tokyo underneath, and Mt. Fuji above his face.

This was one of the only pieces of the TENxTENxTEN collection that was painted in my artist residency which was in a shipping container out in Las Vegas, NV. “Mikki No Sekai” is a part of the “Around the World” chapter, and resides as number 88 in the collection.

“Mehandi Mickey”, Around the World Series, No. 47

17 Mar

Mehandi Mickey

Mehandi (or Mehndi) is a form of Indian and Nepalese skin decoration using henna ink, lemon juice, and white sugar. Traditionally the use of Mehandi is for weddings and festivals such as Diwali, Bhaidooj, Teej, Karva Chauth, etc. Most commonly these designs are found on the hands and feet because of the lack of melanin in the skin in these areas. The idea of Mehandi is of a Vedic custom, and is an art form representing the “awakening of inner light”

This piece is entitled “Mehandi Mickey”, and falls into the “Around the World Series” representing India. In this painting, I infused designs from traditional mid twentieth century Mehandi design books that were intended for ceremonial use. Historically the symbols in this piece translate the following

  1. Flowers: Joy and happiness
  2. Leaves and Vines: Devotion, perseverance, vitality
  3. Flowers from the Fishes Mouth: Love at first sight
  4. Checkerboard: Moments and memories of joy.
  5. Eyes: Symbols to ward off ‘the evil eye”
  6. Zig-Zags: Abundance and wealth
  7. Peacock: Beauty

Also, there is two Mickey Mouse hats speaking in speech bubbles the symbols of flowers translating the ‘joy and happiness’ that Mickey Mouse creates.

Each sector of this piece has colors that connect with each other. The background is red with black drawings with white accents. The border of Mickey has a black background with white drawings with red accents. The face contains a white background with red drawings with black accents. This represents the common thread of intertwined continuity, representing that our character is not alone, but connected to every person, place, and thing in this world.

Hidden in this piece are also words in Sanskrit for love, happiness, and Mickey Mouse.

United States of Mickey, Around The World Series, No. 33

11 Oct

Last month I went to New York City to get some inspiration for the “Metropolitan Series” for the TENxTENxTEN project. It had been almost 10 years since I had been back, so my mind was virtually blank when it came any kind of inspiration or possible idea for the piece. I think the last time I was in NYC I had just re-emerged my desires to be a painter, so my thought processes and understanding to convert my visual landscape into a project were at best minimal, if at all, existing in the first place.

I was staying with an old friend that I knew from San Francisco that had recently moved to the Upper West Side in Manhattan. He had somehow secured tickets to a Wanda Sykes comedy show, and invited me along to see her perform. We rode over to the brightly lit and jam packed tourist epicenter of NYC in Times Square over to the VIACOM building, and waited in line for a bit. While in queue, we came to realization through various sources of information from people around us, that

1. This was a live taping
2. This technically wasn’t a comedy show

What we were actually attending was LOGO Channel’s “New, Now, Next Vote”, a political program “aimed to educate, activate and entertain viewers, while shining a spotlight on the state of national politics through an LGBT lens.” We were part of the guest audience of the live taping. It was a great show, filled with some incredible people (including Rep Barney Frank). The debates were very entertaining and informing, and I was … for the most part trying to be an active participant, but… was having somewhat of a difficult time paying attention because of one detail of the entire show.

Being that we were in the audience, we were faced towards not only Wanda Sykes and the political speakers in the show, but also the massive window behind them that looked over Times Square. Behind the window was this massive video billboard that aired a 3 second clip that kept on repeating. It showed Obama, then Romney followed by stripes and stars from the American flag flying across their faces. While the whole show was happening, I was mostly engaged, but at the same time I was transfixed by calculating the amount of times the clip repeated over and over again. For instance, since the clip was 3 seconds, I couldn’t help but think that the clip played 20 times in a minute, or 200 times in ten minutes. And since we were there for 2 hours and 14 minutes, that… the clip played 2,680 times. Not did I end up doing that, but then I started calculating the times that Obama and Romney appeared .vs. the stars and stripes. Obama and Romney had 2 seconds of time, stripes and stars had 1/2 a second each, meaning that in 2 hours and 14 minutes, the candidates appeared on the screen 4,020 times, and the stars and stripes shown against our faces 16,080 times.

And this my friends, was why I was in special ed classes for most of my life.

Because this screen was going on and on, my head transported into ideas of doing a Mickey head. I had already done a Mickey previously for Disney Fine Art in the realm of Americana, which was called “Mickeymerica” (Limited Editions available on DisneyFineArt.com/TennesseeLoveless) back in 2011, which was selected as the official July 4th print for that year. I wanted to do the same format, but in the realm that was similar to the repetitive screen happening. In the screen the stripes were cold and the stars were warm, which clearly were the reversal of the traditional color format of the American flag. This suddenly became the direction for the new work.

This piece is number 38 in the collection, and the 5th in the series, marking the halfway mark for this sector of the project. It is called “United States of Mickey”, and represents America for the project.

 

“Dia De Los Mouseos, Execution Dos”, Around The World Series, No. 32

26 Sep

 

 

The first piece, “Dia De Los Mouseos, Execution Uno”, was more on the approach as ‘a study on skulls’. This piece, entitled “Dia De Los Mouseos, Execution Dos”, was far more intricate in detail, and as my hand got used to the drawing and redrawing of the skulls, the individual pieces became more complex along the way. I decided to get some inspiration on where I first learned of “Dia De Los Muertos” (Day of The Dead), and traveled 381 miles North to San Francisco to focus heavily on this painting, and how I could make it more balanced. You would think that I would be traveling to the border instead, but I’ve found that most Day of the Dead art was more heavily saturated in San Francisco. I may say this because SF is far more compact and therefore visually saturated than any Californian city, but I digress… I just traveled to where this holiday and cultural tradition would make sense from a nostalgic standpoint, as well a well connected cultural reference point for the piece.

When I had first moved from San Francisco from Georgia (and my eleven month stay in Philadelphia), I had little to no education on Mexican culture. In fact, being raised in Georgia, which was predominantly African-American and Caucasian, I had very little contact and information of Mexican or any other race out there. When I had moved to SF, I was heavily saturated in Mexican , Chinese, Russian, and Japanese culture upon impact. My lack of knowledge left me feeling quite uneducated and insecure, so I sought to educate myself on other races and their traditions.

In the first week of November, the Dia De Los Muertos festival began in the Mission district of San Francisco. The streets glittered with decorated skulls, stilt walkers, coffins, and people dressed with sugar skull make up on their faces. November 1st was the first day, which is entitled as “Dia De Los Angelitos” (Day of the Little Angels) or more commonly “Dia De Los Inocentes” (Day of the Innocents) which honors the children and infants who have deceased. November 2nd is Dia De Los Muertos, which celebrates and honors the adults who have passed away. Music blared all through the night while parades of costumes flamboyantly danced around the main drag of the district. I was transfixed and overwhelmed with the beautiful process.  I had never seen something so elaborately done for most of my life and my normal tepid southern white upbringing. Comparatively my mediocre caucasian traditions paled  to anything as eccentric and homage filled as I was seeing. And from that year on, I made a concerted effort to continue to watch from the side lines this incredible parade pass by.

So four years later since living in Los Angeles, I sought to return to my Californian stomping grounds and remember first hand about that time and the art that surrounds the city over this incredible holiday.

I carried this piece around all over San Francisco. This was drawn at:

8th and Natoma, South of Market
Sparky’s Diner, Church St
Columbus and Greene: Little Italy
22nd and Valencia: Mission District
19th and Mission: Mission District
Union Square Park

In transit:
J train (MUNI) to Dolores Park
M train (MUNI) to Castro
South San Francisco train (BART) to 24th and Mission

This painting belongs to the “Around The World” sector, and focuses itself as an homage to Mexico and its culture/traditions. Each skull is decorated like a traditional Day Of the Dead Calavera (Sugar Skull), and EACH one has a tiny story and personality attached to it. Put together, all of these tiny pieces come together in one massive story and collection to form Mickey Mouse’s face.

“Stay Calm and Dream On”, Around The World Series, No. 28

31 Aug

Originally this idea came from a popular picture that was circulating the internet (ie: meme) that began to interest the public in both domains of the web and consumer goods. “Keep Calm and Carry On”, which is the original phrase was issued as a poster in August of 1939 during World War II by the “Ministry of Information” in The United Kingdom. There were two others which were ” Freedom Is In Peril, Defend It WIth All Your Might”  and “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory”. These three posters were issued to the public to inspire the British people and raise the country’s spirit during the first few weeks of war which were deemed times to demoralize the British population.

Sixty one years later in 2000 the poster was reissued at a shop in Alnwick, Northumberland with medium success, however in 2009 is when the phrase and design had reached epic levels of distribution both through products and internet usage. This spread of the meme was due to the public’s panic in the UK over being in dire straits over the then (and current) global economic dilemma.

This piece, entitled “Stay Calm and Dream On” is a part of the “Around The World” series which represents the United Kingdom. This painting, much like the original concept of the poster, is meant to produce the same effect of comfort and raising of the spirit. In times of great distress, especially to those of artistic integrity and/or thick imaginations, some times all we have are our dreams to turn to, to spark our wills to make a difference. In this instance, Mickey is the face to take us back to our childhood, when we were a young army of dreamers, when we believed we could conquer our troubles, when we believed in ourselves,

…and most of all, .. when we believed we could make a difference in a scary and often troublesome world.