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“San Frangeles Las Chicagathens”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 99

27 Oct

Number 99

A few years ago that number seemed to elusive to me, like a fish slippery from the grip. It was 2012 and I was living out in the warm lights of Los Feliz in Los Angeles. At the time I had only finished 20 of these pieces, and while I was more determined than overwhelmed with the prospect of this project, the idea… that number 99 would ever exist as a piece in this collection, just seemed strange to me.

Where would I be living? Where would I have traveled? What would have happened in between No. 20 and No. 99 that would further change me?

I decided to carry one blank Mickey canvas with me throughout my journey. I would use this canvas to wipe off my paint from the other pieces over the years and it would carry the weight of all the other paintings that I had created. This piece would travel all over the world with me, and in essence, number 99 would carry the collective residue of the entire TENxTENxTEN collection.

This piece was worked on in every city that I visited and lived in, and in the end… 5 years later… I finally drew on top of it with the collective memories of my time with this project.

The blog within Mickey Mouse’s face states:

“North Atlanta // January 31st, 2016:

In a soap factory 2 miles from where I grew up as a child. Growing up here I would have not known that my life would 1 day revolve around art, but never did I think that I’d get to work with Mickey Mouse.

Flight at L2 – LAS (interpretation: ATL – LAX – LAS)

..but here we are at the end of 10x10x10, and what a journey it has been. This piece in particular is special b/c its been with me since L.A. I’ve used it as a palette 4(for) years.

Next Day. Las Vegas. Feb 1st 7:26 AM. (yawn)

I worked out in the desert in ’14. I was working in a metal shipping container in downtown Las Vegas and at night at the front of the space was a metal praying mantis that would shoot flames out of his antennas. It was crazy. This piece here was with me in that space and time. Returning back is both bittersweet and magical.

Kind of like Art.

Kind of like Las Vegas.

Athens, GA. February 10th

Hello. Hello. Hello. Moving back to Chicago (yay). I’ve come to the END of 10x10x10 and found myself in a whole new world of ART.

Thank You

Thank You

Thank You

From the bottom of my HEART.”

This piece closes off the “Loveless Letters” series, and resides as No. 99 in the TENxTENxTEN collection.

“Alles Ist Wundershön”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 68

16 Nov

Alles Ist Wunderschon

 

I came back to Berlin from Paris feeling very sad. I had just spent an incredible week filled with painting in the daytime and dancing in the evenings, that returning to a place where I really didn’t know anyone on a personal level, made me quite melancholy.

I was afraid that I was going to lose that drive to create something when I returned, but I found that quite the opposite happened. I’m not sure whether it was that I had finally gotten over the 9 hour time difference and jet lag, but my experience of Berlin the 2nd time around was completely different. I had fallen in love with the city. It was like I was seeing the same thing, but my eyes had completely unfocused and refocused to see the picture differently. The people were different, the food tasted different, and the weight of my feet as they walked down the street was different. Everything seemed to open up like awakening calyx, and all of it was wonderful.

Now I understood why Berlin was called the “Belle Epoque” for our generation. Everything was happening there. At every second of the day, everything creative was happening.. and it was a different kind of creativity that I had never experienced. It was as if all the stars in the sky were aligned with this city, and all of the heavens were pouring into the city streets at every moment. The city was alive with the world at its fingertip, and being in that moment.. in that city, it felt like I was alive for the first moment of my life…. not just breathing and telling time.. but actual living… beyond my mental scope.

I did the same thing I did in Paris. I painted wherever I could. I carried my rolled up canvases on the U-bahn and traveled to the most random of places to paint. Curry Wurst vendor stands, coffee houses, and restaurants… even just on the streets. I painted in Schöneberg, Mitte, Kreuzberg, Neukölln, and Prenzlauerberg. Sometimes I even just rode the U-bahn for hours with no destination but just a stop to get off and experience things new.

I decided to create a piece based on that awakening, and that vision of the universe pouring itself into the city. This piece is called “Alles Ist Wunderschön”, which means “Everything is Wonderfully Beautiful”. Each building tells an intricate story of the city and my time there. There are names here of people I met like Sammy and Josh from the East London restaurant.. where I did a lot of my painting there, to Sergio and his puppy Oscar… to my hosts Chantal and Gary (and their children Mira and Elliot).. who I met in Echo Park at the diner.. and thats how I found a place to stay in Berlin. There are names of districts and U-bahn stops all over this map as well. And of course little things I experienced like the hearing the church bells ring every hour, to the protests and marches over the country’s elections, down to the simplest things… like the overwhelming amount of bees that swarmed around the pastry shops and attacked the pastries I was eating. Everything was a integral experience of my time there in Berlin, and when I left back to Los Angeles.. I felt a little lost, and yet a bit found at the same time.

Berlin changed a lot of things for me, and not all of them were immediate. Even as I type these words the changes inside me are still happening, and I think for a long time these changes will still continue to go on.

Inside this Mickey head reads.

“Mehringdamm and Yorkstraße, Berlin,

Germany, October, 3rd, 2013

Everything is wonderful here in Berlin. The streets are alive with art here in Kreuzberg. At night the avenues fill up with thousands of starry eyed people laughing and cajoling with each other. They shake off the cold weather and grey clouds and run into the night with their arms open wide to embrace all that the city has to offer. The floodgate in my heart is open here and I cannot for the life of me stop painting. I carry this painting wherever I go here. From Warschauerstraße to Mitte to Neukölln to Prenzlauerberg and beyond. Sometimes I just ride on the u-bahn for hours with no destination in mind just to get hopelessly lost to find myself. And I have. I have! I have found myself. I came here to Berlin as a stranger, a lost kid amongst the stars. I leave this place as a person found, a person now hungry for the universe and all its wonder. I can breathe here. My soul and lungs are full of stardust here. I am alive here in Berlin. I am awake and its wunderbar.”

This is the 9th in the Loveless Letters series, and 78th in the TENxTENxTEN collection

“Mon Cœur Électrique”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 67

14 Nov

Mon Cœur Électrique

 

I arrived to Paris ORLY from Schönefeld in Berlin. I had spent a week in Berlin because I had heard it was the ‘Belle Epoque” for artists. I flew to Berlin to find something hidden in my head, as other artists claimed that if you wanted to expand your visual understanding of things, well.. Berlin was the place….. and while I found much inspiration in that city, I felt the need to reconnect back to Paris to see, … just see if there was something more to this “Belle Epoque” idea. 
 
The minute I got off the plane, something in my head and chest began to tingle. It was almost as if there was this tuning fork in my body that someone (or something) hit inside of me. Visions of work started flipping through my brain like an out of control zoetrope. I ran through the airport to the metro and took the train to my friends apartment in Northern Paris. 
 
When I arrived to Txeo and Romain’s flat, I immediately threw down my luggage and rolled out my canvas to paint. It was the strangest sensation. It was one of the first times where I was so overloaded with an idea that I had to get it out as soon as I could. The next day I took the painting all over the city. I painted on the street with my art book as my easel, and sat down on the street corners of Le Marais, Marcedet de Poissonniers, and Barbes Rocheouart. I painted on the steps of Sacre Cœur in Montmartre, as well as the concrete field of the Centre De Pompidou. I painted in cafés, restaurants, but most of all I painted on the street. 
 
This piece is a loveless letters painting that goes over that emotion of being overwhelmed with inspiration. In each corner there is a skull that represents a part of the body and the natural occurrence that attaches to it. 
 
1. NW. Mon Esprit (My Mind)- Speech = La Tempete Électrique (Thunder Storm)
2. NE. Ma Voix (My Voice)- Speech = Ouragan (Hurricane)
3. SW. Mon Cœur (My Heart)- Speech = La Foudre (Lightning)
4. SE.Mon Âme (My Soul)- Speech = Seisme (Earthquake)
 
Here is some additional information on the piece:
 
Left Side Background- These are the directions that I wrote to get to my flat. It says “METRO RER (B) to GARE DU NORD to METRO 4 to SIMPLON.
 
Upper Background- While it rained in Paris, it was not depressing. Rain at times saddens me beyond belief because I was oversaturated with it in Seattle (Seriously.. 18 months in Seattle and it rained  a total of 15 months of that time.. sometimes nonstop for 90 days.. and thats taken the … love of rain away for me 🙂 ). There are clouds that are raining, but they are raining symbols that I’ve taken in. The clouds say “Connect here because wonderment never ceases”
 
Right Background- It says “Inside all of us are these tuning forks and certain places in the world hit us in the most mysterious ways.. to let us know in vibes where we belong”
 
Lower Background- It says “In from the heart and out into the world” as well as “Espoir” which means ‘Hope” in French.
 
Here is the blog inside Mickey’s head.
 
“Arrondissement XVIII, September XXV, 2013
 
You can feel it in the air here in Paris. I can’t explain it. It is like this subtle vibration. You can feel it in your bones. Something exists here but what it is I cannot tell. I arrived from Schönefeld to ORLY and rode the metro to Simplon, and on the train my head began to create visions of work. It is here where I dream best… underneath the thick metropolitan French clouds. There are thousands of pictures rotating in my heart like an overloaded washing machine. I never want to leave here. Some of us I feel were born in the wrong place for a reason, like.. we are falling stars of meteors that just landed in the wrong spots, and we our whole lives we travel to find out where we were supposed to land. Maybe thats the vibration.. its a signal for home.
 
Or maybe I just have the flu”
 
On the outskirt of the painting (which you cannot see here), there is another piece that says:
 
” This painting started on a friday afternoon in the 18th arrondissement in Paris, France. It conspired in a 5th floor residence off of Ornano st, near Simplon Metro. In the history of this project, I have never had such a fire lit underneath me. Every city I have been in, in my life has never affected me as much. I initially came to Berlin to feel something, become one with the Belle Epoque, but I found it here, underneath the floorboards of this Parisian Apartment.”
 
I also drew the front and back of my 5 day metro pass to its exact detail.
 
I left back to Berlin with my heart fully aching. Although I had finished the piece in Paris, I felt that a week wasn’t enough time to get what was in my head out. This piece is an amulet of my experience there, and I can only hope that one day I will have the opportunity to return to incorporate a body of work that this city of Paris inspires. I am truly in love with that city. I cannot tell you enough how much a love it. 

“Susquehanna”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 64

28 Sep

560O0108C Susquehanna 14X14

Travel is what moves me.

I spend many hours of my life in my apartment sitting at a drafting table to create these pieces. Being an artist can be quite lonely, and with all the hours of the day that rise through the sun and pass through the moon, I find myself desperate to inhale inspiration from my apartment walls to breathe out imagination in my work. After returning to Los Angeles from San Francisco, I felt myself quite frustrated with my predicament. I walked around Los Feliz with my pieces and felt ultimately blocked from anything to burst from my fingertips through my brushes.

I wish I could be that artist who could find inspiration in a stationary state, but my mind refuses to work like that. I have to be consistently in a state of visual immersion to feel something. I am always… just trying to feel something.

I saved up all the money I could from the job at the diner, and planned flights across the United States. I knew that if I took myself out of my own environment, the clockwork in my brain would begin to work ,and the gears in my head would eventually sync up with the gears up in the stars.. and I would think again.

This piece started in a little restaurant in the middle of Curtis Park in Denver, Colorado. I was arriving in town to speak with a gallery about a possible piece about Denver. I sat there struggling to come up with an idea.. and watched two women enter my vicinity. The woman was talking about her boyfriend and how their astrological signs did not match up. She said to her friend, “Oh.. he and I just don’t match astrologically… we are just trouble written in the stars”

Suddenly, like a cannon blast, my brain shot forward through my heart, and a thousand images split and multiplied in front my eyes within a quick second. My hand shot forward with my brush against the canvas, and just like that, I found myself painting something in Mickey’s left ear. What came to fruition was a picture of the galaxy. I drew the woman as the constellation of Andromeda, with circular shapes and dots representing the ‘trouble written in the stars’ around her.

What I realized at that point, was that other locations were not the only beacons of inspiration to jumpstart my imagination, but that other people were as well. This piece suddenly became like a sounding board of other people’s fascinating and intricate lives, both eavesdropped and personally conversed. I wanted to finally paint a piece about the strangers I encountered and how their words transpired visions across the map of Mickey himself.

Here are the explanations below:

1. Left ear to forehead: Previous explanation of “trouble written in the stars”, Diamond represents strength.

2. Right ear: At the Denver Art Museum (DAM) I watched two young men complain about an abstract expressionism piece involving simple displays of circles and lines. One of them said “I don’t get it. I just don’t get the circles. I don’t know how this is called art. This makes me feel stupid”. Underneath the ear are dripping patterns representing rain in Los Angeles. A woman was talking to herself  on Edgemont and Hollywood Blvd about how she purposely moved away from the Pacific Northwest to escape the weather, and how she felt the rain was following her.

3. Background // Conversation Bubbles: Two women in a Echo Park diner in Los Angeles were talking about their friends. One girl said “I can’t tell if three of my friends have multiple personality disorders or whether they are just dedicated actors” I chose three characters and multiplied their poses in the speech bubbles”.

4. Background // Right // Left // Mountains: I drew these in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I sparked a conversation with friends about the overwhelming beauty of Denver, and it began this long conversation about American mountain culture.

5. Background // Bottom // Clouds: In Anaheim California during the D23 convention, a woman burst sashaying with her friend through the gallery where I was painting. She said “Oh… you haven’t been to the Southwest?? Oh you just have to go. The skies in the Southwest are spectacular. And as soon as she said this, she was sashaying away to another space, This phrase resonated a memory of a song called “Little Fluffy Clouds” by The Orb, and I immediately started drawing clouds.

6. Background // Upper Left // Cloud + Lightbulb: While painting the clouds at the D23 convention in Anaheim, California.. a child came up to me and asked me how I painted clouds. She didn’t believe that I painted them. I showed her a live demonstration on how a cloud is painted. She then asked me to paint lightning.. to which I painted a light bulb popping out underneath it. She asked me “Why did you do that?” and I replied “Lightning is just someone up there testing on the light switch for us”

7.  Background // Upper Right // Skulls: This was a test of a Lichtenstein dot pattern. This was going to be left blank until I heard a conversation in a cafe in the Adams Morgan District of Washington D.C. A couple was talking about Dia De Los Muertos, and how the East Coast didn’t properly represent it. The woman said to her boyfriend “Well if you are ever going to see it right, .. you have to visit Tijuana or somewhere San Francisco’ish”.

8. Background // Middle Right // BELLE EPOQUE: In a restaurant in DuPont Circle in Washington D.C. I was having coffee with Leslie Combemale of Art Insights, a gallery out in the D.C. Metro//Virginia area. When she asked me why I was traveling to Berlin, I mentioned in my awful version of French that it was the “Belle Epoque” for artists in this era. Laughing at my terrible French, she corrected me and then said “Oh, now… you must put this on the canvas”.

9. Tongue: TRAVEL TICKET. This is the epicenter of the piece, mentioning of my travel ticket to find inspiration.

10. Clouds within the face // Eyes: HWY 431 was the highway that I wrote down to get to a specific town in Pennsylvania that I missed. The cat and rocket and coffee cup represented “Rocket Cat Cafe” in Fishtown in Philadelphia.. where I went to pick up my keys to the place I was staying in. Eggs represent the food that I ate in a diner in New Jersey later on that week, and scissors represent the tools I used for a project.

11. Clouds within the face // Upper left side: The skull represented me being happy about being back in Philadelphia.. a place I used to live. I smelled flowers outside in the garden of the complex I lived in.

12. Clouds within the face // Lower left side: My friends took me out roller skating in New Jersey one night in where a good friend and I skated together to live organ music among the colorful Northeastern crowd in skating costumes. We then drove to a diner and laughed about the past and living in Philly.

13. Clouds within the face // Upper right side: This was also directions I was writing down in case I was going to take my rental car to my next destination, New York City.

14. Clouds within the face // Lower right side:  I decided against the idea of driving to New York City, and instead I wrote down the directions to get there via the old way I used to when I lived in Philly. I took the blue line headed to 69th street from Berk Station (Fishtown) to another station (Center City), and transferred to a train north to Trenton, New Jersey, to get on ANOTHER train (NJ transit N.E. corridor line) to Penn Station // NYC.

In the end I wrote, like all the other pieces in the Loveless Letters section, a history of the piece. It reads:

“WASHINGTON D.C. // PHILADELPHIA

It all started with a conversation in a restaurant in Denver, Colorado. A young woman next to me said that her love and her were ‘trouble written in the stars’.. so I drew the concept in the ear. This piece is about other people’s words all over the U.S. and how people’s words can change the course of our lives and our art.  Everything is directional. Nothing is frozen. Everything is happening NOW”

This piece is entitled “Susquehanna”, which was the street in Philadelphia where this piece was finalized. If you look at the circles in the piece, you will find all the places of where I transcribed the power of peoples words into this creation.

– D23 Expo, Anaheim, CA

– 23rd/Fairmont, Philadelphia, PA

– Hollywood Blvd/Edgemont Street, Los Angeles, CA

– 28th and Race Street, Denver, Colorado

– 16th and Tremont Street, Denver, Colorado

– 25th and Gilpin Street, Denver, Colorado

– Melrose and Fairfax, Los Angeles, California

– Franklin near the 101 HWY, Los Angeles, California

– New Hampshire and T Street, Washington D.C.

This is the 7th in the Loveless Letters Series, and 73rd in the TENxTENxTEN collection.

“Ozark Diamonds”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 55

28 Jul

Ozark Diamonds

 

Atlanta was the city that I wanted to live in when I grew up. I used to look out my bay window as a child in Marietta, and watch the lights from the hill grow as the years grew by… and that glow was from the city of Atlanta expanding towards us. Decades later, now living in the largest glowing city of America, I found myself flying back to the quiet darkness my eyes so desperately craved.

It had been a decade since I had seen Marietta or Atlanta. So much had changed when I arrived. The transit trains that I had rode as a senior in high school now became foreign to me. I walked out of the North Avenue MARTA station and I became so disoriented.. .. because nothing registered as being familiar. It was like I was visiting the city for the very first time.

But nostalgia, that sleepy beast of an emotion, woke up from its hibernation, and things began to connect themselves like little puzzle pieces, slowly dancing with each other to connect and become one. The Varsity, Piedmont Park, Ansley, 10th and 14th ave, Little 5 Points, Cabbage Town, East Village… Mary’s…. All these things began to come together to spell out the words in my head “Atlanta. I miss You”

Diamonds are a consistent symbol you will see revolving in my work, and if we’ve ever met you will see them in my tattoos. Diamonds represent (to myself) the idea of fortitude. While in Atlanta, my best friend and I, got these tattooed on our forearms to remember each other by.. and to remember what these symbols mean. In rough times, I turn to my forearm like a watch to remember to keep my head up. .. and keep on moving.. Because living in a city where everything moves so fast, and everything you have can turn upside down in a second… and right side up a second later.. you have to … have these reminders to “keep on keepin’ on” .

Inside the Mickey face reads:

 

“November 9th, 2012

Somewhere above the Ozarks.

I left my home at 4:30 AM. I watched Los Angeles wake up groggily on the highway as the dawn grew light. This is when I  love LA the most. Pre Gridlock. I’m now on a plane 3,000 miles above the Ozarks. I am returning back to my home for a quick visit. It’s been twelve years since I’ve been to Atlanta, Georgia.

My heart is pounding in my chest like a hummingbird in a cage. I’ve set up this makeshift art studio while on the flight. It seems everywhere but my art studio is my work space. The fold down tray is my desk. The soda can they gave me as a brush holder. I’ve been traveling a lot. Chicago, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and now Atlanta. This is my dream right now, to travel the states with canvas, paint, and pen and just paint wherever I am.

When you are an artist, a writer, a musician… You are a snail. Home is everywhere. It’s on your back. That is how I want to live.  To continue on wherever “home” is. ”

This is the 6th of the Loveless Letters Series, and 63rd in the TENxTENxTEN collection

“Stay Gold”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 53

18 Apr

"Stay Gold"

A few years ago I was a temp at Disney Consumer Products in Glendale, California.I was new to Los Angeles, fresh from traveling in between Seattle and San Francisco trying to find a place to call a home. I was a hopeful artist, showing in small cafes, bars,  and LBGT centers. In my head, being a painter was only ever going to be a hobby, and never and actualized profession. But, lo and behold, that one fateful day, when an administrative assistant passed my compacted cubicle and saw my paintings of drag queens of the glorious West Coast.. that my life began.

Since getting the chance to show my craft, my life has been filled with endless hours of work to prove myself. I hit the ground running from the swelling of interest, and I’ve worked hard night and day to build a foundation of work. In this time period I’ve had many rewards and accomplishes met, as well as great heartbreak and criticism. This just comes with the craft.

In saying this, I was asked in an interview a while back on how I came to be an artist, and what I found to be ‘the formula’ for staying relevant in an age of such quickening information. No longer are we subjected to a longer lasting semi-permanence through a flip of a magazine page, as we are .05 seconds of an interest before a person clicks the mouse away from our images. We are less than semi permanent, and therefore have to strive to work harder to be seen. I responded “well.. I don’t think there really is such a formula that attends to all of us as artists, I think.. personally, that everything is different for each aesthetic and person.. and really.. even when it comes down to… next Tuesday, that formula could change entirely for myself.”

I reflected back to that answer on March 22nd, 2013, when I was met with a change in my artistic course. I thought earnestly on how, exactly, at that moment, what the (or my) formula was. So, at that moment, around 3:00am I grabbed a can of spray paint, headed into the back yard of my San Francisco studio, and began to map out a formula for artists.

This, by no means, pertains to all of us, and if anything, is more of a satire of that question asked.

This piece is a ‘formula for stayin’ gold as an artist in the world’. Mickey Mouse and the surrounding background is a dense sea of percentages that equal 100% of different attributes to this plan. They are as followed

  • 1% Pop Culture Knowledge
  • 4% Color Theory
  • 2% Caffeine
  • 1% Form
  • 6% Imagination
  • 0.7% Luck
  • 3% Believing in Yourself
  • 1.1% Balance
  • 0.2% Have an Angle
  • 0.8% Fear
  • 7% Vision
  • 2.1% Good Taste!
  • 11% Marketing
  • 7% Skill
  • 2% Psychology
  • 2% Reading, Writing, Arithmetic
  • 5% Ego Wrangling
  • 0.1% A Proper Education From an Arts University
  • 3.4% The Right Kind of Paint and/or Medium
  • 2% Dimension
  • 1.7% Sociology
  • 4.2% A Really Good Review and/or PR
  • 7.7% Growth
  • 25% Handling Rejection

Inside the face is a letter

“March 22nd, 2013. 600 Block of Natoma St. SOMA District, San Francisco

I laid down a formula in gold of percentages equaling 100% of how to remain solid as an artist in the world. Granted 60% of percentages are made up… but maybe 40% of it is actually true. Every second these percentages change in front of me. They fluctuate like the tide. Some get lost in the sea, catching trains in the undercurrent to be valid in some other artist’s actualities and eyes. Across the ocean to far away lands where paint grows on trees and brushes never break and multiply by the thousands. Those sorts of things and such. The only percentages that never changes is 7% vision and 1% form. Oh yeah. And 2% caffeine. Coffee is gold for the soul”..

This is the 5th in the “Loveless Letters Series”, and 61st in the collection.

“Eight Eggs Over Mickey”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 38

14 Nov

Being an artist in Los Angeles, can be for the most part, very isolating. The city is so large and spread out, that it can be incredibly difficult to venture into common social situations. Combine that with the massive deadlines and work that primarily is done within the home/studio, and you get a career that requires a lot of solitude. This is where I found myself with this project back in February. I was feeling a little out of sorts with my social self, and was having a little trouble surviving off of my artwork since resigning from my position at Disney Consumer Products. I began to paint outside my studio in places all over the city. Diners, cafes, libraries, park benches, friends houses, offices at temp jobs, and other places beyond my apartment became my virtual studio. I learned to paint with other resources beyond my normal supplies, and forged interesting and solid friendships along the way.

One place in particular was this diner off of Sunset Blvd called “The Brite Spot” in Echo Park, Los Angeles. I had always had this affinity for this place, because it was the FIRST place I had walked into when I first moved to Los Angeles. This restaurant, established in 1949, is the ultimate definition of an old school Los Angeles diner. Customers range from the tragically hip to the clinically insane, and its always chocked full of celebrities and musicians. The staff are all artists in some fashion, and work relentlessly and fiercely hard night after night while the place fills up past capacity in the wee hours of the morning. The decor I would always lovingly describe as “Grandma’s kitchen after she stopped taking her medication and went completely crazy”. I say this because there were portraits that were all over the place and all of them were eccentric and mismatched. All in all, this place was the quintessential hang out for East Los Angelinos at night.

I started frequenting here, bringing my rolled up canvas and sitting in a corner booth with my paints and dining on french toast dripping with syrup and taking full advantage of the bottomless cup of well brewed black coffee. The waiters and waitresses didn’t seem to mind as I took up one of their tables, and soon called this place my art studio.

In the morning I’d get up and walk behind the restaurant to my temp job at the Union. I worked briefly for CAPE (California Association of Professional Employees) whenever Twila, the southern receptionist from Georgia, was out of town. I was beginning to feel ennui with my work, and also a little depressed with my financial situation and art career situation, because I wanted that ability to just be able to survive off of painting for a living. I inhaled greatly and my eyes widened with relief when I saw my 35 minute lunch break was on, and I ran down to The Brite Spot to get a lunch.

The waitress running the floor was sporting a fancy orange county pop punk hairdo and quickly handed me a menu as I entered the door. There was something about her face that I missed seeing in myself. It was this face of “I have a million things to do at this point in time” intermixed with “too busy to think”. I remember that face when I sported it. I grew up working in the restaurant industry. My first job was at 15 years old when I was a bus boy at The Black Eyed Pea in Merchants Walk Plaza in Marietta, GA. I then grew up working as a graveyard waiter at The Paper Moon in Savannah, and at Sparky’s 24 Hour Diner in San Francisco. There was such satisfaction in working hard, and leaving late smelling like syrup, grease, and coffee. It was a symbol that I was living to work, and I loved the feeling of hard work. I quickly asked her, a little awkwardly in my office suit, if they were hiring. … and that was that.

I began working there as a bus boy and moved up to graveyard guy as the months progressed. I waited on the aforementioned customers, and while I loved them, I loved nothing greater than the lost and lonely that would sporadically wander in through life’s intersections into our place. I’d pour them a cup, and listen for hours about their lives from rags to riches, riches to rags, or just rags to rags as they’d tell me the history of their life and sometimes Los Angeles. The city began to unfold for me in that sense… Kind of like when you first move somewhere and  the area doesn’t makes sense until you live there for a while… the streets begin to form more solidly in your mind and the definition of your surroundings become more picturesque. Hearing these people were like reading books. They’d come in, and talk, and unravel their pages and read themselves in front of me, and I’d see the pictures in my head, and leave my shift heavy headed and filled with all these stories of their lives… and day by day Los Angeles and its history began to unfold clearer and clearer into this really crystal clear place, that had been so obscure to me for so long.

I loved the diner and its inhabitants so much, that I made a Mickey in honor of the place that I worked at night. This is called “Eight Eggs Over Mickey”. There are classic diner lingo in here (Order Up, Late Night Diner Food) as well as Diner food objects (Hash Browns, French Toast). There are eight sunny side up eggs which say “flip me!” as Mickey’s eyes state that there is a want for “2 Eggs Over Easy”. In the face it reads

“SEPTEMBER 15th, 2012 ECHO PARK, LOS ANGELES

That temp job @ the union office didn’t last long. I couldn’t stop drawing at my desk and I could tell that I was weirding them out. I went out for lunch that day to the diner on the corner. It’s been there since 1949. Hip girls and guys work there. I order an appetizer and I’m feeling down b/c I don’t like my side job and yet I can’t quit it b/c I need cash for travel and supplies for my art. I taste the food and look up @ the server. “Are you hiring?” I say, sweating in a ridiculous office suit. “Yes” she says. I literally hadn’t worked in a diner in about twelve years since Sparky’s in San Francisco. I loved graveyard shift…. so I leave that office job and I work nights and paint during the day. I come home at 3am and see the coyotes walking on the streets looking for food… and sometimes I stay up to watch the sun rise.

I’m really liking these moments working the late night shift. It fills me up. I have never been much for glamour.. and there is something strangely fulfilling about being tired, greasy, and smelling like syrup, pancakes, and coffee… The customers are nice, some… can be a bit… awful and mean sometimes, but thats the way it works really. .. There are fantastic people too. I do come here for the human interaction more than anything  else, it is a world that is so separate from my own. I love it.

Sometimes my worlds come together. The other dat a woman came talking about how pop art was a farce and I sought to defend it with a rebuttal, she squinted her eyes @ me and said, “What do you know about art? You are just a waiter”

I said, “You are right, I know nothing”. ”

 

(VIDEO FROM DISNEY FINE ART:

“Home, Here is Love, Love is Here”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 13

30 Mar

This is the third piece of the Loveless Letters Series. The first was exploration through an accident. The second was the uncontrollable gush from years of pent up imagination and desire of freeform. The third piece is about regaining control through environmental restrictive measures. I couldn’t be in my studio to create these anymore, because left to my own devices after this experimental phase of the stream of consciousness series, I would go further into a spiraling blather of blunderbuss nonsense. I needed to regain a sense of structure, yet continue in my imaginative pursuits of rediscovering the icon in various different ways. I set myself with these rules:

  1. Every element on this canvas had to be used from something I didn’t own. These elements could not be anything that belonged to me, or resided in my studio.
  2. Much like all of these canvases in this series, they had to go with me WHEREVER I WENT. This included cafes, temp jobs, beaches, the gym, and even hiking up 1600 ft to the top of Mt. Hollywood. If I was outside, the canvas had to come with me. However unlike the other ones, this COULD NOT be created in my studio.

With those rules, this canvas was made with:

  1. Coffee from the House of Pies , 1869 N. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 2/15
  2. Coffee from Bru cafe, 1866 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 2/16
  3. Coffee from Fred 62’s 1850 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 2/16
  4. Coffee from an office job 1910 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 2/16
  5. Highlighters from an office job 1910 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 2/17
  6. White out from an office job 1910 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 2/17
  7. Staples from an office job 1910 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 2/16
  8. Red Sharpie from an office job 1910 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 2/17
  9. Tapatio (later sealed) from Swingers Diner, 8020 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles 2/18
  10. Pen from a random stranger outside a church courtyard in East Hollywood. 2/18
  11. Pen from a stranger inside Bru cafe,  1866 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 2/16
  12. Black acrylic paint sourced in SGV 2/14

When coffee is mentioned before, its literally the coffee from my cup from various different establishments near my studio. Since I couldn’t work in my studio, since that was the rule, I’d skip over to the diners and coffee houses and work there, often spilling coffee onto the canvas, and pressing the base of cup in a circle to make a stain. At one point, a patron at a diner tried to stop me during one of my pourings, exclaiming “What are you DOING?! You are ruining it!”

When an office job is mentioned, I randomly pick up temp jobs here and there to support myself as an artist in launch phase. In this case, I was working for two days as a desk clerk at a local union in Echo Park. I brought my canvas with me, since the work was slow, and with permission began to use all their office supplies to create a piece. People seemed pretty intrigued rather than bothered by my work, except for when I used a stapler. One of my coworkers asked “Why are you stapling the canvas”, to which I replied “Because I have to”, and thats the truth…. if the object is there, and it is readily usable for the piece, then it has to be used.

It did however get a little awkward when I was called into a meeting to take notes for the director, the lawyer, and the client on the phone. Everything was fine until I realized that they were drinking out of smaller coffee cups than I had used on my canvas in my staining in the cafes and diners. I’m taking notes, and I can feel this pressure in me to figure out HOW i was going to get their coffee onto the canvas. I was diligently taking notes, and suddenly there was this momentous pause in the conversation, I quickly grabbed the lawyers cup and poured a little bit onto the canvas, and pressed the cup into it to make a circle. He paused and emitted a ‘uh…p” noise out of his throat while watching me use the piece to make my work. There was this awkward silence while I did it, but the conversation continued without a blip. They looked thoroughly amused at my eccentricities, and honestly I wouldn’t have done it if I had thought it would have caused an issue. .. but nonetheless life went on, and as you can see, there are two smaller coffee rings from the incident on the canvas.

One notable thing about this piece is the patterns inside the “HERE IS LOVE. LOVE IS HERE”. This pattern was something I used to be known for in my early work when I was a sketch artist (pre painting). I had lost that ability to create patterns like that in 2006, and suddenly found my hands redoing them out of the blue. You will see in future pieces that this becomes an integral part to the Loveless Letters Series.

(UPDATE AUGUST 30th: SOLD)

“Light Bulb City, Population: Infinite”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 12,

29 Mar

Six years ago I lost my creative synapses and the use of my hands. My brain was downtrodden with pollution, physical intoxicants, to the point of consistent delerium. Slowly, very slowly, I began to lose everything, and the world closed into this tight heated cramped space of living. I had, in essence, become less of shell of myself, and my ultimate defeat and crash in 2009 left me burnt with nowhere to go. It was rock bottom.

Surely what cured me was to retrain myself in painting. I spent the next few years diligently retraining my hands to work again. A compass and a clear plastic ruler were my teachers. I spent 60 hours a week, consistently painting, isolating myself from the world in this dingy studio off of Kingsley and Santa Monica in Little Armenia… a slightly run down sector of East Hollywood in Los Angeles. The thought process was there, but I lived by the ruler and compass like a pair of crutches.

I have been afraid to leave those crutches, and in fairness, with my recent launch over the past few years and exposure through Disney, people have relied on that geometric aesthetic as a representation of what I do.

However in January, something happened. I was being filmed for this documentary called “Tie It Into My Hand” by Paul Festa. I was the 89th teacher in this film, and what I was teaching was incredibly ethereal in concept, but totally tangible in reality. In essence, I was to teach Paul, the violinist, how to play the violin concerto by Tchaikovsky, better. The thing is with me, and the for the most part the rest of the teachers, is that none of the teachers were violinists… they were artists in other fields. So in this documentary, I decided to use what I commonly am plagued with, which is synesthesia. Synesthesia is not common for sensory deficient people. For the most part, our brains make up what we cannot see or feel. Like tasting a headache, or smelling a temperature. … I’m very used to crossing these senses to get a glimpse of what you may see in color.

So in this film, I’m teaching paul to play a color that represents the emotional cortex of the piece. In essence, since this music piece is somewhat of a love/lust letter, I’m imagining that he should be feeling deep warm colors mixed in with high heat colors. I’m hearing him play, and when he’s losing momentum, the piece is beginning to feel cold… which could roughly translate into blues and turquoises… muted cools. So I’m asking him to play again until the color represents the piece for him, and the musical temperature represents the piece for me.

When Paul Festa left that night, I closed my door and sat down at my drafting table and peered out over the edge to the window, which was slightly aglow with the city lights muted against a deep dark night. My head was humming with things that I hadn’t felt in a long time. As if, my shell cracked, and my yolk was about to spill. I could feel the crackling in my form begin to happen… and this vastness in my head began to manifest itself. The narrow, hot, shallowness began to widen into white open coolness. It was at this point where I started to realize that something strange was about to happen.

The draft of No. 12  “Wake Up and Smell the Sound of Coffee” was the gateway into this series, and this was the initial gush of nonsense that first came out. It was as if an infinite number of light bulbs were popping like popcorn in my body. Lights glittering ablaze against the brick walls of my head. .. That is what I felt, and that is what I painted. This piece is a cityscape, infinite in form and population. Each window in this piece has a tiny story. There are valleys of words, and at the base, is the borderline of where the colors I used existed, and became an actual beings for the piece. I cannot tell you what colors I used, because there is absolutely NO structure to this piece to ever recreate this piece again.

In the face resides the editorial for the piece.

MAIN FACE EDITORIAL:

“FEBRUARY 12th, TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE, LOS FELIZ VILLAGE, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

WARM PACIFIC WINTER, SIXTY THREE DEGREES, EAST HOLLYWOOD:

I’ve often wondered how people portrayed a depiction of an idea before the invention of the lightbulb. Did they use a candle, or a flaming big torch up above their head? How did people communicate a symbol of an idea? Possible I should have researched it before writing this, BUT that is the point of this. I fully come into this piece not knowing the origins of a depicted idea. All I know is what happened while creating this. You have to know that I require structure to create the lines, divide the color, and I feel safe as a blind person to hue to have structure to section off where things need to be. .. It is more therapeutic to have that. But THIS. THIS VERY PIECE is a lightbulb turned on after so many years of quiet darkness. The room is lit up and the space is beautiful. My head has become this city full of noise and sound, … and its so nice to have it.”

SIDE PANEL EDITORIAL:

“When I was 8 years old I moved to a town called Marietta, Georgia. The bay window faced south east towards the city of Atlanta.  As I grew, so did the expanding waistline of the city. The window faced this hill/street that ended at the top cul-de-sac and all you could see was this faint glow… and the older I got the brighter the light grew. I thought the light was something heaven bound, the beginning of another world, far better than this redneck town. I didn’t know that is was the city getting bigger, as the reality of my dreams were slowly more exposed as I came into my teens. I learned that the light that I stared at contained far more possibilities than where I lived. There in the city lived people who would understand… and the traffic, OH THE TRAFFIC, it would be busy as my head. Sure enough that glow, the one I followed, brought me THERE, to this MOMENT HERE.”

BORDERLINE OF WORK AND PLAY:

“Please colors, identify yourself and what you worked on today, and don’t forget, please turn in your time cards at (and) the end of your shift, Thank You. The Management

“Wake Up and Smell The Sound of Coffee”, Loveless Chronicle Series, No. 11

28 Mar

There are no mistakes in life, and there are certainly no mistakes in art. There are no wrong turns, just unexpected ones. After all, what would be the point of our life if everything was a linear path? IF…. our lives were built on a straight shot from point a to point b,  how misguided would our potential be? Our lives were built for swooping circles, twists and turns. These unexpected blips of chaos are the very ones that remind us why we are alive, question our purpose, and ultimately guide us in new directions.

With that being said, the whole different direction of this project was created off of one accidental pen mark. I’ll explain further below.

So far No. 1 – No. 7 were relatively safe executions. These were pattern saturated concepts with understood color schemes that I was safe with. No. 8 through No. 11, were at best starting to split from the normal ranges of work but still geometric in form.

No. 12 was the gateway into a new series I call the “Loveless Letters” Series, and it all happened to do a rough draft that was due to be used and destroyed for printing press purposes. In my line review of my work, No. 8 through No. 11 came with some criticism. The barcode and dollar signs were immediately nixed, and I was asked to change the television piece (Toon In, Tune Out, No. 09) ‘s text to “TURN ON/TURN OFF” to something else because it might be misconstrued. We agreed to change the word to “SWITCH” in order for the piece to go to production.

So here I have this blank uneven canvas (which is unable to be stretched), a Mickey drafted out, and I’m creating the words “SWITCH” in the ears. When I was done, I looked back at it for a moment. Here was the dodgy piece, just kind of laying there, and it just felt unused, and filed with white space (which is something I cannot stand). I had slipped my sharpie marker from writing something next to the canvas, and created a V-shape over Mickey’s head by accident. I immediately drew an uneven crown to leverage against the mistake. I paused and sat back. The silence in my head was deafening. It was then my whole vision tunneled towards the canvas, and I, for the next hour completely went into an artistic blackout.

When I emerged, I saw this strangely structured stream of consciousness piece in front of me. This was beyond anything I’d ever done in the past few years. I was so used to well thought out, perfectly designed structural pieces, that this… was the antithesis of everything I stood for as an artist.

This was not clean, safe, and sound. This was raw, deep, organic, and textural.

The face was the last thing that I worked on, and rather than design a pattern inside like I was used to, I decided to write instead.  I wrote this in homage to Paul Festa, the catalyst to all of this really. I will share with you in the next piece why Paul was an instrumental figure into this awakening.

“FEBUARY SEVENTH, TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE

LOCATION: LOS FELIZ VILLAGE IN LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA

9:45 PM.

I just recently came back from Las Vegas in where I had the most peculiar wave of sensation happen. Granted I’m used bouts of synesthesia but this was intense. I’m at the casino at Circus Circus and I get this huge taste of lemon/lime and its so acidic that its almost unreal and I haven’t had anything lemon lime that I suddenly realize that Im not actually tasting it in my tastebuds, but I’m hearing it. All the casino sounds were translating a sense of taste and it was absolutely crazy. I was overcome with the cross sense that I began to wonder if it would ever go away (and it eventually did). As a kid I used to think that these kinds of incidences were bad, but I’ve come to know that things like this are beautiful and rare and that when tasting a sound or smelling a touch or maybe even feeling a temperature to a color. That is a gift. A slap from heaven saying WAKE UP AND SMELL THE SOUND OF COFFE!”

Update: May 2012 (SOLD)