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“Metro DC Power”, Metropolitan Series, No. 97

23 Oct

Washington D.C. holds a lot of history for me growing up, mainly because my Mom was raised there. It was also the place where she met my father who was working at the Coast and Geodetic survey for the government back in the 1960’s. For most of my childhood, my summers were spent in D.C., but I was too young to really appreciate it.

I believe around 6th grade was the time I realized that D.C. was an actual place. I have this fond memory of listening to “Genius of Love” and “Wordy Rappinghood” by the Tom Tom Club in my heavily scratched walkman while the plane circled around slowly into the metropolitan sectors of the city. Being that I was raised primarily in the outskirts of cities in South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia… my brain only comprehended the architecture of lonely roads funneling through the billowing forests of blossoming oak and maple trees.

This city was bustling with tight alleyways and streets flooded to the brim with people walking everywhere. The architecture of a city was so foreign to me, and I was completely in love with the idea of existing is such a concrete paradise. This would also be the first place that I’d take my first subway ride, and I remember thinking “I want to be a subway train conductor for a living” (I still am fascinated by public transit by train and still wish to have that job).

Now, out in my 40’s, I find myself in the Metro D.C. area around 5 times a year, as my agent, friends, and artwork reside there. I would have moved there years ago if I hadn’t fallen in love with Chicago first… but … Washington…

Well… Washington D.C. still has my heart.

This piece, entitled “METRO D.C. POWER”, is a tribute to Washington D.C. In this piece you’ll find EVERY single district floating inside Mickey’s head. The green area represents the parks in the city, while the blue sectors that cut through either side in the middle represent the rivers. The shape sectors represent factors that are important to the locals of the city as well as tiny snippets of personal history regarding my consistent stay there. The lower right hand sector represents my FAVORITE part of D.C., which is the Metro system. Here you will find the lines which are represented by their respective colors and their end stations. Lastly is the Washington Monument and the White House. This piece ends the Metropolitan Collection and resides as number 97 in the collection.


“Nouvelle Nouvelle”, Metropolitan Series, No. 96

22 Oct

The South has always haunted me, and rightfully so because it’s where I grew up. The dreams taste bittersweet and sludge through my electric metropolitan brain like slow molasses covering the Earth. While I walk through the city blocks of Chicago, flashes of kudzu and humid nights rise up into my swimming dreams like steam erupting from potholes in the empty city streets of my head. These reveries of the South do not carry the concrete visions of Atlanta nor the banjo twangs of Athens. They whisper memories of Spanish moss caught in the tangles of lonely street lights and jazz of Savannah, Georgia… they silently sputter a cough into my ear of jittering flashbacks of Charleston, South Carolina’s soft ocean… they briefly mention a quaint memory of soft architecture of Mobile, Alabama. All of these cities are whispering sisters eating at the table of southern life, and yet.. in these memories, none of them sit as boldly in their chair as New Orleans.

New Orleans does not whisper in my ear, but croons from a far. She is a blues singer covered in the soft historical darkness of cigarette smoke and perfume. She is flashy on the outside, covered in the beads that are thrown off her balcony to the people who drunkenly visit her. She is a coquette who winks and carries the smirk that curves like the twisting veins of a french horn. To tourists she is a natural bon vivant, but to those that live within her… know that beyond the cash and crowds of lotus eaters, she carries the weight of her own history.

I drove through New Orleans by way of Atlanta to Houston back in 2006. My ultimate goal was Houston, Austin, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and finally to my new home out in the rainy metropolis of Seattle, Washington. I had a ford escort, $500 in my bank account, and a months worth of time to kill. Katrina had devastated the landscape, and even after her brawl with New Orleans, the storms still came. The sun was beginning to set as I arrived, and on the left of the highway the dark end of summer thunderheads billowed into an arc over the highway.. almost creating this vision of me traveling through a tunnel of bruised clouds.

It was the first time in my life that I ever saw lightning strike across the shiny lemon dime of the sun.

As I arrived into New Orleans the wind began to pick up with small spattering gales of wind and rain. I had parked at a gas station and began to search for hotels via the ones I had written down in my notebook. Everything was booked, and when I ran inside to ask the gas station attendant why, he simply looked up at me like I was an idiot and said “Well where else are they going to go?”… and I suddenly understood what he mean’t. Everything was booked because the people had lost their homes..

I hopped back in the car and drove around the city for a bit. I expected it to be a ghost town but that wasn’t the case whatsoever. The city looked dark and lonely, but the lights wavered sadly in each window that I passed. It looked like the tourist pamphlet I carried, but as if the tourist pamphlet was waterlogged and all the ink from the pictures of the festive buildings were bleeding out into obscurity. I quickly headed out and crossed the Texas border, in where every insect imaginable seemed to pummel my windshield like flying water balloons of disgust. I finally arrived in Houston and laid my tired head against a friends pillow and slept.

I remember my dreams that night, which consisted of me repeating the same drive over and over again through the streets of that city. It was never ending, and every time I woke up and fell back asleep… BAM! There I would be again, driving endlessly into street corners that would begin again. Everything led back to square one.

10 years later and out in Athens, GA I sought to complete the 2nd to last piece of the Metropolitan Series. It was here where I would relive those memories, and despite that I only visited 10 streets of that magnificent city… I fell headfirst into researching everything I could about that damaged but majestic blues singing sibling of the south.

This piece is called “Nouvelle Nouvelle”, and goes over the districts, streets, and parks of New Orleans. Inside Mickey’s face holds some of Louisiana’s famous phrases as well as a bit of Creole words in the mix. This resides as No. 9 in the “Metropolitan” series and No. 96 in the TENxTENxTEN collection.

“Atlanta Clockwork”, Metropolitan Series, No. 89

8 Aug

While I had lived in both Athens and Savannah, Georgia. I spent most of my time on the outskirts of Atlanta. I was confused for most of my time in that town, as I was incredibly odd and often felt misunderstood. It wasn’t until middle school, in where my sisters obtained their driver’s licenses, that I would truly the see a place where I belonged.

One of my first vivid adventures into the city was with my sister and her friends traveling down 75 south to Little 5 Points for a weekday hang out. Here I dizzily wandered around at 13 years old around this vibrant district of head shops and punk rock stores, all the while floating through the soft breeze of Nag Champa that effortlessly wafted into the air. All the punk rockers and hippies were walking around the place, and I was in awe and in love with everyone and everything. I remember thinking, “I want to be these people. I want to live around these people”, and for one of the first times in my life I felt like I belonged.

Later on that night I was sitting near my bay window out the burbs and playing music in my walkman while I stared out dramatically (as I often did and do) and thought about what I had seen that day. My sister walked in and said … “Hey see that light thats glowing over the hill outside your window at the other cul-de-sac? Thats Atlanta.”

I had noticed that glow for years but never knew what it was about. I hadn’t even thought about it or asked why it existed, but from then on I stared almost every night at those lights and wondered what was going on in that glow. Years later, the minute I was able to drive, I ended up in Little 5 Points out in the city, and immersed myself in the place that I loved so much. I would end up later going to high school out there, and MARTA became my main source of transportation. I’d ride Lenox to the center of the city in 5 Points and then catch another train eastbound to Inman Park.

When I had the opportunity to move out of Atlanta, I took it without hesitation. Atlanta was like a mother to me, raising me slowly to understand how to navigate through a densely populated area… and like most children who want to explore the world… I had to leave her. I soon left to Philadelphia and from that point on I never looked back.

I sometimes think over the years about what it would have been like if I had never left Atlanta. Would I have been an artist? Would I be in love? Would I be jaded that I never took the opportunity to leave, or would I have been eventually grateful that I never left because of some opportunity that wouldn’t have unearthed itself anywhere else? Regardless of these thoughts, I’m grateful for all the accidents, troubling times, and lack of security for my decision, as it has brought me to this moment in my life now.

So in tribute to the metropolitan series, it seemed fitting to do a portrait of the metropolitan mother that raised me. This piece is called “Atlanta Clockwork”, as the structure reminds me of a clock. 285 is the circumference highway that acts as the shape of a clock, all the while the North/South and “East/West” highways act as minute hands to tell the time of the city. On the outskirts are geographically accurate areas of the burbs, while inside the face encase buildings that represent the districts and streets of Atlanta. The stripes that cross through Mickey’s face represent the color of the transit system MARTA, and in the features contain more districts of the city.

Ever since I created this piece, I have flown back to the city that raised me to remember what is was like to live both inside and outside the perimeter that I grew up in. I thank the people in this city who helped raise, teach, and love me…


….and to Atlanta, my first metropolitan mother, I love you and thank you for everything.


“Neon City Frequency”, Metropolitan Series, No. 79

25 Oct

Neon City Frequency

In January of 2014 I moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles to begin my artist residency at “The Container Park”. It was off of Fremont St, a previously abandoned portion of the old strip that was being revitalized by “The Downtown Project”. My gallery was in a cozy metal shipping container that nestled into a sea of other shipping containers filled with artists, designers, restaurants, and various shops. Despite my hard working business partner and the traffic of patrons that perused through the area, which left me with a lot of inspiring connections and conversations, I was for the most part, very alone.

I lived in Henderson by myself in a two bedroom studio. One bedroom was where I worked, and the other was where I slept. In the daytime I would drive out to downtown from the 215 to the 15, and pass Las Vegas Blvd to the historic strip, and work in the shipping container. As the sun would set, I would hang outside the gallery and laugh with the next door glass artists Mya and Elisha, and gab with the street artist MISCR8 and talk about where our future in art was going. At night when the gallery closed, I’d walk out of the park while a drum circle would blare in its exotic beats, and a massive metal sculpture of a praying mantis on a tank would shoot balls of flames from its antennas into the night air. I’d drive home, often the way I came, only to paint more in the studio until I would fall asleep at my desk and wake up starting the same story the next day.

This was everyday.

Las Vegas was one of the most entertaining, and yet heartbreaking cities I had ever lived in. In the daytime, the city was obscured by mass waves of light colored buildings that swallowed the entire city grid in a misty blur. What happily existed was the massive beautiful mountains and thick clouds that painted itself in such a majestic way. In the day, the natural landscapes were the saving grace of Las Vegas. When the sun would set, the city began to groggily wake up with its drowsy sparkles of neon lights, and by complete nightfall the city was a massive beacon of metropolitan lights… I’d often, in the middle of the night, get in my car and drive on St. Rose Parkway to look at the neon grid.. I’d spend hours beyond the parkway on a random hill with a bottle of sparkling water and watch the city burst into a radiant flame by myself.

The strip itself, while incredibly welcoming to those visiting the city, felt completely out of reach to me as a resident. It was a city built on tourism, and those that lived there catered happily to them. In the strip, controlled chaos and bliss existed for those visiting it, yet those that lived there, it was a different story. The slogan “Whatever Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” was such a powerful word for those living there, because we in fact, stayed in Vegas with those experiences.

After 8 months I had only created one Mickey. The work I was creating was mostly for a series called “Mojave Metropolis” for the artist residency. I spent a lot of time working in merchandising and the business aspect of licensing, which left little time for me to really concentrate on the project. In September, the artist residency was over, and I was on to my next adventure out in Chicago. I woke up at 3am, and drove all my things out of the city. In the darkness, I drove through Las Vegas Blvd to say my last goodbye. I watched mass waves of people still partying, laughing, and happily screaming.  I watched the hotel workers stoically work through their crowd as if it was any other day. I saw showgirls glittering in the night, dancers dancing, and fire performers blowing balls of flame into the night air. I drove past the copied versions of New York and Paris, out into the wedding chapel area, and into the light bulb sparkling district of old Las Vegas, which flashed of such a vibrant history of a place that hasn’t existed anywhere else in the world. Finally, I drove through the broken lonely and abandoned streets of a Vegas forgotten… with gutted out hotels that once held such a beautiful and exotic American entertainment culture. I hit the highway North to Utah, and watched the neon lights slowly fade into the distance.

The slogan, for those that visit it, may hold true, whatever happens there, stays there.. .but for those who lived there.. actually experienced and worked in the city.. once you leave there.. the memories, the people you loved, the people that helped you, the people that broke you, the loneliness, the heartache, the beauty of such vast expansions of the metropolis in the Mojave… they don’t stay in Vegas.

They stay with you.

This painting, while in the Metropolitan series, is the first piece that talks more about the emotional landscape than the actual physical geography of the city. The references of locations like Seven Hills (a sector of Henderson), South Eastern Ave, Ann Road, Lake Mead, Green Valley, Tropicana, Sahara, and more, exist in the background of this piece. References also exist to Las Vegas like Mojave sun, miles of sand, monsoon season, pyramid luz, clouds, and dust yards. Finally there are personal references and timestamps such as ‘this is not a test’, HWY home, work work, 110F, solitude, and vision that exist here as well. Finally, I chose these all together to create silhouettes of buildings that swarm in color around the outskirts of Mickey, that when cross into his face become an obscure and textless form. This represents that Vegas is much more than just the strip, but it is the residents, the outskirts, the mountains, the hope, and experiences that make this place its embodiment.


“Mile High City”, Metropolitan Series, No. 75

25 Mar

Mile High City

I first fell in love with Denver back in the year 2000, when I was traveling from Chicago to Santa Cruz for the summer in a gold sparkling pickup truck I nicknamed “Liberace”. This was my first experience road tripping across America, and I was starry eyed and in consistent wonderment the entire time. For more than 20 years I really hadn’t experienced any kind of travel, and I saw Denver as this magical paradise thousands of feet up above sea level.

13 years later, in thinking back to that wonderful place, I decided to make Denver a part of the Metropolitan Series, and flew out there from my home in Los Angeles to draw a map of it around Mickey’s face. I had stayed with a friend from high school in Marietta Georgia, who gave me the low down on the entire city, and I spent 5 days walking and taking the train across the city to get a feel for Denver’s surroundings and inhabitants.

Out of all the cities I have visited, Denver’s aesthetic was the most unique. Most of the time I can pinpoint similarities in architecture influenced by geography and history in the US, but Denver was built on an entirely different platform. It wasn’t Southern, Midwestern, or Pacific. Denver.. .. was.. Denver… a mix of classic architecture infused with natural elements that reflected the mountains, forest, and rivers.

I was overwhelmed by the hospitality of Denver’s residents, who often reminded me of the easy going Northern Californians of Sebastapol and Southern Oregonians. The friends I stayed with wore costumes and rode bicycles through the town with thousands of other residents who did the same. The stress of traffic strained madness from Los Angeles somehow magically washed away, and I found myself whimsically walking down the street playing music in my ears and feeling that Denver was the cure from all the pressure and heartache over the years.

It was a dangerous feeling too, because I knew if I spent any time longer in Denver, that I would be packing up and leaving ASAP to become one of its residents.

Even now, when times get tough in whatever city I’m in, I think back to that week where I laid out in the park watching the sun set during a jazz festival with friends. When I’m sad I think about walking around aimlessly with no direction whatsoever and taking the RTD to 16th street. When I am uninspired, I think about the Denver Art Museum, which was one of the most INCREDIBLE museums I have been to on the planet… and getting lost in the random rooms of beautiful work that I have waited my whole life to see (IE: Sandy Skoglund “Fox Games”, Nick Cave “Sound Suits”)

In this piece, entitled “Mile High City” (in reference that Denver is actually a mile above sea level), goes over the attractions and districts of Denver. In the ears it says “Silver Boom” which goes over the Silver Rush that made Denver a prominent figure on the US map, and MTN life, which is about the culture of the city.

Here are the following attractions going clockwise from the lower left side.

1. Denver Art Museum
2. Little Man Ice Cream
3. Blue Bear Sculpture (Convention Center Sculpture)
4. National Western Stock Show
5. Tattered Cover Book Store
6. Mountain Views
7. Larimer Square
8. Colorado State Flag
9. Confluence Park
10. Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum
11. South Platte River
12. Botanic Gardens
13. Lakeside Amusement Park
14. “The Aliens” Sculpture
15. Union Station (Train Station)
16. RTD (Transit System)
17. 16th Street Mall.

Inside Mickey’s face are the following 68 districts:

1. Country Club
2. North Capulo
3. East Colfax
4. Speer
5. Belcaro
6. Cole
7. North East Park Hill
8. Washington Virginia Vale
9. Montbello
10. Hale
11. University Hills
12. Wellshire
13. Rosedale
14. Gateway
15. Green Valley Ranch
16. Montclair
17. Indian Creek
18. Virginia Village
19. Five Points
20. Cory Merrill
21. Lowry
22. Hilltop
23. City Park West
24. Union Station
25. Civic Center
26. Baker
27. Curtis Park
28. Chaffee Park
29. Skyland
30. Cherry Creek
31. Regis
32. South Park Hill
33. Sloan Lake
34. Cheeseman Park
35. Stapleton
36. Elyria Swansea
37. Platte
38. Clayton
39. Auraria Park
40. Hampden
41. Washington Park
42. Ruby Hill
43. Globeville
44. Sun Valley
45. Barnum
46. Whittier
47. Berkeley
48. West Highland
49. College View
50. University Park
51. Highland
52. Capitol Hill
53. Lincoln Park
54. Congress Park
55. South Platte
56. Kennedy
57. University
58. Sunnyside
59. Goldsmith
60. South Moore Park
61. Marlee
62. West Colfax
63. Bear Valley
64. Villa Park
65. Fort Logan
66. Marston
67. Harvey Park
68. Athmar Park

This is the 85th in the TENxTENxTEN Collection, and the 5th in the Metropolitan Series.

“Sactown Heart”, Metropolitan Series, No. 54

15 Jun

"Sactown Heart"

Sometimes when I think of America, I imagine it as a large room containing 50 people, in where each person represents itself as a state. I imagine them talking to each other about their lives, their dreams, hopes, and revelations. Furthermore when I put the imaginary microscopic lens to each person, I see inside them, the very components that make them alive. The cities are the organs, the highways are the veins, and we, the citizens of each entity, represent the cells that travel around their bodies to keep them functioning each and every day.

When I think about California as a person, I imagine that Sacramento is the heart  that keeps this state thriving. Much like the heart in our human bodies, it is the epicenter of our survival. Our heart pumps life throughout our bodies much like Sacramento pumps life throughout California.

In March I traveled to Sacramento to get a feeling for the town and its architecture. I conversed with the residents, learned about the vast and complex history of its creation and survival, and was given an incredibly detailed tour of the many landmarks that existed within the city. I returned back to my studio in San Francisco with my head heavy with dozens of facts, details, and historical components about this place. With that being said, my talent for editing was overpowered by the need to represent Sacramento and its history to its fullest, and this is where I ran with it.

In piece, titled “Sactown Heart”, Mickey is viewed as the figurative heart of California. Inside his face I have put 70 of Sacramento’s districts that float around the title of the painting. In the ears I have labeled two historical events. The first one is the Pony Express, which was the vital mail service in 1860-1861 that existed as a west coast hub to solidify east-west communication before the invention of the telegraph. The second one is “Gold Rush” which commemorates the Californian gold rush era in between 1848 – 1855 which Sacramento played a huge part in.

Since the background is a little complex, I’m going to break it down into sectors to fully describe what you are seeing.

  1. Overall: You will see Camellia flowers blooming all over this canvas. The Camellia is the city flower of Sacramento. Train tracks are blooming from Mickey’s head in all different directions to signify Sacramento as a transit hub for the Central Pacific Railroad. This hub is a central point for all trains to deliver supplies to the rest of the state and beyond. This also solidifies Mickey as the heart, and the train tracks as arteries to keep our state alive and well.
  2. Upper Left:  The leaves and blue squiggles are deconstructed elements of the “Crest Theatre”. The word Crest borders on the circumference of the design. Humpty Dumpty, the exact mascot of Fairytale Town rests on the ear with the words “Fairytale Town” and “Funderland” next to it. These are two amusement parks for children in Sacramento. In between this is the American River.
  3. Middle Left: The tower bridge in shown here saying “I RAISE!” in representation that the bridge is a vertical lift bridge, and raises to let boats through. The tower bridge exists on the Sacramento river, and was opened on December 15th, 1935.
  4. Lower Left: The capitol building is displayed where with floating lightbulbs and two speech bubbles that say 1895. This is to represent the “Electric Carnival of Lights”, which happened on September 9th, 1895. This was to commemorate Sacramento’s achievement as the “greatest operative electrical plant on the American Continent”. In the late 1960’s, Walt Disney used the carnival as the historical model for Disneyland’s Electrical Parade which debuted on June 17th, 1972.
  5. Lower Middle: This is the Ziggurat building which rests next to the Sacramento river. In a speech bubble cloud, the building is saying its nickname “ZIG”.  Next to it is the exact sign of the ESQUIRE building.
  6. Lower Right: The Delta King is seen traveling on the Sacramento river. This boat, established on May 20th, 1927, was a transportation vessel from Sacramento to San Francisco. A copy of the Delta King also exists at Disneyland. Next to this is a tree with the words “City of Trees” which Sacramento is called from time to time. Above this is the Eagle Theatre, which was the FIRST theatre in California (Est. 1849)
  7. Middle Right: The I-Street Bridge exists in this sector with a speech bubble that says “I PIVOT!” as this is a swing bridge that rotates out to let boats pass through. Built in 1911, the I-Street bridge rests on the Sacramento River.
  8. Upper Middle:  The CP Huntington Train rides over Mickey’s crown here with the words “No.1” on the 1st car to represent that the train has “No.1” on it on the engine. Its emitting steam clouds with the words “Central Pacific Railroad” in it, as Sacramento was the HUB for the Central Pacific Railroad. Walt’s had a particular love for trains, and this engine exists as a copy at Disneyland. Camellia flowers bloom around The Sacramento State Logo as well as a canvas with the words “Crocker Art Museum” in it.
  9. Upper Right: Scoopy the Bee is depicted here flying in the upper right corner saying “Scoopy has the news!”. Scoopy the bee is the mascot for the newspaper in Sacramento called “The Sacramento Bee”. In 1943, Eleanor McClatchy, youngest daughter of C.K. McClatchy (and grand daughter of James McClatchy who founded the newspaper in 1853) offered to donate $1,500 to the army relief fund if Walt could develop a mascot that could “lend a personality and familiar identity” to The Sacramento Bee. Even though Walt was overwhelmed with war related work at the studio and not accepting outside commercial work, he agreed, and Scoopy was created.

Overall this is probably one of the most complex pieces I have ever done, but I could not think of any other city to devote such details and history over than Sacramento. I should note that not only was this piece about Sacramento, but this piece is MADE of Sacramento. All the paint used in this piece was mixed with the water I bottled from the Sacramento River. This is the 4th piece of the Metropolitan Series, and 62nd in the collection.

“West Coast San Francisco Soul”, Metropolitan Series, No. 50

25 Mar

"San Francisco Soul"

“Dear San Francisco,

This is my love letter to you.

I am writing this from the back porch of my apartment that cozily has tucked itself into the industrial alleyways of your South of Market District. There are helicopters purring like a thousand pussycats with wings above your head, and fire engine sirens wailing songs of concern all around your ears tonight. Your citizens, the blood cells of your being, are marching in mass droves through the veins of your streets chanting phrases for equality today.. and I am so overwhelmed at your unending capacity to give us our voices and liberty.

I came to you in the early 2000’s, with a bruised truck full of clothes and a 1G computer full of music to an apartment in the Tenderloin. I was a wanderer, a vagabond, a man with no mission other than to find a home. For my whole life I sojourned along the Eastern seaboard desperately looking for a place to call my home. From Marietta, Athens, Atlanta, Savannah, Raleigh, and Philadelphia,  I desperately and consistently threw my anchor down to find creatures much like myself to call akin to, and nothing proved itself similar to a symbiotic relationship.

But you, you my dearest friend, met me with open arms, and gave me high priced (but well worth it) shelter for an experience that defined my very being. I spent years with you, in the Tenderloin, Upper Nob Hill, and Chinatown, figuring out myself, and you in turn taught me how to be an artist. And with a 1/4 angled golden taklon brush, I began to paint your citizens, one by one.. and I became everything I ever wanted… Because you not only gave me a chance to be a human being..

But you taught me how to be great.

After all these years, with me leaving you for Seattle and Los Angeles, you’ve taken me back in your arms without malice or regret, and have again… given me such great purpose in life.

So tonight, I’ve painted what I thought best of you, without your  tchotchke’s of golden gate bridges, parks, windmills, Coit towers, Transamerican glories, and various other landmarks. But I have painted you.., as you are, in geometric bliss. A lover, a city, and my best friend.

Yours Always,


This is the 4th in the Metropolitan Series, and 57th in the entire collection. In this piece, Mickey is the radiating city of San Francisco, a perpetual sun in a massive glow shooting a spectrum of hope. On the outskirts of this painting are lines to represent the marine layer, fog, and bay. Above his head is a speech bubble that communicates the heart, speaking on love and liberty.

Paparazzi Gridlock, Metropolitan Series, No. 48

18 Mar

Paparazzi Gridlock

I love Los Angeles.

It is a city full of ups, downs, and sideways.

It is a city full of sunshine and smog.

It is a city full of opportunity and broken dreams.

It is a city with a massive beating heart, and yet with clogged arteries full of traffic.

Los Angeles is a city that will never give you 50%. It will give you 100% or nothing at all.

I love this town. I’ll be honest. At first I didn’t. I crash landed into this town like an albatross on fire. I was certain that I had been defeated by the hustle and bustle of its diameter.. but I survived. Not only did I survive, but I came out on top and my career as an artist blossomed here. Los Angeles provided the pathways for success, and I grabbed a hold onto the reigns of my life, and rode it to where I am today.

I would be nothing without this city, and I thank my lucky stars for moving here.

This piece is called “Paparazzi Gridlock”, and resides as the 3nd piece of the Metropolitan Series, and 55th of the collection. Inside Mickey’s face are the many highways (110, 210, 10, 60, 5, 101, 170, 405, 118, 134, 2, and 1) that infiltrate and surround the area. The clouds inside the face represent the smog, while outside they become white fluffy clean clouds of the Pacific. The top of his face is Mt. Hollywood/ Griffith Park with the iconic Hollywood sign. The top also represents the criss crossing spotlights of Hollywood, and they fade around the circumference to sunshine rays around the blue sky. The pink stars are to represent the stars on the boulevard. In the left ear are cameras to represent the tourists and the paparazzi, and in the right ear are television sets to represent the industry.

“Mister Busy Head”, Metropolitan Series, No. 35

23 Oct



The 2nd city for the “Metropolitan Series” was for New York City. I decided to travel up there, since it had been nearly 10 years since I had been back. I ended up bringing my canvases up to my friend on W. 75th and Central Park West. I spent most of my days walking around trying to gather my head over what this piece was going to be about.

In the early 2000’s I lived in Philadelphia, PA. It was… somewhat of a weird decision to live there honestly… and I’m not sure why I did… but nonetheless, it was a culture shock from my southern roots.  I lived in West Philadelphia right behind “Queen Lane Station” in West Philly. I’d spend my free days walking to the SEPTA train, riding it to Trenton New Jersey, and taking the North East Corridor Line on the NJ Transit to New York Penn Station. It only took less than two hours, and I spent most of those hours drawing on the train in one of my awkwardly puffy sketchbooks.

I’d arrive and take the train to my friends apartment in Chelsea. It was, .. the strangest apartment set up I’d ever seen. He lived with a roommate that occupied the normal part of the studio, but in the middle of the living room was a hole in the ground with a ladder poking out. His actual room was down the hole in the center of the floor. Once you climbed down the ladder, you had to walk down this tunnel into a concrete slab of a windowless room. It was strangely comfortable. And that was in essence, New York City. Strangely comfortable. Sure, its compact, and slammed at all hours, and everyone is in your way… or YOU are in THEIR way. ..but there is something harmonious about it as well.

Coming back a decade later was bittersweet, and strangely nostalgic from a non NYC reason as I was staying with ex from San Francisco, and spending my days with my friend from Georgia. But I visited the Whitney Museum for the Yayoi Kusama exhibit and essentially got myself lost in the Metropolitan Museum of Art later on…

In the process I created this piece, which was done primarily in my friends apartment, and on the plane flight home back to LA. This is slightly comical and compact. Each building has a story attached to it, much like the city itself. In the lower left, there is a person singing, and another person telling them to be quiet… This was influenced by my friends neighbor who was a opera singer instructor… and throughout the day would be training up and coming divas belting their sopranos (it was quite beautiful actually, but I could only imagine the other neighbors reactions to it at all hours of the day). Duckworth and Anthony labeled buildings are for my friends from different parts of the world that made NYC their home, and invited me warmly into their places. There are other stories too, that you can read in the windows and clouds.. ..

..because thats New York to me. Its like this compact book, filled with tiny words about big things, all jam packed and exploding at your fingertips at every touch and glance.




“Metropolitan Daydreamer”, Metropolitan Series, No. 22

11 May

For half of my life, I spent looking at Chicago in a 2 dimensional sense. It was just a word with a pin next to it on a map that laid against my wall. This map had pins of all the cities I wanted to travel to, because as a a gay kid in Marietta, Georgia, the first thing that I wanted to do when I came out, was move to a big city, because I knew, than in the city, people understood you more than they did where I came from.

Years went by, and I had eventually moved out of my town and spent it moving around. At first it was just around the South as my own wanderlust had training wheels, but I eventually had gone to the North East, in which to my dismay, didn’t really fit either. I was on this big search to find the perfect place, and the West Coast was my next destination.

My first visit to Chicago was this slight hiccup in my travels that carried me from my brief home in Philadelphia to my new home in San Francisco. I spent a few weeks traveling here and there, checking off all the cities from that old pinned map, which now laid folded up in my glove compartment in my truck. Chicago, was just supposed to be a check off the map, … because in my mind, my head was made up for San Francisco.

When I had arrived to Chicago, it was like the whole world imploded inside my brain. My eyes could literally NOT comprehend what it was seeing. Sure I had spent weeks in New York City, being that I lived a hour away by train, but Chicago was a whole other kind of metropolitan beast, because Chicago was beautiful.

And I was in love.

It was the first time that I had fallen in love with a city. I had, never, for the most part, felt comfortable where I lived, nor where I visited, and this place totally caught me off guard. I spent the Summer in this romantic whirlwind with the city, spending my days riding the CTA to different districts, and spending my nights alone with music blaring in my ears out near the lake. My young head was blurting out a mosaic of dreams that could not be stopped. It was this inanimate intimacy that I had with this city, a brief love affair with a noun that only described a time and a place, not a person or thing.

So when I had to pack up and continue my travels, my heart laid heavy, and I felt distraught and sad. My last day I just sat there on the CTA. I didn’t care where it took me. I, listless and numb, just rode for hours and hours, listening to music and memorizing station names as they squealed into my view. I eventually drove West, and continually and obsessively talked about that city until eventually, my sweet love hangover dissipated and my attention for San Francisco grew slowly but surely.

Eleven years later I returned to Chicago for a visit. My brain and heart, wrung dry from my stays in San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, slowly but surely ignited again like an old flame when I had arrived. Memories opened like a flood gate and I remembered being incredibly young and incredibly in love with a Metropolis that contained some of the most magnetic and incredible people I had ever met. In homage I began to paint this series into my “Ten By Ten By Ten” Disney collection.

This piece is about the CTA of Chicago. Each color panel represents a station line color, and within each panel is a station on that individual line. This is in dedication to this amazing transit system, and even though its main purpose is to guide us to our next destination, it also serves us as a vehicle of contemplation and daydreaming.