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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.