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“Aquarius”, Sketchwave Series, No. 92

18 Oct

 

 

Nearing the end of the project I began to have to nit pick at the remaining pieces that fit into the entire puzzle of TENxTENxTEN. I was of course going to finish the ones in the series that required me to be more expressive, and I dove straight into finishing my favorite series entitled “Sketchwave”.

I had left the warm glow of the restaurant job due to the funds of another painting project that came my way, and ended up retreating to my warehouse apartment out in Athens, GA while a 2 week non stop rainstorm washed over the city. In the darkness of my place, I sat at my desk to think about what this piece would be about… and decided to give tribute to all the characters that blossomed out during this project.

Rather than the free flow flotsam and jetsam style that I seemed to love so much, I wanted to get back to my geometric roots and give each character (and new ones) an individual home, a square to call their own. Not only were there spaces for just the characters, but elements of the things I missed and the things I had currently laid in there, as well as random phrases that just burst into my mind.

Looking back at this I could tell that I was missing Chicago as I see “Pink Line”, “The Lake”, “Blue Line”, and “Waveland” in the mix. I can see that I was missing Las Vegas as I see “Horizon”, a cactus, and mountains as well. Icons like Diamond Head Jones, Foudre, La Luz, King Sleep, and Monsieur Nuage are here… as well as the elements of past paintings like the floppy disk for “Dataworld.EXE”, the letter from “Forevermore”, and the moon, egg, anchor, and ghost from previous sketchwave pieces.

I suppose I was feeling sentimental about this project while I was doing it as I see everything I’ve built put into a home where they will live forever in this piece.

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“Colors United”, Sketchwave Series, No. 90

25 Aug

 

As I was coming to the end of my TENxTENxTEN series, I began to get incredibly nostalgic over the time that I had on this project. I suppose this is why I ended up doing the piece “Loveless City” a bit ago, because I wanted to remember all the people who helped me along the way in my art career. With a blank canvas in front of me, I began to think about how I could make this piece about everyone else. Sure, I could put their names in there, but I really wanted to think deeper on a subject that connected all of us together (kind of like the piece “The Distance Between Two Points”)

I decided that I would not paint this time around at first, and instead ask friends, strangers, and people through random connections to paint for me instead. For the next few weeks I carried my paint and brushes around with me to various places all over the US and asked random people to make blobs and shapes all over the canvas. Once the piece was completely saturated in paint, I began to envision shapes and characters around everyone’s marks, and slowly but surely this painting came to life.

This piece is called “Color’s United” and seeks to connect all of us together through the artwork we create.

“Know Where”, Sketchwave Series, No. 82

16 Apr

Know Where 14x14

 

Out in San Diego for Comic-Con 2015 I sat for hours in my artist booth with Choice Collectibles Gallery grazing over the blank silhouette of Mickey Mouse. I had but a few paints left in my satchel, and strangely enough (but quite common really) I had left all my markers at my sublet off of Easy Street in Normaltown Athens, Georgia.

At this point in the series, Noka and I realized that the “Disney Series” was not going to fly due to their rules from Corporate Brand Management about  non core characters like Sleeping Beauty and Alice being a part of Mickey’s world. It was here where we would rely on that monumental phase started by “Wake Up and Smell the Sound of Coffee” to create a chapter called “SketchWave”

In Sketchwave, the sky was the limit of what I could do, but at this point no structure meant that I’d be left to circle around a canvas for hours. I splattered paint here and there while fans, and passers by came by to see what I was doing. Still unsure, I walked off with Tim Rogerson, a fellow artist with Disney Fine Art, to a supplies booth in the NorthWestern corner of the convention center. I found this brilliant marker, came back to the booth, and went to town.

This piece, called “Colors United” is about my time out in San Diego with Comic-Con and the various reps of Choice Collectibles and hanging out with Tim Rogerson. In this painting I’ve chronicled in real time what was happening. From leaving Comic-Con, hanging out in the airport at 10pm while fireworks burst above the sky, back out to Atlanta, GA, where I’d grab my car and drive 80 miles north to Athens at sunrise and morning fog. I finished this piece in the hot summer on the porch of my place out in Easy street… and created dichotomous profiles of the west coast versus the South in Georgia.

In the face of “Know Where” is the various places I lived all over the world, and in the outskirts of Mickey lays the story of traveling from San Diego to Athens, GA. Here it says:

“Comics convention, San Diego with Rogerson. Hotel is in Mission Valley. I went to sleep at 3:30 am. At 6:45 am I woke up to paint in the morning light. I’m near the end of this project. I walk with Tim downtown through galleries and exit b/c of SCI-FI legends (William Shatner). We exit thru the back and head to 4th ave and 6th st for dinner. I have to leave and a hummer taxi picks me up. At the airport, fireworks explode beyond the plane. I’m sad to go. Flight 850 to Atlanta 10:30 pm to 530 am. I arrive groggy and get into my car and drive up 85N thru the sunrise over ATL, 2 85 east to 316. There is morning fog on the highway. I go to 78 to 10 loop and get on Prince Avenue exit. Park at 130 Easy St. Drop bags and paint on the porch in Normaltown hot weather and all.”

Outer loop says:

” The cicadas are humming @ night from my dusty old porch. Normaltown Athens GA, and I’m waiting for thunder and rain mixed with light bulbs of paparazzi lightning, but alas I fall asleep and its 7/18/15. Morning and its early light. Its 102 degrees outside. I work in the heat for 8 hours and I almost pass out. The summer is brutal but it’s worth it after the sun goes down b/c the air cools down and everything comes alive in my back yard. Fireflies sparkle like fireworks exploding across an ocean of grass. My neighbor (x) plays these warm guitar riffs in the distance and I think I am in heaven. Mr. Walker tells me that even utopia has its hardships. ”

 

 

 

 

 

“Trouvez Le Bonheur”, Sketchwave Series, No. 81

30 Oct

Trouvez Le Bonheur

 

In deep winter out in Chicago, I boarded the CTA train in the middle of the snowy night and headed out to O’Hare.. Groggy from little to no sleep, I passed in and out of slumber on the blue line until the train stopped at my location. Zombielike I managed to sloth through security half awake and I finally boarded my plane. As my plane lifted up from the frozen wonderland of the Midwest, I watched the first parts of morning light hazily whisper through the darkness. .. and I fell asleep with the thousands of thoughts about where I was landing.

.. my old home of Atlanta, Georgia.

For years I had traveled to Georgia, but rarely did I ever spend much time in Atlanta. For the most part I’d find some excuse not to go, and would hurriedly grab a shuttle that would scuttle me through the southern parking lot of a metropolis and out into the warm forested thickness of north eastern Georgia.

85 N to 316

316 to 78

78 to the 120 loop

The further I got away from Atlanta, the less I had to think about it, and it was no disrespect to the city itself.. Atlanta was a beautiful place, but I struggled with that city growing up, and even after 15 years of being gone, I always felt that there was a time bomb lodged in my heart, and Atlanta held the nostalgic trigger to set it off.

This time however as I left Hartsfield airport, I did not grab the shuttle to Athens. I thought about it, and I even stood in the shuttle yard walking back and forth muttering crazily to myself as I saw the van roll up to the waiting station.. but I did not board it… I turned around and took the MARTA train up North, while tightly gripping a rolled up blank mickey canvas in my sweating hands.

I was here in Atlanta for a reason, and it was to paint about the city in the most abstract emotional sense, because for 15 years I refused to really be here. I had spent a little time here with another piece a few years back called “Ozark Diamonds”, so I wasn’t completely unprepared, but this trip had a purpose of deeply spelunking through the core of my history out here… which was such a different process. Secondly I was returning to the place I was raised on such a different emotional context, because I created Ozark Diamonds while STILL searching for a place that I could call home, and I hadn’t found it in Los Angeles… now in Chicago, I wanted to finally.. in some way speak about where I was raised, now that I felt stable with a place I could confidently call ‘home’.

I was picked up by my best friend Ryan at one of the northernmost stations of the transit system. Ryan was one the longest friendships I had, which fatefully started while hanging out in the parking lot of a midtown gay bookstore called “Outwrite” in the late 90’s. In our relationship, in which I referred to him as my “little brother” he always seemed to be driving me everywhere. I had a car mind you, but Ryan loved to drive me around sweetly enough.

As I got in the car, I was reminded of all the times we drove around aimlessly together. Sometimes in the middle of the night I’d find myself with him, blaring trip hop music dustily through the dark and glittering streets of Virginia Highlands and Little 5 Points. It seems I had forgotten what happiness I had in those moments, and pangs of guilt wrapped around me, as I had.. for so many years thought about the bad things over the good things of this town.

What I feared about Atlanta did not transpire, and in fact the entire trip I was thrown into a wonderful rollercoaster of memories about Atlanta. This city, was in fact the FIRST place where I learned that there were amazing things beyond suburbia, and that inside the perimeter laid the elements that I never knew existed. We were suburban kids alright, jaded from the often oppressive beige regimes of the mundane and conservative, but here.. in Atlanta.. we could be brilliant. We could be firecrackers splitting the metropolitan stars into the wee hours of the morning.

Ryan and I sped past Peachtree street’s glittering lights, and down into the modified sectors of North Avenue and beyond. Memories welled up into the locations of my upbringing.

There was the place where I first kissed someone

Over here….

that was the place where I first fell in love..

and over there…

that was the place where I first got my heart broken..

and there.. thats where I learned something..

that shopping complex,

that bar,

that massive park,

that 24 hour diner,

that house,

that man,

those places…

I furiously drew over the days in all these random locations that may have been just 4 walls, a roof, and some commerce to others.. but to me, they were symbols, icons, and anchors to my emotional topography. I was so immersed and fascinated with the things that I had forgotten, that when I took the train south to the shuttle yards to board that bus to Athens.. I stood there again.. walking back and forth, muttering to myself on wether I wanted to get back to that comfort I had so emotionally lazylike done for so long. ..

Sometimes we forget who we are when we leave the very place that helped tell our first story. Sometimes, when the negative things in our geographic history stay in the place that we left, they fester and grow like a garden untamed when we are gone, and when we revisit those old fields of the things that made us sad, we are left with a place overrun with plants, weeds and trees of hurting memories that are much larger than they were when they were first planted.

Sometimes these gardens are so wild, that our lovers, our friends, our “little brothers” become obscured in the brush of emotional kudzu, and we can’t find them because we are so lost on our path… and we are filled with the fear of returning to these places because we just don’t know how or where to begin in taming our garden.

… but when we do clear the path of that festering history of heartbreak, fear, and nostalgic terror.. we begin to see the people we loved and the people who helped us appear clearly on the clean green lawns of our past..

And we begin to recall who we are in our skin by remembering our skin.

This piece is called “Trouvez Le Bonheur”, which means “Find(ing) Happiness”. In this painting you will find an emotional map of Atlanta Georgia (and the Metro Atlanta area) by means of nostalgic pathways of my experience in the 90’s. There are physical locations like Ponce De Leon, Argonne, Monroe and Piedmont, Azalea Dr, Post Oak, and 4th Ward. Timestamps of actual drawing are at Octane, Atlanta.. and a random coffee house in Ansley Square complete with time and temperature. Other words and symbols are memory anchors of my time out there. This resides as no. 7 in the Sketchwave series and no. 91 in the collection.

“Objects in Chicago are Closer than they Appear”, Sketchwave Series, No. 80

27 Oct

Objects in Chicago are Closer than they Appear

In Chicago I lived on the 5th floor of a building called “The Envoy” on the Northside of town called “Edgewater”. It was a hardy brick building that dripped with a deep history beyond a century. Before me laid over a hundred years of people living in this room. It was a tiny box apartment with heavily textured walls, and often when I’d graze my hands across the sea of fluctuations of texture, I wondered how many people had done the same before me.

My window overlooked the north side of town, which carried the view of an adjacent rooftop, that at night would blow massive puffs of steam into the cold air, like a blues singer arching their neck upwards to blow their cigarette smoke while singing. Beyond the roof top, laid a mass of buildings checkerboarding their lighted windows across the way. I’d lay in bed and watch the various characters criss crossing through rooms.. some were cooking, some were fighting, and some were falling asleep alone to the lullaby of their television at 2am.

I worked furiously in this apartment, often forgetting the idea of sleep while my hands were so desperate to create something. I had previously spent 8 months in Las Vegas, and while fruitful for business, my brain shut down from the loneliness. When I had arrived in Chicago, my mind was on fire, and like a floodgate breaking, I spent most of my time painting. I was still being reclusive, but I never felt alone, and in fact… it was the first time in a VERY long time, that I felt alive.

I’ll tell you why.

The word “home”, while not foreign to me, has struggled to dance with my voice wherever I’ve lived. I’ve spent the last 38 years trying to figure out where I belonged, and for the past 15 years I have moved to find out where that was. In each place, I found such a new version of an American culture that was completely alien to me. In each place I sought to settle myself, but found I was trying to push my circle self into a square shaped city, and that in the end I would run off to the next adventure to see if I’d fit. Mind you, I wasn’t running away from anything, I was running TO something, and every time I’d feel a shift coming along I’d grab my backpack and carry on.. because as artists, as writers, as travelers, as souls searching for something… anything

.. we are never lost at sea…

we are just happy where the current takes us.

Chicago had become the first place where I felt like I belonged. Suddenly my circle self fit into a circle city, and I settled quietly as the winter came. The cold blazed through the town, and there were minor complications with my water and heating system, but with that aside, I found that the friendships I had, made me completely blind to the harsh weather that came over me.

During the Winter I spent my days working in the studio, and in the evening I’d walk out of The Envoy and down Bryn Mawr slipping on the ice patches to Clark and work at a warmly lit restaurant called “Summerdale” till close. Generally I’d walk back the same way, or grab the train at Berwyn and ride with one of my Mickey paintings down to the 24 hour diner off of Belmont and paint till the wee hours of the morning while it snowed outside. I’d eventually go home, and fall asleep to the sounds of CTA train whizzing by, and wake to the sounds of the cathedral bells telling me what time it was by the number of icy chimes that rang.

As Spring came, I realized that I wanted to move away from Chicago back to Georgia where my search for home started. I figured it was the perfect way to close the TENxTENxTEN series. I found it difficult to leave my apartment, and on my last day I hysterically cried in my taxicab on the way to O’Hare International Airport to my new destination.

It was the first time in my life that I have ever cried about leaving somewhere.

Because it was the first time in my life that I felt like I was leaving home.

This piece is called “Objects in Chicago are Closer than they Appear”. In this painting Mickey is surrounded by the districts, train lines, museums, and icons of Chicago. Inside Mickey’s face is a representation of streets, beaches, and parks of the city. It resides in the “Sketchwave” series, as “Metropolitan Daydreamer” is technically the piece that resides in the “Metropolitan Series” representing Chicago.

It is with this piece, that I tell you, that I love you Chicago, and this is painting is my love letter to you. You are the first place in my life to call home, you are the first place to give me such radiant joy, and you are the first place where I can feel love. I love you in your temperamental temperature ways, and I love you when you throw your cold winter shoulder away from me, because I know you’ll turn around eventually and give me your warm spring and summer embrace… and when I ride home on your trains with my paint stained hands and tired eyes, know that I am tired because I want to be awake more than I want to sleep when I’m around you.

 

“Neverland”, Sketchwave Series, No. 77

23 Oct

Neverland

 

The one thing that I loved about Disney, was their continual emphasis on an escape from the normalcy of the real world. In my own childhood, nothing technically was normal, but I did have that desperate desire to escape the reality of my life.  Peter Pan, much like Alice in Wonderland, was a movie in where people got to experience the magic that didn’t exist in the real world, and I so desperately wanted to believe that could happen to me. I was transfixed by this story, and often would wait out my own window as a child in hopes that someone would rescue me to magical land filled with danger, adventure, and friendship.

This piece, which is simply titled “Neverland”, is a part of the sketchwave series in the TENxTENxTEN collection. It, much like Cinderella’s “Blue Reverie” is a piece that embodies the entire story and movie. Here you will find Peter, Michael, Wendy, John, and Tinkerbell floating around symbols, quotes, and words that are specific to the film. In the silhouette you will find references to Captain Hook, Tick-Tock, Smee, and The Jolly Roger. The major reference point words in this piece, are “Believe”, “Dreams”, and “Imagination”, three things that were essential anchor terms for this movie and my wishful nature of my childhood.

“Blue Reverie”, Sketchwave Series, No. 76

26 Mar

Blue Reverie

Following on the coat tails of a sketch wave series of Snow White’s “Happily Ever Neon” (which was created out in my studio in San Francisco at the time), I resumed the series with a piece on Cinderella. This was created about 10 months later, and was worked on simultaneously in Los Angeles, and in my temporary art space at the Ogden in downtown Las Vegas.

Much like like the previous sketchwave piece, this piece, entitled “Blue Reverie” compactly focuses on the entire story of Cinderella into a 14 x 14 piece. “Blue Reverie” was painted with a light blue to reflect Cinderella’s dress (which technically was white, but commonly painted as blue as her dress turned blue from the hue of the moonlight). You will find Lady Tremaine, Anastacia, Drizella, Lucifer, The Fairy Godmother, and Cinderella herself floating around the background of Mickey’s silhouette. Characteristics of the movie like ’12 O’Clock” at Mickey’s crown, as well as the slipper and the outline of the missing slipper (with the comical exclamation of “Missing Shoe! Oh No!”) are just one of the many pinpoints of the movie which whimsically reside in the architecture of Mickey himself. You will also find quotes and icons that revolve around Cinderella and her story inside, around, and outside of Mickey Mouse. In fact, much like “Happily Ever Neon”, I sought to create a piece that didn’t just focus on one ‘easter egg’ hidden concept, but that the piece was entirely made up of a basket of ‘easter eggs’ around the movie. I wanted this piece to provide the viewer a mass of imagery, so that every time they reviewed the piece, they would see something completely different.

I loved the movie Cinderella in concept as the protagonist was possibly the most human of all princesses, and therefore the most relatable. I say this dually about the villain as well. I was ABSOLUTELY terrified of Lady Tremaine because her villainous nature required no magic to offset my reality. This piece resides as No. 86 in the collection, and is being transferred from the “Disney History” series into the modified “Sketchwave Series”.