Tag Archives: art

“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,

10SC”

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.

“Abstract Space Invaders”, Contemporary Modern Series, No. 39

17 Nov

 

While viewing the Yayoi Kusama retrospective and the “Fireflies on the Water” exhibit at The Whitney Museum in NYC, I had a chance to view their 2nd floor collection entitled “Signs and Symbols”. In this room I got to see one of my favorite art pieces of all time called “Laughing Boy Rolling” by Steve Wheeler. Mesmerized, I spent 45 minutes walking back in forth in front of this painting, while simultaneously gazing here and there at work of Ted Faiers that hung nearby. I was in heaven primarily because I was seeing for the first time the original works of a rare art movement.

Steve Wheeler was an abstract expressionist that belonged to the sub group called the ‘Indian Space Painters’. While the term is contemporarily deemed politically incorrect, and rightfully so, this subgroup actually paid a positive homage to the cultural style and heritage of Native American art. Steve Wheeler, while born in Slovakia, immigrated to America as a young infant by his parents who were searching for a better life. They resided in New Salem, Pennsylvania, where his father worked as a coal miner in the town. At 16, Wheeler found himself working in his father’s footsteps in the same mines, and claims to have found his calling deep in the dark tunnels of his toiling labor. It was here that Wheeler heard the voice of an oracle deep in the mines telling him of his destiny to be an artist. Steve, now determined to reach this lofty goal, continued to work in the daytime as a coal miner, and educated himself at night as an artist in his small attic bedroom. He then later moved to New York City, and dedicated the first half of his life to being a painter. Wheeler’s executions were geometrically sound and flawless, often going above and beyond in complexity of most cubist abstract expressionists at that time. His attention to detail combined with his clever merging of his influence of Northwest Native American art aesthetic made him a rising star within the small group of Indian Space Painters. He was known as an eccentric, often labeled as arrogant and sometimes even belligerent, but nonetheless a genuis. Wheeler spent the 2nd half of his life as a recluse and for 40 years until his death, he did not paint.

I’m gathering that my obsession over Steve Wheeler had half to do with his incredibly complex and detail oriented work, and half to do with his life and his behavior. The 45 minutes I spent grazing like an obsessed buffoon in front of his work was mostly due to my imaginings of him creating his pieces. I wondered what was going on in his head as he was creating this particular painting. and more importantly, how he felt when he completed it.

I flew back home to my studio in Los Feliz, and mulled around my drafting table for hours. I spent days drafting and redrafting my direction of this movement, consistently focusing and refocusing on my attempt to infuse Northwest Native American elements into an abstract expressionist piece. This is what emerged.

This piece is titled “Abstract Space Invaders” in homage to Steve Wheeler and what I’d like to politically correctly called the “Native American Space Painters”. This is number 44 out of the collection and ties into the Contemporary Modern Series.

“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.

 

 

 

“Diamond Grid Mickey”, Geometric Spectrum Series, No.2, 11/2011

18 Mar

This was immediately followed up right after finishing “Mickey Emits Rainbow Burst”. Originally the pattern in the face was a reversal of the background, but the thin lines of his lower jaw seemed to make the face disappear so I covered it in white. There are remnants of the background slightly underneath the white.

This was something, that I used to be SO uncomfortable with. I liked clean thin lines. I liked perfect solid patterns and spaces, with no history of my mistakes underneath.. however for some reason, I wanted have this inkling of my past tries in this painting, which you can slightly see. This was the first time I liked that idea (and you’ll see in more posts to come, where I eventually went with this).

This is painted with Light Ultramarine Blue (PB2) and CP Cadmium Orange (PO20) with a Fluorescent Orange overlay.

Disney Fine Art has this under “Diamonds are a Mouse’s Best Friend” which is hilarious.