Tag Archives: chicago

“Waltopia”, Odds and Ends Series, No. 98

25 Oct

Nearing the end of the TENxTENxTEN project I decided to hop on to a new venture in art with Leslie Combemale of ArtInsights out in Washington D.C. This project, entitled “Art Outsiders”, was a collection of portraiture work focusing on the people who revolutionized the world in their field. People like Divine, Alan Turing, David Bowie, Judy Garland, Amelia Earhart, and more became portraits in this project… but I wanted to take it a step further.

Before TENxTENxTEN, portraits (which mainly consisted of drag queens) were my main focus in my work. At this time they were just paintings swirling in the background of a sweltering ballet of geometric shapes and rays…. and while I loved doing that.. going back to that style just seemed regressive because I had become so much more complex in my sketchwave style.

The one thing that I sought to do is research the entire story of these amazing individuals and write out their history in the architecture of their portrait. I did this because I wanted to become as transparent as possible with my work so that the viewer wouldn’t question who the person was or what they were about.

Simultaneously working with the Art Outsiders project and TENxTENxTEN project, I realized a hidden parallel between the two and began to do an ode to Walt Disney’s history around Mickey Mouse’s face. This painting, entitled “Waltopia”, starts off the history with the middle main triangle, continues with the left triangle, and ends with the right triangle. It is with this piece that I thank Walt for pushing for innovation in the arts. Without Walt Disney I would never have had the opportunity to showcase my work, as his company (continuing in his tradition)… from the very start, believed that there was something great in me.

This piece closes out the Odds and Ends series, and resides as No. 98 in the collection.

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“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.

 

The Distance Between Two Points, Geometric Spectrum, No. 69

30 Nov

 The Distance Between Two Points

Geometry goes beyond just the mathematics of shapes, but delves into the mathematics of circumstance, time, and connection. Our lives are built on the architecture of non physical, but circumstantial math that begs the question “How did we get here, and how are we connected?” The end piece to the Geometric Spectrum series paints a portrait of metaphysical geometry, closing this chapter as a means to awaken the viewer to the possibilities of our connections.

I started this piece as an accident one afternoon off of St. Marks Place at the Yaffa Cafe in New York City. Having just finished “Susquehanna”, a piece on TransAmerican conversations becoming an integral part of art, I picked up a rolled up blank canvas, and promptly set a coffee cup to flatten out its shape. The coffee cup was wet with its dark brew, and created a stained ring at the top of Mickey’s face. With my head heavy from seeing the multitude of connections created from “Susquehanna”, my view of this coffee stain was more than an accident. This stain existed at this specific time and this location, and therefore would never exist again at this same time and location on this piece. This created a beginning point of geometry where people, time, circumstance, and location formed a shape unknown and unformed until its end creation.

At that time and place, I realized that metaphysical and emotional geometry was a shape I could not see, but I sought to create. I would not know when I was going to complete this, or how it would look, and there was no formula in my life to bring this together.

Here is where it led me, and this is where it was painted:

  1. Yaffa Cafe, NYC, NY (Beginning, 8/25/2013 at 2:00PM)
  2. L Train to Brooklyn, NY
  3. Rented Apartment, Brooklyn, NY (Influence Point)
  4. Flight 2913 NYC to Los Angeles
  5. BRU Cafe, Los Angeles, CA
  6. Edgemont // Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
  7. Flight 783 from Los Angeles to Chicago, IL
  8. Flight 2024 Chicago, IL to Berlin, Germany (Influence Point)
  9. East London Restaurant, Kreuzberg, Berlin
  10. Mehringdamm Flat, Kreuzberg, Berlin (Influence Point)
  11. Flight Schönefeld Airport to ORLY France
  12. Simplon Flat, Northern Paris, France (Influence Point)
  13. Montmarte, Paris
  14. Le Marais, Paris
  15. Flight ORLY France, to Schönefeld, Berlin
  16. East London Restaurant, Kreuzberg, Berlin (Influence Point)
  17. Mehringdamm Flat, Kreuzberg, Berlin 9/26/2013 8:00AM (Influence Point)

The influence points in the location sectors are people who helped me formulate how this piece would form. On the street, in my flat that I was sharing, or just people on the street, I asked “Where should this line go?”, and from there the form of the piece would change. The influence points are pivotal markers in the painting that ultimately changed the direction, and therefore connected the location and the people together.

Geometry is more than just shapes, and it connects us in ways we take for granted. As artists, we are conduits and storytellers that bring images to life by means of other people, time, and places. This painting is a reminder of this geometry that exists in the air within us.

This piece is called “The Distance Between Two Points”, and is the last of the Geometric Spectrum Series. In the top frame you will see two coffee stains. One is the beginning coffee stain, created at Yaffa Cafe, in St. Marks Place in NYC, NY. This stain was created on 8/25/2013. The 2nd coffee stain was created in the Mehringdamm flat in Kreuzberg, Berlin on 9/26/2013 at 8:00AM using the previous days espresso from the East London Restaurant.

This created a time difference of 768 hours (46,080 minutes), and the distance of 3,988.38 miles marking ‘the distance between two points” which is noted in the marriage of these two stains.