Tag Archives: mickey mouse

“A Brush With History”, Battle of the Senses Series, No. 73

27 Mar

560O0119B A Brush with History 14x14

I’m a collector.

Some people might call me partial hoarder now that I think about it.

I’m very specific about the things that I collect, and most of it has to do with art projects. I’d say the problem lies in the fact that these projects that I have yet to do … have been incomplete for the past 20 years.

Example: I’ve collected every bottle of medication that’s ever been prescribed to me since I was a teenager. I’ve been collecting them for 2 decades in the idea that I was going to create a giant Lucille Ball made out of these items.

Has it happened?

Absolutely not.

Will it happen?

Well, I hope so.

I go back to the idea that I would have never become a painter, if it wasn’t for the fact that I carried a pack of 7 canvases across the US in the various places I lived until my fateful beginning as an artist in San Francisco.

I’ll never forget the time that I acquired them. I was an associate at Pearl Art & Supply in the Northern sector of Atlanta, GA when we received a bad batch of canvases. They had acquired, in-between holding and shipment, a bit of mold damage from the warehouse in Ft. Lauderdale. I dived in the dumpster for them rather than let them go to waste.. .. and then spent 6 years trucking them around various apartments in Atlanta, Raleigh, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

I’ll also never forget the time that I put them to use. Six years later, it was that one fateful day after an art show off of Belcher Street where I got the idea of painting a drag queen named Putanesca. I took the bus to the Chinatown tunnel, and walked up the flight of stairs to my apartment at 625 Bush Street. I grabbed the canvases out from underneath my bed that I used as storage and said

“See! I use things”

This piece is also about that process of collecting. This piece is an amalgam of brushes that I used for EVERY TENxTENxTEN portrait created. These are beyond objects to me as they carry time stamps for every moment created, and its a blessing and a curse that I remember all this information. These were used in the following apartments:

1. 7027 Lanewood Ave (Hollywood)
2. 1929 N. Vermont Ave (Los Feliz, Los Angeles)
3. 642 Natoma Street (San Francisco)
4. 1630 N. Edgemont Street (Los Feliz ADJ, Los Angeles)
5. 150 N. Las Vegas Blvd (Arts District, Las Vegas)

Beyond that, they were used during the following times:

2011
1. Le Marais, Paris
2. Cafe 101, Hollywood, CA
3. Brite Spot Diner, Echo Park Los Angeles, CA
4. Disney Consumer Product Campus, Glendale, CA
5. Ambrose and Hillhurst, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA
6. Hollywood Blvd and New Hampshire, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA
7. Plummer Park, West Hollywood, CA
8. Fairfax and Melrose, Los Angeles, CA
9. Wilshire Blvd and S. Stanley, Los Angeles, CA

2012

10. LA – NYC Flight
11. Cafe Viand, Upper West Side, NYC
12. Cafe Yaffa, East Village, NYC
13. CPW and 79th, Upper West Side, NYC
14. NYC – LA Flight
15. Hotel, Schaumberg, IL
16. Hotel, Woodland Hills, IL
17. Speakeasy Apartment, Chicago, IL
18. LA – LV Flight
19. Circus Circus, Las Vegas, NV
20. LV – LA Flight
21. LA – ATL Flight
22. Piedmont Apartment, Atlanta, GA
23. Midtown, Atlanta, GA
24. ATL – LA Flight

2013

25. Sparky’s Diner, San Francisco, CA
26. Diamond and 18th, San Francisco, CA
27. Grocery Store, 8th and Natoma, San Francisco, CA
28. SF – SEA Flight
29. Capitol Hill Apartment, Seattle, WA
30. SEA – SF Flight
31. Park Bench, Barnsdall Art Park, Los Angeles, CA
32. LA to SAC flight
33. Embassy Suites, Oldtown Sacramento
34. K and Front Street, Sacramento
35. SAC to LA flight
36. Marriott Hotel, Anaheim, CA
37. D23 Convention Center, Anaheim, CA
38. LA to DC Flight
39. Adams Morgan, Washington DC
40. Apartment, Washington DC
41. Megabus DC – PHILA
42. Fishtown, Philadelphia, PA
43. Museum District, Philadelphia, PA
44. Dunkin Donuts, Central Philadelphia, PA
45. NJ Transit Train, Phila – NYC,
46. Miss Vee’s Apartment, Brooklyn, NY
47. Cafe Yaffa, East Village, NY (again)
48. NYC – LA Flight
49. LA – Chicago – Berlin Flight
50. Apartment, Yorckstraße and Mehringdamm, Kreuzberg, Berlin
51. Einstein Kaffe, Obentrautstraße, Kreuzberg, Berlin
52. Apartment, Prenzlauerberg, Berlin
53. East London Restaurant, Mehringdamm, Kreuzberg, Berlin
54. Berlin – Paris Flight
55. Simplon Apartment, Arrondissement 18, Paris
56. Montmarte, Paris
57. Centre De Pompidou, Paris
58. Paris – Berlin Flight
59. Schonenberg, Berlin
60. Turkish Den, Neukolln, Berlin
61. Berlin – LA Flight
62. 707 Fremont Street, Las Vegas, NV
63. Abigail’s Porch, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA
64. Matt’s DTLA loft, Los Angeles, CA

In finishing this piece, I think back to that original statement I had made in that apartment in Hollywood California in 2011. I said, in doing the TENxTENxTEN project, I was going to reveal Mickey Mouse in as many ways as possible, and in doing so I would find the artist underneath. When I look at this piece, I see all the places I have been.. all the places I have painted, and all the people I have met along the way. I see the people I have loved, and the people I have lost. I see the world unfolded and then unfurled before my very eyes .I am so happy to be a part of this project, and this piece is a testament to that pride.

This is called “A Brush With History”. It is the 4th in the “Odds and Ends” Series, and No. 83 in the collection.

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“Cotton Candy Universe”, The Human Condition Series, No. 71

10 Mar

Cotton Candy Universe

 

Post Berlin I was in a haze. Everything was a massive blur from the chaotic wonderment that encapsulated me there. I suppose I was a bit heartbroken about the matter, and this was because throughout my life I’ve always connected when I’ve been disconnected from wherever I called my home.

A friend I had met in Berlin decided to visit me nearly three weeks later from my departure from his city. I decided to return the favor in showing him the sights of my home in Los Angeles since he had been so gracious to do the same in Berlin.

In my time with him, we traveled around Los Angeles. Steadfast in my project with TENxTENxTEN I carried a blank Mickey around with me to figure out what feeling or chapter I was going to paint about in our adventures.

His main focus in all of this was a vacation of sorts for both him and I, and I was to relax. Of course, I made whatever this focus was for him, to further my aesthetic into my project. We decided to leave my home in Los Feliz, and we rented a house on the boardwalk of Venice Beach.

While there, he walked the boardwalk in the daytime, and I sat in the front patio of the house painting around Mickey’s silhouette, minutely struggling to come up with a concept of our adventures.. and this came to mind. I decided to focus on BLISS, that ever incredible feeling of just being in felicity of one’s surroundings.

We traveled from Venice Beach to Palm Springs a day later, and I spent the remainder of this piece painting in the quiet breeze of the desert.

This painting represents the calm from the wild storms of heartache and anxiety. In here, Mickey is floating among tranquil bubbles and soft arching hot air balloons that quietly smooth around the circumference of a cotton candy universe. This piece speaks of that vacationing quiet that soothes the troubled heart and calms the quelling mind of life’s trials and tribulations. This is the 79th in TENxTENxTEN collection, and number 9 in “The Human Condition Series.

 

ITEM AVAILABLE HERE

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.

“Cazador De Sueños”, Contemporary Modern Series, No. 65

9 Oct

Cazador De Sueños 14x14

Further abandoning the sacred line and the safety of an enclosed geometric shape, I studied the formats of Neo-Expressionism and its dismissal of perfecting the ‘known object’. This is a hard concept when it comes to an icon like Mickey that does, for the most part, rely on its known shape to be considered authentic. Sure the shape can change to the aesthetic of the artist, and we’ve seen this with many artists (Ex: Keith Haring, Ron English, etc) and Mickey Mouse in the past… but formulating my own voice and aesthetic in a Neo-Expressionist fashion, without compromising the structure of the tenxtenxten regulations (the silhouette must remain the same)… well… it was just a different story.

In coming up with own voice, I decided to research through the pathways of one of the most notorious Neo-Expressionist painters, Jean-Michel Basquiat. This was somewhat of a dichotomous subject, as Basquiat’s work was mostly on sociopolitical gatherings rather than commercial commentary. Furthermore the idea of Mickey Mouse integrated as a main subject HAD to appear mentally salubrious to the viewer.

This provided a challenge.

I realized that this was a focus on aesthetic rather than actual parallel communicative content to Basquiat’s vision, and pushed further through the piece painting it as a surface level execution. This piece asks the question, how would a Neo-Expressionist painter approach the idea of visiting Disneyland and paint his or her transgressive experience?

That very question was answered in this piece.

This is called “Cazador de Sueños”, which means “Dream Hunter” in Spanish. It reflects an abstract vision of visiting Disneyland in Anaheim, California. There are areas here that relate to Disney such as “Main Street”, “Downtown”, “Parade” and “Fireworks! Ooh! Ahh! Yay! Kaboom!”, and carries familiar words associated with its brand like “Vista” on the left hand side and “Buena” on the right hand side (Buena Vista). There are two hats which say “Lost” and “Found” which represents beyond the surface level idea of a department, and more hones in on that ‘lost’ feeling we so often get in our lives, and that ‘found’ happiness we have when we visit the park. Beyond that, the central most hat with the eye represents an opened consciousness when coming to the park.. and that newfound vision of bliss we see when entering the park and enjoying all that Disneyland has to offer.

This comes as number 8 in the Contemporary Modern Series, and is number 74 in the TENxTENxTEN collection.

“Infinite Summer”, Human Condition Series, No. 62

14 Sep

560O0103C Infinite Summer 14x14

A few months ago I was commissioned to create a piece that would imbue the idea of hope. My mind twirled 360 degrees around the moon and beyond the stars over this idea, because to me hope was such a complex emotion.

As an adult, when I envisioned the idea of hope, my mind went to the business side of things. It created stories around charts and graphs, where I would see the protagonist arrow travel through the treacherous canyons and hills of a crisis to reach the upper right corner land of ‘hopeful’ profit and productivity of the present. I felt shallow because I knew hope stretched beyond the realms of the boardroom.

I tried again and again, and began to get frustrated over the complexity of this emotion. Everything I came up with too specific and untranslatable.

And then it hit me.

Hope wasn’t complex.

Hope was quite simple.

It was the situations that proved to be complex and out of shape. It was kind of like my understanding of a higher power. I put so many situational events and interpretations of how I was supposed to believe in something greater than myself. .. that the very idea of a higher being became too overwhelming to understand because I believed it to be too complex for me to process. But that was just it. ..

It wasn’t complex..

It was quite simple.

The belief of a higher power existed, and in that understanding, the idea of it became straightforward. It was the people that made it complex. Thats kind of how hope worked for me. Having hope wasn’t neccessarily a complicated emotion.. it was the situations where I needed hope that were beyond my control and therefore made it convoluted.

I focused back on this idea when looking at the piece and closed my eyes. I took this into a color context, as I rely on the psychology of color to communicate to a color seeing world. My client wanted hope over their ailments of life so I used the following colors of blue, yellow, and green.

In looking at all these colors together and what they objectively spoke about, I realized their relation to hope and how they connected me to my past and my beginnings of how I began to first have this feeling.

Growing up in Marietta, Georgia I often felt afraid, confused, and misunderstood. As I’ve mentioned in many blogs before, I spent most of my youth sitting on my bay window at night and looking at the lights of the distant city of Atlanta grow from the top of the hill at night. I dreamed that in those lights were places that would tell me not to be afraid. I spent many nights staring for hours and romanticizing about getting out of my town and moving to a place where people understood me.

It was in this, that I had hope.

When things got incredibly bad as a child I would run out into the yard to beg whatever magical force to take me away from where I lived. I’d lay out in the lawn for hours and stare at the sun and clouds and talk to the sky to strike up a bargain for my ticket out of where I lived. I would imagine, that someone eventually would hear me, and the grass and all its army of millions of legs, … would begin to move my body down the lawn, out of my town, and past my county line.

And while the grass never moved me, I did plant the seeds to manifest my reality. .. I eventually, when the opportunity became available, left Marietta, GA*.. and I traveled all over the United States and found understanding, conquered fear, settled confusion, and found the love I so desperately sought.

In this piece, called “Infinite Summer”, I chose to use these three colors as a nostalgic amulet for hope. The blue represents the sky I used to stare at. The yellow shards represent the sun that I used to converse with. The green waves represent the grass that I prayed would transport me away from my situation. Furthermore, I found specific meanings of the color to the client (as seen below)

1. Light Ultramarine Blue [PB29 + (PW6 x 2)] is the color of protection. In Greek Mythology, it was believed that the Gods on Mt. Olympus created the sky blue to let mortals know that they were protected. It was a color to ward off evil. In our path in life where hope is over our ailments, we often need protection to keep on keepin’ on.

2. Brilliant Yellow [PY86] / Diarylide Yellow [HR-70]. This represented the vibrancy of light, and was believed in pagan times to be a direct link to the power of life.

3. Spring Green [(PG7 + (PY86 x2)] Condensed Spring Green [PG7 + PY86]. This was an objective relation to color to grass and leaves that multiple religions used to emphasize the feeling of healing and renewal.

While I have never spoken to the client as this was a piece commissioned from one of the galleries that carries my work, I hope they find hope in this creation… as I did creating it. Hope is not complex. Hope is what carries us from point A to B to N to Z and beyond. Hope is what keeps us living.

Hope is having life.

This is the 9th in the “Human Condition” series, and serves as the 71st in the TENxTENxTEN collection.

*Disclaimer: Marietta, GA is a wonderful place to many people. I must emphasize that just because I did not fare well there does not mean its a terrible place.

“Stay Gold”, Loveless Letters Series, No. 53

18 Apr

"Stay Gold"

A few years ago I was a temp at Disney Consumer Products in Glendale, California.I was new to Los Angeles, fresh from traveling in between Seattle and San Francisco trying to find a place to call a home. I was a hopeful artist, showing in small cafes, bars,  and LBGT centers. In my head, being a painter was only ever going to be a hobby, and never and actualized profession. But, lo and behold, that one fateful day, when an administrative assistant passed my compacted cubicle and saw my paintings of drag queens of the glorious West Coast.. that my life began.

Since getting the chance to show my craft, my life has been filled with endless hours of work to prove myself. I hit the ground running from the swelling of interest, and I’ve worked hard night and day to build a foundation of work. In this time period I’ve had many rewards and accomplishes met, as well as great heartbreak and criticism. This just comes with the craft.

In saying this, I was asked in an interview a while back on how I came to be an artist, and what I found to be ‘the formula’ for staying relevant in an age of such quickening information. No longer are we subjected to a longer lasting semi-permanence through a flip of a magazine page, as we are .05 seconds of an interest before a person clicks the mouse away from our images. We are less than semi permanent, and therefore have to strive to work harder to be seen. I responded “well.. I don’t think there really is such a formula that attends to all of us as artists, I think.. personally, that everything is different for each aesthetic and person.. and really.. even when it comes down to… next Tuesday, that formula could change entirely for myself.”

I reflected back to that answer on March 22nd, 2013, when I was met with a change in my artistic course. I thought earnestly on how, exactly, at that moment, what the (or my) formula was. So, at that moment, around 3:00am I grabbed a can of spray paint, headed into the back yard of my San Francisco studio, and began to map out a formula for artists.

This, by no means, pertains to all of us, and if anything, is more of a satire of that question asked.

This piece is a ‘formula for stayin’ gold as an artist in the world’. Mickey Mouse and the surrounding background is a dense sea of percentages that equal 100% of different attributes to this plan. They are as followed

  • 1% Pop Culture Knowledge
  • 4% Color Theory
  • 2% Caffeine
  • 1% Form
  • 6% Imagination
  • 0.7% Luck
  • 3% Believing in Yourself
  • 1.1% Balance
  • 0.2% Have an Angle
  • 0.8% Fear
  • 7% Vision
  • 2.1% Good Taste!
  • 11% Marketing
  • 7% Skill
  • 2% Psychology
  • 2% Reading, Writing, Arithmetic
  • 5% Ego Wrangling
  • 0.1% A Proper Education From an Arts University
  • 3.4% The Right Kind of Paint and/or Medium
  • 2% Dimension
  • 1.7% Sociology
  • 4.2% A Really Good Review and/or PR
  • 7.7% Growth
  • 25% Handling Rejection

Inside the face is a letter

“March 22nd, 2013. 600 Block of Natoma St. SOMA District, San Francisco

I laid down a formula in gold of percentages equaling 100% of how to remain solid as an artist in the world. Granted 60% of percentages are made up… but maybe 40% of it is actually true. Every second these percentages change in front of me. They fluctuate like the tide. Some get lost in the sea, catching trains in the undercurrent to be valid in some other artist’s actualities and eyes. Across the ocean to far away lands where paint grows on trees and brushes never break and multiply by the thousands. Those sorts of things and such. The only percentages that never changes is 7% vision and 1% form. Oh yeah. And 2% caffeine. Coffee is gold for the soul”..

This is the 5th in the “Loveless Letters Series”, and 61st in the collection.

“Still Life With Mountains”, Geometric Spectrum Series, No. 52

8 Apr

"Still Life With Mountains"

As I grow closer to the close of this series, my ideas on symmetry, the VERY foundation of this chapter, grows further and further away from my safety zones. I suppose I have become sentimental about the progress of my work throughout this project now that I’ve gone past 60 pieces. This is primarily because I have seen such exponential growth in my aesthetic as this project unfolds. I never knew just how far this project would take me, but when you think about it, that this is a project where you really have to think beyond your normal scope to make this face unique and different each time… well when I look back, its just incredible that it has happened.

This piece was originally going to be about the emotion of ‘Insanity’ but as this unfolded at my desk in my San Francisco studio, I realized that this vision had to be expanded for a geometric piece instead. I felt that working in anything but this pattern would be a disservice to the piece, and began to saturate the entirety of the canvas in this fashion.

This is called “Still Life with Mountains”, and is a landscape breakdown in geometric form of mountain ranges of different colors that zipper and kaleidoscope around  and inside  his face. It is a blend of chaos and calculation in a primary color scale that make up a geometric foundation for the series. This is the 9th in the “Geometric Spectrum Series” and No. 60 in the TENxTENxTEN collection