October 26, 2016

"Native Son (This Saint Floyd)" : Mural for the Manitou Art Center, Colorado

This is a mural I painted over the Summer, commissioned for The Manitou Art Center (The MAC) in Manitou Springs, Colorado. The mural is a collaboration with my good friend FUSE, a Los Angeles graffiti veteran who began painting in the 1980s with AWR crew before relocating to Colorado in the 90s. 
The mural is based on my photos of legendary and reclusive local artist Floyd Tunson (born 1947), who had a retrospective at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 2013, a couple years before my own exhibition there last year. Tunson is a Colorado native who has been creating art in his Manitou Springs studio for over 30 years. It was a pleasure getting to know him, and I would consider him one of the most inspiring and interesting people I've met. I recognize in him a deep love for creation, experimentation, and a certain shared philosophy that art and life are inseparable.

Many thanks to FUSE & the Masters Family, Floyd & Flo, The Manitou Art Center, Natalie Johnson, Joy Armstrong, Don Goede and all the kind people of Colorado Springs & Manitou Springs who supported with such tremendous positivity. This was one of the most beautiful and welcoming places I've painted.
Thanks as well to the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, Gazette Charities, the City of Manitou Springs, Ben Harvey Financial Group, Manitou Springs Real Estate, Adventures Out West, City Paint, & SunWater Spa

August 4, 2016

"Spark of Divinity": New mural in Sedona for Whole Foods

This is a mural I just recently painted in Sedona, Arizona, commissioned by Whole Foods for their store there. The embracing figures are based on my mother-in-law and her granddaughter. I hope this mural might convey some sense of the positive influence of familial love and joy, as I've seen the impact of these on my mother-in-law while she has been going through cancer treatment the last few years. The mural is also a sort of southwestern homage to one of my favorite artists, the great Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt. The mural is based on a section of Klimt's Beethoven Frieze, from 1902, which was inspired by a Beethoven symphony from 1824, which was inspired by a Friedrich Schiller poem from 1785. That poem, the infamous 'Ode To Joy', begins with the line: 'Joy, beautiful spark of divinity...'

Thanks to my good friend and Arizona aerosol pioneer Mando Rascón for his help with the background designs.
Thanks to Whole Foods and Carlo Carbajal for making such a cool public art project possible.
Thanks to Saichai, Madeleine, Kim, Jorge Bracamonte, Peter Votichenko & the Votichenko family, Marisa Aragon, Fernando Ramos, Corey @ACE, Tamaliza, the good people of Sedona, and anyone else that provided encouragement or support.

June 30, 2016

EL MAC in Morocco

I spent a couple weeks in Morocco recently to paint some small murals as part of the Igloo Hong project (along with an all star team of artists including David Choe, Andrew Hem, Aaron Horkey, Mars 1, Esao Andrews, & DVS1)

The first mural, painted in Agdz (southeastern Morocco), is outside the Casbah des Arts, and is a portrait of Mohamed Ait El Caid ( محمد ايت القيد ). He is a 92 year old man who lives next door to the mural. He is a respected local figure, who once had the first radio in Agdz and would also receive foreign newspapers so he could share the news with local residents. I was impressed with his willingness to be photographed and painted by a strange foreigner 
The second mural, also in Agdz, is based on images of my cat, and is painted on a centuries-old mudbrick kasbah. One can clearly see a great appreciation for cats throughout Morocco. There is a story about the Prophet Muhammad having such affection for cats that he once cut off the sleeve of his robe so as to not disturb his cat, Muezza, who was sleeping on it. Agdz also means 'resting place', so painting a sleeping cat seemed appropriate.
The third wall is further east in Merzouga, at the edge of the Sahara, near the border with Algeria. Andrew Hem painted the background designs for this one. It is based on my photos of Hssain Ahnana ( حساين اهنانا ) who comes from a lineage of Sahrawi nomads and now owns the camping ground (Secret du Sahara) where the mural was painted. He is painted wearing his 'cheche', which is a traditional indigo-dyed head wrap worn by indigenous North African Amazigh/Tuareg/Berber people for protection from the harsh sun and sand. The Tuareg have been known as the 'blue men of the desert' for this. 
Having grown up primarily in another desert (Sonoran) on the other side of the planet, it was fascinating to come to the Saharan Desert and see some of the environmental and cultural parallels, along with the local adaptations for desert life. I hope to make it back someday.

Many thanks to the good people of Morocco, the David Young Choe Foundation + the Igloo Hong team: Dave, Matt, Jy-Ah, Karim, Jason, Paco, Steve, Soufian, and everyone/anyone else that helped out. 

Photos by me except:
2,10-12 by Matt Revelli
6,16 by Dave Choe
9 by Jy-Ah Min
13,15,21 by Paco Raterta

April 25, 2016

"Desert Rose (Nuevas Generaciones)": New mural for Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum

This is a new mural commissioned by the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in Mesa (east Phoenix), Arizona. The mural is painted on a concrete exterior wall of the museum. 
The image is based on my photos of Karen Bracamonte, an immigrant from Guatemala who is married to one of my closest friends. At the time of the reference shoot Karen was roughly seven months pregnant, so in a way, this painting depicts not only her but her baby as well (my soon-to-be godson). 
I was honored to paint for this museum something that can hopefully be seen as beautiful and affirming of love, life, and diversity
My good friend Mando Rascón, longtime Mesa resident and one of the most important graffiti artists in Phoenix since the early-90s, assisted by painting some of the background designs at the top.
Many thanks to Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Tiffany Fairall, Frank Gonzales, my compadres Karen and Ari Bracamonte, Niba DelCastillo, Mando, and anyone else that supported or helped make this possible. 

"Aerosol Exalted", my museum exhibition from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center last year will be traveling to Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. The show will be up May 13- August 7.

Photos 2-5, 9, 10 by Niba DelCastillo

April 7, 2016

NYC subway sketches

Aside from being a Mecca for graffiti artists everywhere, the New York City subway transports an endless flow of humanity that makes it truly one of my favorite places to draw people. There is a vibrant diversity hosted in its aged vascular system that is unlike that of any other public transportation system I know of. 
These are some subway sketches from last year when I was in town working on 'El Regalo Mágico'. Although I usually finish the drawings later, I love the immediacy and challenge of trying to discreetly capture as much as I can of these fleeting moments in time with pencil and paper. These are the 'successes' -what I'm not showing are all the drawings that were interrupted or never completed because somebody either woke up, moved too much, or got off the train.