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.

March 23, 2016

"Enduring Spell" : New mural for the University of California, San Diego

This is a new mural commissioned by the University of California, San Diego. The mural is titled "An Enduring Spell" and is located at the interior courtyard of Argo Hall, on UC San Diego's Revelle College campus. The namesake of the college is the late oceanographer Roger Revelle, one of the first scientists to study climate change:

The ocean holds me in an enduring spell. Part of the spell comes from mystery – the fourfold mystery of the shoreline, the surface, the horizon, and the timeless motion of the sea. At the horizon, where my line of sight touches the edge of the great globe itself, I watch ships slowly disappear, first the hulls then the tall masts, bound on voyages to unknown ports 10,000 miles away. From beyond the horizon come the waves that break rhythmically on the beach, sounding now loud, now soft, as they did long before I was born and as they will in the far future. The restless, ever-changing ocean is timeless on the scale of my life, and this also is a mystery.

- Roger Revelle, 1969

The majority of my life so far has been spent in cities either by the Pacific Ocean or in the Sonoran Desert, and I think my familiarity with the two environments and their contrasts has instilled a deep appreciation in me for both. 
The ocean, with all its unexplored depths, can inspire us to ponder the immensity of this world and our place in it. Our smallness next to the ocean demands our humility and respect. The ocean allows life, sustains our existence, and so we love it and are indebted to it, forever connected to it.
This sense of fascination and connection with the sea was my inspiration for this work

This and my mural for Northeastern University in Boston last year were both important projects for me, as one of my motivations for painting public art is to uplift and inspire others the way I was uplifted and inspired by great art when I was young. Painting murals for learning institutions is a chance to create art that will become part of the landscape for thousands of students, and I am grateful for these opportunities to impart some artistic soul in such important places.

Many thanks to UCSD, Emily Desai, Juli Smith, and anyone else that helped make this possible.
Photos by Eric Heights

February 15, 2016

"El Regalo Mágico" : new mural in NYC with Cero Design

This is a mural I created last year in New York City with my friends Celso González and Roberto Biaggi from CERO Design out of Puerto Rico. The title of the mural, "El Regalo Mágico/The Magic Gift", refers to the gift of inspiration. The figure is based on my photos of respected Nuyorican author Nicholasa Mohr, who lives nearby, and is known for being one of the first widely published Latina authors in the United States.
Cero's part, the geometric infinity pattern that forms a halo around the figure, is composed entirely of tile mosaic. When the creation of so much public art now is streamlined for quantity over quality, it's encouraging to see the time and dedication that goes into their work.
It was a pleasure to work with such talented people, and join forces with an intent to create something that can hopefully offer some inspiration, pride and empowerment.
The mural is located in "El Barrio", East Harlem, on the side of a large elementary school at 111th Street and Lexington Avenue. It faces the First Spanish Methodist Church that once served as the headquarters for the Puerto Rican youth organization the Young Lords.
The mural was created as part of a public arts project called MonumentArt, curated by Celso Gonzalez and presented by la Marqueta Retoña initiative, with the support of city council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Many thanks to Nicholasa, Celso and Roberto of CERO Design, Melissa, Calma, Jose, 2Alas, Billy and anyone else that supported.
Special thanks also to Eric Heights for his assistance and documentation of this mural. Further thanks to David Joseph Perez (1st + 7th photos), Martha Cooper (3rd photo), Parlour Productions, and Daniel Weintraub (8th + 9th photos) for additional documentation.

Short video by Eric Heights:

December 16, 2015

"Thread of Life" : New mural in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

These are photos of my most recent mural painted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as part of the Igloo Hong Project. It is based on my photographs of a local Khmer artisan named Moeun Thary, who hand-embroiders traditional Khmer ceremonial garments. The ring of designs behind her is from one of her pieces.
The mural is on the north-facing end of a large housing complex from the 1960s called the White Building, known for its community of low-income tenants and artists. Since I had the opportunity to paint such a large, visible wall in a place where there are seemingly no other large scale murals like it, I felt an extra sense of responsibility to paint something beautiful, meaningful, and uplifting.
This mural honors Cambodia's artists, both contemporary and those lost during the Cambodian genocide of the mid to late 1970s, when nearly all of the country's creative population was targeted and murdered by the regime.
I hope this mural can serve as a respectful tribute to the importance and perseverance of Cambodia's creative legacy, and possibly, in some small way, offer inspiration for younger Cambodian artists to sustain this legacy.

Many thanks to the Igloo Hong project, the David Young Choe Foundation, Moeun, Dave, Matt, Dylan, Chally, Ashley & Ruben at Hotel Omana, Tuan, Paco, Steve, Jason, Kaye, and everyone else that helped make this mural possible. Much love to Cambodia. Shout outs to Aryz, James, Rhode & Esao.
(the 4th, 5th and last photo were taken by Paco Raterta)