August 28, 2010
The fine folks from RVCA just put out this cool video documenting the "Of Our Youth" mural I did in Culver City recently with Retna. Also, check out his cover feature in the latest Juxtapoz:
August 15, 2010
And finally the last leg of the trip: Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. I went there as part of Viet Nam the World Tour. Viet Nam is an amazing place, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to go there and meet so many great people. It was very inspiring. Also, I've never seen so many scooters in my life. I painted this mural by the front of Sán Art independent artist space and the offices of the Propeller Group in the Binh Thanh district. It's based on a photo I took of my girlfriend's grandmother, Kosoom. I think her expression here can convey both warmth and strength. I used colors that matched the surrounding environment, so she's a little bit camouflaged from far away. I took the extra time to try and get this piece to look just how I wanted, which was all the more difficult thanks to the heat, humidity, mosquitos, and constant rain. The light gray letters in the background say "KHCATBTONG" which is an abbreviation for something like "concrete cutting". These imitate stamps of similar appearance that can be seen all over the city. Everywhere. The amount of these stamps that are up is insane, so there must be a fairly high demand for that service.
I also painted at a hip hop event there, where I did a little something using local paint (quality European paint isn't really available there) called "Red Fox". This stuff is very difficult to use, so I have sympathy for the local writers. I had fun messing around with it though. The piece in the middle photo above is a painting of me by a Vietnamese writer named Hoang, who came down from Hanoi (Northern Viet Nam) to paint. I felt very honored! He did a great job, especially considering the rain, small size and use of local paint. I really look forward to going back to Viet Nam again someday. Many, many thanks to Matt, Tuan & Phunam of the Propeller Group for the good times and making everything possible, Sán Art, Kooz, Tofu, and the customs lady at the airport who decided to let me go.
August 12, 2010
I left Hawaii for Singapore to participate in the Night Festival, which is an annual cultural event put together by the National museum of Singapore and Theatreworks. I was there with Tyke Witnes as part of VietNam the World Tour, which is an ongoing traveling art project oganized by the Propeller-Group. Along with painting for the festival, I met up with my talented friend Jaba, who lives there and helped secure a good wall to paint at Post-Museum. This is that wall. I have to say it felt very strange painting a mural in Singapore, as it's a huge modern, international city, yet graffiti doesn't really exist there (seriously) and ANY kind of public art whatsoever is a rare sight. Singapore is infamous for its extreme penalties for things as minor as littering, they don't have jury trials, and one can get the death penalty for possessing just about any kind of drugs there (yet somehow alcohol is easily available at all hours?). As you can imagine, acquiring a permanent, visible public wall and painting it with spraypaint is not an easy task. Everything worked out just fine though, and with the support of the folks at Post-Museum and the Propeller group, Tyke and I were able to paint something nice for everyone. I based my piece on a photo I took of a man in Miami last year. He blended right in with the people in the area we painted, called "Little India", which happened to be one of the more vibrant parts of the city.
Thanks again to the Propeller-Group, Theatreworks, Jaba, Soph, Jennifer, Post-Museum, Tyke, and the National Museum of Singapore!
Next stop: Viet Nam
August 11, 2010
In July I went to the opposite side of the globe, leaving Dublin for Hawaii. This was a very short visit, and I only painted one small commissioned piece in Oahu, North Shore at the Wash House recording studio. A could only spend a couple days out there, which was not nearly enough to really experience the place. This piece is based on a photo I took the day before of a local girl named Carissa. Kiro added the extra Hawaiian/Polynesian flavor in the background. Thanks to Skew, Reyes, and all the other fine folks that made it happen.
Next stop: Singapore
This was the second piece I painted in Dublin. It's based on a photo I took of a man in Monterrey, Mexico when I was there for the Seres Queridos project. There are some strong historical and cultural ties between Mexicans and the Irish (e.g. the San Patricios), so it felt especially appropriate to paint him there. Thanks to Shane & Aidan for ground support.
Next stop: Hawaii.
I left Berlin for Dublin, Ireland around the end of June. I was invited to paint for the Kings of Concrete festival there which is an annual city-funded hip hop event. I'm part Irish and had always wanted to go there so this was especially important for me. The piece I painted for the event depicts two hands, one holding the other. It's based on a detail from a painting from 1878 I saw at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts by Gabriel Max titled "the Raising of Jairus' Daughter" (below). The power and gracefulness of the hands stood out to me, and carried as much expression as a portrait. The red hand carries a deeper history of symbology behind it, as the Red Hand of Ulster is an important symbol from Irish mythology. The conflicts in Ireland have not ended and this was my subtle artistic response. Many thanks to Shane and Dave for making it all happen, Amanda, Christo, Sophie, Aidan & Laura, and all the other kind folks I met there.
Right after ArtBasel in Switzerland, I hopped a train with my friend and crewmate Augustine Kofie, and we headed north to go paint some Berlin walls. I provided a little guest appearance during Kofie's painting event there, where I painted a quick portrait of my lovely girlfriend Kim. We also painted a small collaborative mural, where the figure was based on a photo I took of an older Mexican man at a lucha libre match in Phoenix. Berlin welcomed him and didn't even ask to see his papers. Many thanks go to Jaybo Monk of Projectroom, Cathy Boom of StyleMag, Zapato Chachi, and Marco Pho.
Here's a couple videos from Kofie & Projectroom documenting these pieces:
August 10, 2010
This is a large canvas I painted with Retna at Volta 6 during ArtBasel, in Basel Switzerland. Kofie & Mear also displayed with us.
I painted the face of an old lady I saw on the street in downtown Los Angeles. I painted it with the darks and lights inverted, which is something I used to do fairly often but haven't in a while. I was working from a normal uninverted photo, so I had to figure out the darks & lights on the spot which was pretty challenging. Thanks to Rivera & Rivera, LA Art Machine, & Gioacchino for making it all happen.
This is the most recent mural I've painted with Retna in LA/Culver City. The title of the mural is "Of Our Youth", and it's on La Cienega between Washington and Jefferson, on the side of the Graphaids art supply store.
This mural was inspired by the time we spent in Skid Row painting our previous mural together. The figure is based on a photograph we took there of a man named Ralph, or Chato, who had some inspirational words for us on the theme of redemption. The text to the left was quote from our conversation , and reads, "So today I'm trying to change a few things to rectify the situation of my past. So today I'm looking towards the future (of our youth highlighted)"
As usual, I painted the figure, Retna painted the background/text.