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I was able to visit both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro over the last couple weeks. Really amazing places, and both very different from each other. It's interesting to come fro the Chicago where public space is regulated quite harshly, to a place like Rio where public and city space are designated for public painting at any time of day or night. There is no buff. Locals, including law enforcement, hardly even noticed me while painting. Needless to say there is an incredible amount of graffiti by writers from all over the world. A lot of it very old. I was also surprised to find out that it is not common for writers to go over each other here. It is a communal approach for writers and artists to continue to find new places to paint. This was also very shocking to me considering the saturation of artists here. Despite the amount of people, writers, and already existing public art, I still found it incredibly easy to locate places to paint without hassle from anyone. Everyone I connected with was very humble and down to paint. The economy in Brazil is crumbling pretty hard and that makes it harder for locals to be able to afford things like spray paint. With an extreme gap in the class system of high and low, street crime is very common. While equally grimey and gorgeous, the people exude an extremely rich energy when it comes to art, music, dance and all creative outlets. I was in awe seeing the amount of Pixo everywhere. I don't think I've ever seen so much graffiti at once in such a condensed proximity while still being visible in every neighborhood. To say it was "crushed" would be a vast understatement.
Every time I go to New York I come back feeling recharged, and motivated in the strongest way. It's such an energetic palace to say the least, and home to so many great artists, writers, musicians, and creators of every type. It's hard to not feel like a nostalgic tourist in the middle of it all. Hung out with some friends, made some new ones, painted, experienced late night deli sandwich bodegas, and certainly did not sleep enough. I fell short on my "to do" list so I will be back soon.
I made it back out to Detroit for the second time to do some exploring and painting with Shel/Del Real Ink. I'm still amazed at how much abandonment exists there, and that despite there being so much graffiti from all over the world, there are still places that remain untouched. It's also nice to come across pieces that have been riding for 10 years from people that I look up to. I have to shout Jaime Sanchez AKA Bazooka Films for being a tour guide and also showing us where to eat. He does a great job documenting the urban decay as well as graffiti in Detroit.
I was invited to participate in the "Living like kings" Exhibit at the World Chess Hall of fame in St. Louis, MO. I wasn't familiar with the WCHOF prior, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it's an amazing institution that hosts global chess tournaments, lessons, as well as exhibits pertaining to the game in various forms. The exhibit opened in October, with an artist painting a new mural each month based around the concept of each chess piece. I was the last one to paint wrapping up the project. The official opening was the largest crowd they have drawn to date, including attendance from the RZA. I can't speak enough to how pleasant everyone here was to work with. Incredibly nice people. A must see if you're in St. Louis.
Nice one and Lady Lucx's take on the Knight.
Daniel Burnett curated the mural portion of the exhibit and also painted this great piece depicting the Pawn.
Chris Burch's rendition of the Rook.
My version of the King, being supported by his empire.
Detail of a Peat Wollager boom box mural.
Studio visit with the talented Alicia La Chance. I'm really diggin on her work. It was great to meet her and see the work up close.
I got to drop by the Screwed Arts Collective studio. Super cool and talented guys. They all have very different styles, yet manage to do some incredible collaborative mural work. Lots of love for these guys.
Found some time to do some exploring.
An unfinished piece from Killer Napkins.
Nick Schleicher at Millitzer Gallery.
I was super stoked to get to see some Jeremy Rabus paintings in person. I think it's fair to say we vibe off each other. This photo does not do his work justice. He's a master of pushing and pulling color.
I got to escape the blizzard in Chicago this past weekend and head to L.A. to link up and collaborate with Codak and Asylm on a wall in L.A.'s downtown arts district. It's always great to collaborate and get out of the comfort zone and work with like minded people. It was cool to see Codak's studio, paintings, flics, old blackbooks, etc. Codak is obviously known for his abstract, geometric, "organomics" style, but for anyone who doesn't know, has a long history of painting letters/conventional graffiti as well.
Ekundayo opening at Thinkspace gallery.
I came across a video interview with Chaz Bojorquez, and there's a line he said that really resonated with me. "A line that speaks about identity, dignity, and unity; that line is art."
I often get asked where my style comes from, and my response is that it comes from the way I paint graffiti/my letters. But where I'm at now, has taken the letters out of the process, and leaves it at how I make my lines. I feel that everyone has a unique way of making lines, the same way everyone has a unique form of handwriting, etc. My abstract work is a derivative of the way I learned to paint through writing graffiti and painting pieces. All the time spent working in that way helped me practice making lines, practice color theory, develop a sense of composition, and ultimately what I would like to call a style. I think this progression of process is easily visible to other graffiti writers, but maybe not so for those not familiar with the craft.
I had the chance to meet and talk with Chaz last year while he was in town for his solo show at the National Museum of Mexican Art. It was really re-inspiring to hear his experiences and challenges from decades ago and see some parallels with my own path as an artist, concerning the fusion of graffiti, letter form, studio practice, acceptance in an art world outside of graffiti writers, and acceptance from Mexican artists/muralists. It was even more inspiring to see he is such a humble person after all his career accomplishments.
I'm honored to be showing some work this year at EXPO Chicago at the National Museum of Mexican Art booth.
Quick and simple, but fun nonetheless.
A couple of random pieces from 2005. The process of painting a wild style is what really pulled me in to exploring painting as a medium. It's spontaneous, it's action painting, it's fast paced, and provides instant gratification. And most importantly it was a lot of fun.
I was going through my archives and came across these collage pieces from a couple years back, I made them for some DJ friends in exchange for playing some tunes for one of my shows. They were inspired by record grooves. Each piece is 6"x6" mounted on wood panels.
I did some quick, experimental, collaborative pieces with my friend Miguel Del Real a few months back over the winter. I think our styles of painting work well together. We'll be continuing some more experiments.
I spent some time in Colorado Springs earlier this year as I was a part of the exhibit at IDEA Space at Colorado College, Rhythm Nations. I got to meet and collaborate with artist Jaque Fragua on an old VW Van. He's a pretty fresh, and he schooled me on a lot of Native American history. I also got to catch up with a longtime friend Jolt 68 and paint a collaborative wall in Denver. Really great trip with some amazing people. I really have to thank Jessica Hunter Larsen, Idris Goodwin, and Briget Heidmous for making it happen.
Three years ago to the day...