I am not going to front, Alzheimers is a brutal disease, a destroyer of so much of the balance of life we come to find as we grow older. It comes in raging like a wild runaway truck on fire exploding over and over again only to run head first into a wall and sit dormant until it explodes in motion again. And that is simply on the daily. I am growing accustomed to constant back and forth from West to East Coast at this point, but in all honesty really looking forward to having some aspects of part in all this in concrete so that I can get in the studio on a regular basis and let the art work pour out as I navigate this utterly overwhelming and truly earth shattering reality. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me. I really can’t keep doing this without you, and now that I am in a support role to a parent I cannot express how much it means to have others who are there for me and my practice. More to come. Wanted to check on the real.
I have been decompressing from a really big piece I was in the midst of for a while and am back to the computer land. Here is a photo from my lovely collection spanning a lifetime. This one more recent that many.
I am working on a huge commission right now. I have been involved with making art in the Bay Area and specifically the East Bay for large portions of the last 8 years. Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond and Albany all share a certain groundedness, a certain low fi hum that rattles on into the sunset from the tail pipes of bikers, from the rumble of candy colored raised cars sitting on oversized rims with big sounds, and from the conversations of intelligent soulful creatives that have utilized so many spaces for dialogues of wild intelligence and creative union. This landscape of beautiful blocks inhabited by brilliant minds and hearts creating style, dialect, art and sounds, manifestos, awareness, hustling, and letting sparks fly from big hulking iron sculptures is slowly (or quickly) giving way to a salivating pack of development harbingers lapping at their doors. Some will stay and prosper and profit, most will leave not able to “buy into” the dream which they helped build, some will hunker down and fight the tide, some will always float along under the surface informing the life blood of this place, and some will rise up and grow to new heights either in the Bay or somewhere else and expand on all that they have been a part of here.
I get to be in a moment right now where I document this in the same way I have been documenting life for years. I get to create a work found in the streets and alleys, from old decrepit abandoned Victorians, and empty lots where nature is taking back its bounty, old decommissioned dope spots, and burned out buildings of this great expanse of cultures colliding. I get to paint a portrait as I have come to see this place and touch it and feel it. I get to breathe in the rusted metal of the train tracks with their perfume of tar and dirt, feel the dried vines atop fence posts dating back to horse drawn buggy times, and draw on drawers that were scribbled in pure fits of emotion by children with crayons from desks in old houses long gone.
I do not call this nostalgia, for much of this time I was not here, not even alive for. I call this gratitude. I call this responsibility. I call this a calling. I feel the cool clean air in my veins sometimes when I am away. But then when I breathe in the overpasses as the BART soars by amidst the shriek of cars over head, as a man pulls up to walk into a park on 34th st for a fix, a couple with shredded black t-shirts and band insignias and a pit bull stroll by making way for a group of kids on bright colored scraper bikes, and a woman walks by with her head held high smelling so powerfully amazing as her dreadlocks part the air with a perfumed confidence and the sun soaks into her skin unrivaled by the Gods themselves, I know where I am.
I am in pure gratitude to share a visual love note with this place, made of this place. I can say similar things for other places i have been, but right now, this is all there is.
Missing Ara Jo tonight.
I had the opportunity to show new work at Black Serum in San Francisco’s Mission District recently as curated by a long time colleague and friend. The above painting was one of the pieces I had on display with the show. The last month and half has also seen the creation of a new mural at Littlefield NYC, a trip to North Carolina for personal familial reasons, work on a continuing commissioned installation in Oakland’s Jack London Square, and some headway on future endeavors for the next year to come. Of all of this, the most pressing and demanding has definitely been being back in North Carolina helping with some issues back home. While there is no need to illustrate the realities of age and time in words here, there is a need to step forward in life to make sure that I am present and always ready to put my self aside to be there for those I love. I have nothing but faith that within this action of compassion and purpose all of those things I seek to achieve and create will come to fruition in ways better than I could have imagined. And should they not end up becoming a reality, well then the elements of life that arise from their exit will no doubt be an even more fitting part of the path, as they have proved to be time and time again in the past.
Ceremonies, fire, ritual, collective growth, anxiety, love, passion, thought, manifestation of ideas, and life as it comes to us are all aspects of being that channel their way into my work of late. Time has also been something I have tried to embrace as it is lately. The moments I can invest in the nail biting energy of hard work are not the only passings of time. The steady inner adjustment to the march of time and my abilities and limitations there in have also been in the forefront, seeking to be grateful and helpful despite sometimes feeling powerless and dark. Everything is everything.
I am sitting in Raleigh, NC, on a visit home right now reflecting on the world, life, home, how I got here, and also simple things like how much I dig the new True Detective season with Mahershala Ali, the fact that soda water is the truest refresher there is, and why North Carolina BBQ is so damn good. So many things have been moving through my mind of late. Two projects currently under way in the Bay Area, a huge mural coming up in LA through a Dept. of Cultural Affairs grant, wanting to be in LA more to spend time learning from my mentor there, so many exhibition ideas that have been in the mind’s eye for years starting to become actual possibilities in this reality, there is more.
What happens when we decide to show up for family in times of age and growth, how do we move from a life of 12 years in one place into the next phase of our development. Do our intentions and true direction in life often or always take use where we need to be despite what might seem logical in a mine field of late capitalism, societal structures, and broken status quo idealism? Is it that simple pure energy inside that isn’t about feeling good all the time or convenience or efficiency for the sake of investors, but about truly living, exploring what we have at our fingertips with the bodies and minds we were created in and with, that is our vehicle for truly finding what lays beyond systems of servitude to things that don’e elevate us? I feel alive.
Plain and simple, I feel alive. I am excited about life’s challenges, failures, and successes. I am mostly excited about the fact that through it all we learn, we grow, we become better versions of ourselves if we are willing to embrace the energy that is readily supplied us. I first time in a while feel optimistic despite how fucked up our nation is, as it is doing a sort of final vomit of so much poison that it is inside. Maybe not a final vomit, nothing is final, but something, some tearing and some ripping is happening, and from it comes a new way.
I prayed and meditated and accepted and received the energy of the blood moon the other night. It filled me with a sudden awakened moment of remembering, that energy of choice, to let it fill me and guide me and be the path is always real and always there. So I say work for it, work to stay in it, filled with it, work to go and keep it unfolding and see what sorts of amazing things we can create, share, communicate, love, and find form and formless purity within.
So to all this I say, in a more brass tacks kind of way, there is a lot being made and thought out right now. The response to aging and to the worlds ceaseless suffering and infatuation with it has me moving the opposite direction. There are projects, shows, and even some new endeavors in the works. Reprinting my zine Anime Mixtape again soon, getting ready to keep cranking out some new large paintings and assemblages of smaller works exploring armor, the psyche, patterns, ritual, personal and geographic history as a means of identifying our own multi faceted portraits of existence. The gears keep turning and I am also super grateful to be surrounded in a larger international sense, by a community of amazing creatives and people that support and drive each other to keep reinventing and riding our waves. Lastly i will say, I have some work in a small group show coming up from a long time friend and curator who I am honored always to work with in San Francisco. More to come on that soon… thanks for stopping by.
I have been in the studio when possible, working on a large interior project, planning out future endeavors, and seeking within and in new books and sources of information to continue to learn and grow The new year has arrived, a continuing moment in the narrative of every breath. I am stoked to have a few studio shots and share some more travel images with you. I have been discovering more about myself and my painting and am looking forward to embarking on some new drawings soon as well. Things are shifting, changing, and directions forming and beckoning. Pretty happy to have closed the door on a successful 2018 and be able to look back at one of the best years of my life.
Hey everyone! Since my last update I have busted my ass to get some work to Art Basel with Superchief Gallery for their insane Art Fair infiltration. In the process of creating this piece in a short turn around between coming back to the states with a trip to LA and then back to the Bay to finish a project and paint this piece for Basel, I had very intense conversation with a super close friend and fellow artist about process and truly making art from within. The subsequent painting that went to Basel came from this and is titled A State of Reflection (Armor Studies) as I began to uncover what hides under the surface of my own armor needing to get out and let my real inner power resonate. I feel invigorated in my painting now and have panels lined up and an assemblage installation under way currently.
Literally the day I sent this painting to the East Coast I had to high tail it to the Airport to catch a flight to Hong Kong. For what reason do you ask? Not to work, for once in a long long time. I embarked on a trip to East Asia, HK then to Japan, where the entire purpose was to simply be, travel, experience, learn, eat, and enjoy life. But tbh by the end of it a very close fellow artist and friend had attained an interior wall in Tokyo for me to paint and I welcomed the opportunity to get down. But before any of this happened, and entire trip to Hong Kong and then southern Japan occurred. The food my travel partner and I ate was beyond delicious, beyond soulful. The chilly night air of Fukuoka was amazing. The sites and sounds of Hong Kong were exhaustingly intriguing and down right futuristic, yet firmly planted on a gritty foundation of the past. Blade Runner shit to be sure. Here are some photos to get you started on the journey. In the next installment I will go more in depth about the trip and details of it. Oh and before i forget, Hong Kong had some of the most amazing contemporary art I had seen in some time.
It has only been two a little bit more than two weeks since my show at Runaway in Durham, NC. Life moves in some seriously deep and intense spurts and I have been enjoying the wave of deep productivity and focus. Inevitably in every wave of this level of intention and follow through, a wave of exhaustion and then a wave of promise comes resounding through and must be heeded. Exhaustion is the beautiful harbinger of rest, and promise is the beautiful herald of things to come. So that is to say, I am retooling, letting myself and my mind wander aimlessly a bit, and starting tomorrow getting ready for some work headed to Art Basel and then a trip to Japan starting in a week. Big things coming up, more to come. Here are some images from the trip to East Coast.
My solo exhibition Anime Mixtape opened this past Friday in Durham, NC at the Runaway Flagship store. The reception was something else. I cranked with my friends and art installation assistant until the wee hours of Friday morning and sleeplessly went throughout the day finishing up the details and getting everything smoothed out. The reception was insane, so many good people came out to support and I saw old friends, new friends, family, and folks I had never before met that were fans of the work. I feel hella blessed right now and am about to hit the hay at my father’s house in Raleigh, NC. Here are some images
I’ll get be back wit more posts about the I Magnin commission soon, but I have had some poem ideas circulating in my head. I feel like no time better than the present to take action.
It’s this unrest,
Like the jackals nipping at your heels,
When all they want, short of tearing you from limb from limb from limb
Is a chance to turn you into one of them.
It’s this feeling of panic
In the morning with a bottle of seltzer water,
(I know I am killing the ocean, killing myself)
I ask for some grace,
And the Jackals find a steady pace.
It’s this walk to the door,
I think I’ll pile on another to do,
On a list of undones.
But I keep trying.
-Byron Slomotion IV
This summer I was asked to create a commissioned work for the lobby of the historic IMagnin Building in downtown Oakland. The building was erected in 1931 and designed by architecture firm Weeks and Day. It housed an upscale department store until it closed in 1995. It is an amazingly beautiful green marble art deco building and an official historic Oakland structure. It was recently renovated and as per the renovation I was asked to create a piece for its lobby. Having been a part of the Bay Area and specifically Oakland off and on for the last 12 years I was honored to be asked to do this. The only request was that the piece reflect a vision of Oakland by way of an intimate relationship with this city. I chose to explore this task with a style of found wood assemblage that at one point of my career I was very much known for. A style which I have been slowly re-immersing myself in, thus this was absolutely perfect timing. In this series of blog posts I will go more in depth and explain the project further, my process, my feelings on it, how it came together, the narrative behind, and its installation.
In this first post, it is important to note that as the city of Oakland is developed at an extremely fast pace, as people are displaced and old dwellings torn down in the name of progress, I find it vital to work to save aspect of this physical come metaphysical history from being destroyed and forgotten or lost in the attention deficit short term memory of our accelerated culture. The beginning of this project was a practice in communicating, in listening to the street and letting the city guide me in the collection and discovery of cast away pieces of wood from many different areas. Thus creating a real time based narrative tapestry of tangible objects packed with stories, spirit, energy, and a vibrant history that will continue to transmit its truth from the lobby of the IMagnin building well into the future for Oaklanders new and old to reflect on and investigate. The act of gratitude and humility in turning to this living breathing place steeped in history accepting it’s direction and guidance is one of the most felt experience I get to have as an artist. It is a true conversation with time and my surroundings. To be set on a path to explore and give thanks for those things left behind that are there waiting to be repurposed and given a new place to continue to inspire us is really an honor and something that I do take as a gift. This city has so much to say and this process allows me to hear so much of it and honor that language.
In the next post I will speak more on the construction of the panels and the dialogue felt with the materials as well as how the studio came to be utilized and more of the intuitive and intellectual process of creating the work one step at a time… stay tuned and thank you for reading.
I like to randomly post photos I enjoy from my long running collection of personal photography that I have shot over the years. Landscapes, nudes, crumbling society, portraits, travel, art, moments of life behind the scenes.
There is a lot to be done on this evolving website. A lot of new changes to be made and projects to be reshot and new visions to be posted. A lot is on the horizon including a show in Durham, North Carolina in two weeks titled Anime Mixtape at Runaway. Here is some artwork that is in the show… we’ll catch up soon you and I. -Felix
Just met up with a local SF Artist and rad dude named Matthew Badja at Flywheel in the Haight. Much of his practice consists of Photography and some really cool social practice, street installation work. Anywho, I feel inspired myself to post some photos for you gals guys and gender benders. I hope you enjoy. Please contact me if you would like to have prints of any of these.
I am working on a new zine for an upcoming show this fall. I am pretty excited about it. It will be less direct theme based or hyper specific and be more of a stream of consciousness flow of ideas and creative inspiration and personal history. The may be a frame work into a larger narrative world as an over arching structure but we shall see where it goes thus far. Haven't made one in a long time and really want to create something new. Here are some sample page ideas...
Not long ago a great artist, business man, and friend commissioned me to create "literally whatever you want" as was explained by him. We share a love of anime and manga, a love of expressive painting and art that evokes narrative, feeling, and permits us to explore time and our own emotional content as tied to memory and to the way that certain pieces of our upbringings help us to channel our present and communicate with others. He is a painter as am I, but our languages aesthetically are very different, yet we find so much depth and connection in one another's language. So it was an honor to paint this for him with the freedom to just go in on it. I wanted to craft something that spoke to our mutual love of certain manga, to our mutual reality of facing adversity and through acceptance, hard work, dedication, surrender, passion, persistence, and the duality of chaos and thus finding the space to be still through the journey we call life. This is piece is very special too me. It is so personal and then upon it's delivery my friend Kent who commissioned said to me, "This painting is everything to me." Sometimes we have moments in this cosmic puzzle that really shed light on the fact that existence is so far beyond what we see and think on a daily basis. I am working on editing some better shots of this piece but here are images of this diptych for you to see. It is two panels, both 3'x4', house paint, spray paint, acrylic paint, tempera, pencil, oil pastel, acrylic lacquer, and more. 2018
That's right, the MEGA ANNUAL GROUP SHOW is here at the Tri Lateral Superchief Empire respective headquarters, aka LA NYC and MIAMI! I am so stoked to have been down since 2013 and the movement moves on. I am showing a new but classic piece called Beautiful Future! Sumi Ink on Paper at the LA gallery. And here are some flyers for ya'll as well.... Stay weird you freaks.
Winding through the outpost of the corporate empires. Fueled by the batteries of human machine flesh rubber heat gravel tar amoebic bio morphs. Loved by all who ramble down it's soft rolling spaghetti western landscape. Truckers take part in breaths of the pure spirit. Cowboys sit down on the hot road to become monks in the blazing sun. The clouds create empires and civilizations in the blink of an eye lost by the hawk's wing swells. Turn an eye to time here, as it it stands still yet the traffic moves through the dimensions at hand.
A few photos from our recent trip down the 5 to LA, and a studio shot of a work in progress.