I am writing this while in a bungalo at my new friend Kemistry's house about an hour and a half outside of Bangkok in Thailand. I arrived in country two days ago after a bizarre and exhaustingly surreal layover in the outskirts of Beijing, China. I finally arrived to Bangkok and as we descended into the dark thick cloud cover and were engulfed in the dark pulsing green landscape of rice patties and grass I immediately took a deep breath as the power and intense of energy of this place became apparent to me. My first steps in Bangkok were full of more sensory input than I could have ever imagined. This place is a living breathing organism of chaos and total beauty in every way. Rather than go on and on about it I will show a picture a narrative of some of the aspects so far. I just edited a few images thus far so this in no way encapsulates even a fraction of the last couple days, but will definitely immerse you in the journey.
I am sitting at the airport currently. SFO is a second home of sorts for me. A place where I gather my thoughts, I realize areas of my life where I am walking around blind and areas where I am quite aware and awake. It is a place where the noise and frantic activity for me is fluid and calming. I love typing while sitting in this airport. I re-experience many moments of recent and long ago past while I collect myself at this airport. I am currently in the international terminal waiting on a flight to Beijing with China Air and then onward to Bangkok. I have wanted to experience Thailand since I was a kid. I have been looking at galleries, reaching out to people, and slowly working towards a moment where this would be a reality for the past two years. Life is so busy, as I have not done quite the homework I wanted to, but getting there with a solid base is the first step. Who knows what will come together from there. A little over a year ago I was in the Virgin America terminal headed to LAX and then to Tokyo. And so the story goes. Me, my laptop, a moment to look back at the last month of travel and work, the lives I am a part of and that are a part of mine and that I will be apart from for the next two weeks geographically. And so the story continues to go.
A month and a half ago I boarded a plane to fly to LA to help paint a massive mural for the city with an up and coming art star named Kent Yoshimura (click here for NY Times Article About this Project). From there I attended a potluck pool party at Superchief and then to North Carolina for my Grandmother's 90th Birthday celebration which was something beyond description. A powerful occurrence. The to help my mother with Surgery and line up some future art engagements and a show in Durham for 2018. Then boom, to NYC for two weeks where I painted a piece I am really proud of with Superchief NY and was able to spend some deep quality time with some very very special people in my life and get a sense of where I am going right now and where I need to apply energy and focus. Then it was back to the SFO to spend a few days preparing in the Bay for this trip to Thailand. It sounds exhausting, but honestly, it gives me energy and life. There are moments of exhaustion and collapse, only to feel the spirit of the Universe open up as if to say "Explore this world of ours".
I guess the take away from this is that life is meant to be lived. I am going to be meeting and working with some amazing art peeps in Thailand. I have not yet met them in person but was guided into their presence by a very very solid and respected and loved friend I made in the Bay Area Arts Community many years ago. The technicalities of all of this sort of activity are daunting sometimes, but only one aspect. They become just that, a technicality, a part of the process, once the feeling of direction and being fully awake to life leading the way becomes a beacon of the path I am on. I can only speak for myself. These moments of solitude amongst other travelers are precious to me. A moment to stop and see what is working and what needs correction, a moment to recognize that all the bits and pieces of the process are small in light of the channel of experience and energy we are in. Following, or rather being guided by that energy is everything to me. It has kept me sober for six years (officially as of September 1st, 2017). It has helped me become more awake little by little to my own behaviors that keep me disconnected from the light and to those that keep my flowing within the brilliance of the spirit. I look at all of these travelers right now, I think about the projects and new directions I will take and explore with my art and work life when I get back, and I know I am intensely fortunate to be in this channel right now. Most importantly I type and type as the thoughts and unseeable and unexplainable bubble up with a high frequency of internal power and settle into the realization that I am about to have a life changing experience.
If you were able to ream anything from this that makes me very happy. I often write at length in a way that is concerned with an unexplainable side of experience which is kind of a paradox, but nonetheless many get it as they live it, and those that experience life differently still find their parallels. I am about to go deep on a journey right now. The recent travels to get here have shown me new aspects and important evolving positions in life. The love I feel around me continues to overtake my sometimes pessimism and ego, and the work that will be done in building relationships, experience, exploring time and space, and making amazing creative moments together. Word, we definitely all do this together. I am can't wait to find a temple in Thailand and get in touch with those ancient moments of knowledge and energy that open my eyes inside of realms I have not yet known.
So once the Mural i did with Kent Yoshimura and crew was finished it was time for some LA fun. I was so wrecked physically after the mural that I had to give myself a 5 hour session at WiSpa. I got to spend some time with with homies Phil and Michelle, then it was onward to do some gallery hopping with my friend Jessica (also a Superchief Co-Conspirator), then to Superchief where we kicked it, talk about future ideas, had a pool party, as per their August Conceptual Art Show Brilliance, "A Swimming Pool in the Gallery", and then went to Malibu the next day before I headed to NC to see my Grandmother turn 90 (which was awesome btw). I got to hang with all the Superchief Peeps like Bill and Marcella and Taylor and Tubby and Serena and more. It was solid. Like a page out of a future Kerouacian autobiographical adventure chronicle of celebrations of ideas, weirdness, energy, and togetherness. The chief always makes it happen. Here are some photos to give a visual trip.
I have been traveling through the US a bit since the end of July. I was in Los Angeles helping paint a massive 6000 sq ft mural with an amazing young artist there name Kent Yoshimura. Only two and half years deep in his art life and his work is thriving and was commissioned by the city to paint this epic memorial to entertainment and music on the side of the Warner Grand in San Pedro. It was an honor being part of the crew on the project. Joined by Kent, Laura, Weinberger, Paul Juno, and the mystical, elusive, soft spoken shaman known as Rooster, we crushed it in 10 days and were all very happy to celebrate with KBBQ upon its completion.
It was pretty incredible. I look forward to working with all of these people again.
The light of the universe that is always streaming through everything is something that we sometimes have the good fortune of noticing. I am sitting here in SFO right now, as I have many times. I am sitting here in SFO right now, listening to an AA speaker tape, getting grounded, watching all the people talk, and get settled into their seats with their books and devices. I am sitting here in SFO enjoying the reality that I am surrounded by people from all walks of life and culture and backgrounds all co-habitating a space where there is no time, where no one is (despite buying power for seat class) better than one another, where babies cry, where kids laugh, where lovers kiss, where hungry people hope to find something healthy or satisfying to eat, where people in transit are forced to be in a moment of respite and await the next traveling appendage.
I have spent a lot of time in airports throughout my life. My father and mother are both professional dancers and I was hoisted up in the air often as a child. We flew to distant lands in the west and the east. I was given the gift of a certain brand of patience on Singapore Airlines when I was 7, as I was locked into a 14 hour flight as a rambunctious child. Throughout my life, all of these airport memories have created a beautiful narrative of safety, exploration, serenity, inspiration, and the excitement of new experience as well as experience of coming home to the many places where the word "home" has meaning. When I was coming to terms with my alcoholism and was in early recovery when relapse was a chronic, near death issue I experienced the fear of what would happen in airports. The reality of detoxing in airports, being kicked out for my inability to stop drinking, the pain and agony of craving and not being allowed to drink on flights, helped me truly drive home the reality that I am an alcoholic and begin to accept this fact. And since I was given the gift of sobriety, every time I have been in an airport has been filled with the gratitude of being able to be a part of the world, being on the broad highway of the universe, being able to be sober and full of awareness and be so ready to embark on the expansion of this life I get to live. Again here in SFO, I am getting ready to find myself with a group of artists in the LA area working on a massive 8 story mural. Then to "home" in North Carolina to celebrate the continuing life of my amazing Grandmother. I am ready to watch the sunset on the Atlantic ocean, connect with family, and smell the fresh North Carolina air. Then to NYC to connect with deep old friends and find new platforms for creation and collaboration. Then overseas to destinations to soon be disclosed.
I have learned that there is not one moment or place or experience that sets life for the rest of it. I have learned that it is about constant progress, constant reflection, maintenance, and innovation in life, about doing what is healthy and right sized, about making mistakes on the way and accepting and being grateful for them and the lessons we learn. Every time I am in this airport or any airport, I feel the web of inter-connectedness of all things and beings as we move in our paths in and out of and through and with each others narratives and streams of life. The convergence that happens in the airport to me, always reminds me that I am just a human amongst humans, that my problems and successes are no different than others. Here I can just be at peace knowing who I am amongst this beautiful melee of shifting trajectories. Here I can have a moment to find direction in my mind and assess what needs to happen in a very clear state upon arrival.
So I am sitting here in SFO, being reminded of all of these moments in my life that I have found this point. The last couple months of painting, and drawing, and networking, and client work, and meetings and learning have led to this launch. I haven't been posting very much about what is coming up. I have been focussing on some personal things, clearing out some cobwebs of the soul, finding where the direction I am best suited for and hope for will take me. I have been putting forth the work to connect without exhausting myself as I have done in the past. In short there are projects coming up in NC, NYC, and even some possible painting and excitement in Thailand after this summer has ended. There is some talk going on in Chicago and possibly St. Louis. But my eyes and my being are embracing new directions that are helping me expand my abilities and vision beyond galleries and the fine art world, but yet enriching my ability and purpose within those realms as well. I am in a rebirth of a certain kind, my practice has grown and as I sit here in SFO I cannot wait to give it to you all in the world and continue to be a part of the conversation we all are involved in together.
Summer is upon us. Reflecting back on years of making art, the many faces of how that has sustained my life or my life has sustained making art. The spiritual, intellectual, physical pursuit of making art. I have so much to say right now but no way of organizing the thoughts in a proper way to communicate, or maybe I simply don't know what all my thoughts are about right now and need to just visualize and let them all come together to communicate down the road. I will just leave some images for now from years leading up to this moment and hit you back again in the near future... I will be leaving the Bay Area for a bit again soon, I am nervous, but only in that I know some new challenges and new levels are going to be reached and moved through. That's all I got, not really, but all I can paint with words right now.
I have been working out of my space in Oakland recently. I left my Athen B studio space for the home front and all of its open windows and ventilation that it has to offer. It's been quite nice actually. I had no ventilation in my last studio and it made me a bit batty. So here is to sunlight and a breeze and the sound of cars rolling by as I listen to documentaries, anime, and music and paint my heart out... here are a couple recent shots of the studio work space in the raw paired down state it is currently in.
It was amazing. Photos to come...
New huge interior painting from John Felix Arnold inside Littlefield's new Parklife Food and Beer hangout. Part of the new Littlefield expansion.Read More
Tonight, May 19th, 2017, a rad little restaurant in San Francisco's Mission Bay area opens to the public. It is called Dumpling Time and is the brainchild of fast moving SF restauranteur Kash Feng and his interior designer Aya Jessani. I was commissioned to paint a big beautiful 22'x7' piece inside the restaurant specific to the mission and background of Dumpling Time but with my signature flow and style bringing it together in a way that only a Bay Area artist could provide. Go check it out tonight and eat some killer dumplings and peep my large piece as it wraps you up in its world. Dumpling Time is at 11 Division Street in San Francisco CA.
It was a serious pleasure working along side Aya and Kash and chef Edgar to create this and I look forward very much to working with them in the future. It means so much that they support artists here in the Bay Area as so many big entities and new business do not. Big thank you across the board and I am very happy with the result. I will be doing a professional photo shoot of this piece (been crazy busy out of town as of late) but here are some photos of the piece for you viewing pleasure for the time being.
Coming off of the heels of a big project for Littlefield in Gowanus Brooklyn (huge 22'x13' interior commission) I am excited about a groups show that I have two pieces being featured in. I have been working with Stephanie Chefas for well over a year now. She is one of my favorite gallerists with a real intuitive and intelligent vision, and is extremely personable and accountable. It has been a really positive experience working with her continually since late 2015 and this show is no different. I am amongst some amazing artists in this current group show which opens this Friday, May 5th at her gallery in Portland, OR. I am once again honored to be showing also with my friend and Oakland neighbor Kelly Ording, fam for sure and an incredible artist! The roster of this show brings works from myself, Alexandra Becker-Black, Laura Berger, Tanmaya Bingham, Ryan Bubnis, Kellen Chasuk, Kelly Ording, Godeleine de Rosamel, and Ryan Whelan.
In curating this exhibition Chefas selected two pieces from my catalogue that spoke to her sense of connectivity in regard to the mission of the show. A sense of being a part of "the moment" as an individual that cannot exist without the confluence of all beings and energies in the universe wrapping us in it's directional paths. Explorations for sure. Widewalls did a great little write up on the show and I really appreciated the bit they shared about my work. "The work of the American artist John Felix Arnold III is an ever morphing, innovative, multidisciplinary deconstruction and reformation of how we perceive the visual narrative and the way we are all tied together through the energy of the universe." The link below will take you too the article.
The opening reception for ‘A Group Thing’ will be held at Stephanie Chefas Projects on Friday, May 5th from 7-10pm. Stephanie Chefas Projects is located in Portland, Oregon at 305 SE 3rd Avenue on the second floor of the Urban Row building. The exhibition will be on view through May 27, 2017 and is free and open to the public. I am truly looking forward to future involvement with Stephanie Chefas Projects and am really grateful to be in this show with such a strong group of artists.
Over the last 6 years this trip has become a very integral part of my life. Going back to the place I really cut my teeth in to make art and do work and build with the amazing network and squad of amazing souls I am fortunate enough to be close with. As usual the flight is delayed, but I don't generally get super bummed about that, that is pretty low on my importance scale, out of my control entirely. So as it goes, be grateful and make the most of the time, ie write some shit.
It has been five months since I was last in New York. I was in a different place then. I was super raw, I was fractured and in pain, I was in need of some solace and some direction and as usual New York supplied me with this. It is sometimes strange to me that I do not live there anymore. I actually attempted it a couple years ago and the result was to stay in California. But somewhere within in that is the beauty of relationships we find ourselves in and create, or that help create us. I have been show insane amounts of love and support by all my people and energies in NYC ever since in a way that makes me know that home is really just a sense of being we exist in at different stages of our lives.
I am hella excited to go work with my people at Littlefield again, this time doing one of the largest paintings projects I have done to date. I get to be there during one of the nicest times of year and I get to see some folks that I haven't seen in years as I continue to also expand in my recovery 12 step work. Life is a non stop beautiful organism if we let it be. Not three months ago I was hoping to survive just one day at time and now I am back to flying around making art and being sustained by the creative path. That always ebbs and flows but I have some new ideas to put into motion that will no doubt create a level up so to speak. I have been enjoying not being a part of gallery rat race for a while and just focussing on thoughts, skills, ability, and work for others beyond my own internal dialogue.
I'll post photos soon. I have thrown up some images from past travels throughout this post.
So I have been working on two amazing projects for two amazing clients/collectors as of the last couple of months. Soon to be unveiled. Feeling the strong pace of good things happening. I am getting ready to embark on a journey to NYC to paint for long time amazing collaborators and friends the Littlefield owners (Julie and Scott) as they open a new theatre and restaurant. Trying to wrap these two pieces here in the Bay and then head to the city that raised me.
More to come.
It has been almost three months since my last writing. Since the temper of the times showed me what it means to come to a moment of intense reflection and an almost forced departure from beating my drum or marching orders dictated by self. A moment to glow instead of shine, to appreciate the shadow and wander with intention back into the warmth after a long period of time wrought in that chaotic yet dutiful darkness that surrounds and stretches out like quicksand sometimes. A celebration of blood and intimacy, along familial lines that are not bound to genetic connections but spiritual ones as well. It is the lines in the sand that are meant to be blurred, the fixed ratios that change when the path of life's necessities informs us to broaden our concepts of what is possible and admit what is in fact destroying us. When the reality of tasks found in limitation become a beacon for hopeful presence after the affirmation of their lesson to not be repeated, morphing into a water slide of mobility in the soul. Allied with a sense of what can be after admitting what cannot is, I feel, one of the great cornerstones of the adaptable, the progressive spirit, and beyond politics or business but able to pay heed to their inner workings within the society we must deal with in all of its maladjusted, subject to human error difficulty. We are not here to herd ourselves into oblivion, actually I think many are. I watched the election while painting and experiencing a perpetual anxiety attack in my deepest breathes. Now I breath deep of the spirit of presence, I see a path that is not found in my insecure notions of a lack there of, but in an open minded acceptance of abundance and responsibility. The training is life, never deny it and never run from it.
I write a year in review post at this time annually, usually on New Years Eve. This year I am going to change it up a bit. I myself need a little time to reflect and prioritize some things before I can truly go all in and let loose the words that need to be present on the page so this blog. So much hurt and suffering in the world and even in my personal life this year, so much change and growth, so much re positioning. It was a tremendously jagged and unexpected ride, but definitely shook some things loose and I am now able to retune. The great things were great though I must say. Working with Superchief, going to Osaka to work with Mon at BakiBaki's studio in Juso, being home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, sending support to Oakland in the wake of Ara's death, reconnecting with old souls. A lot of good has happened. But alas, I need some time to digest and work through this residency in Durham NC before I can fully immerse myself in it all. Good tings gowan, stay true, keep it moving, be yourself, embrace change, we all do this together.
Spectre Arts Residency Human Bodies Writhing in a Bed of Narrative Language and Spray Paint Explosions.
I have been in the studio for the last 13 days working on some expansions and digging into the history of dance in NC that I am a product of by way of my parents lives in the 1980s and 90s. I have been doing some new studies, just exploring depth and fluidity, drawing, color, building small pieces up as I discover how to bring this into my larger work flow. The work going on in my residency has been slowly bubbling up to the surface for quite some and. It is liberating to explore something far beyond the graphic and abstract, and then see how it can come full circle as part of the whole language I have developed thus far. The content is tied to a very deep point of resonance for me, something I have only in the past few years truly acknowledged that I need to investigate and feel come out due to the way in which it shaped my experience in life to this day. I be painting.
So all good things must come to an end. On the flip side, this year of our lord, 2016, has been a tidal wave of terror and insanity, so I am quite happy that it is coming to an end. As a sign of hope, celebration and creative strength, Language of Memory, that has graced the walls, floors, and open space of Superchief Gallery LA is up until the end of tomorrow night. So tomorrow Saturday, December 10th our buddy Bill Dunleavy, along with Dana, Mickey, Oscar, Taylor, Maddy and the Butter That Bread Crew will be hosting a closing party for what has been an awesome show. It is from 7-10 or later, I wish I could be there but I am in Durham, NC doing a residency right now. We recently received a great write up from CHPTR Media via Phil Nacionales. He really nailed the scope of the show, the influences, the background, the purpose, intention, everything, and gave us a really positive review. you can peep it here...
It was seriously an amazing experience being in LA and working on this while the world continued to explode and rip it's own guts our of it's mouth and ass and just generally go ape shit all around us. I was painting the large black and white amoebic Astroknot on the wall while Trump was being elected president. In light of recent events in Oakland I am dedicating this show to Ara Jo and the all those lost in the tragedy at the Ghostship, and to all the artists in our community that face even more diversity now as the eyes of the system and developers see a further way in to force us into their maze. Language of Memory is for all of us that evolve and move forward to love and try to make the world a more interesting, shared place. I hope you go and experience it in it's last day. Here are some photos of production, the show, and the opening that happened on November 12th and more. Big thanks to Bill and Marcella, Erica, Dana, Nathan from Boston, Travis, Oscar, Mickey, Maddison, and Chloe for helping make this happen!