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 have made a lot of art. I have made a lot of art that meant a lot to me and that I found to be next level, but has not really had much of a response amongst my audience. I have likewise made things that a lot of people seem to love and I myself am into but don't find that next level depth in and can just sort of enjoy as a pretty picture over time, nothing wrong with that. Then there are the pieces that seem to sync up with all of it. The universe surrounds excites and we all lift up in a movement from the connection.
Here are some works I haven't show a whole lot that seem to have done all three.
I have been keeping up with a changing world, a changing mind, changing emotions, and a changing landscape of relevance in a faster shifting universe. I haven't had a moment to sit down and focus on a year in review for 2017 and a look for 2018 but I will once I get the chance. Last year was powerful, it saw a shift in intent, practice, identity, purpose, internal demons come the fuel of work and the emergence of new energy for connection, and the scope of what I can accomplish and see in this world. Needless to say it was a year of lessons, it was a year of healing, a year of seeing, a year of discovery, a year of acceptance, and a year of moving forward as I aim to progress horizontally rather than vertically in the soup of humanity. I want to revisit an art form I was once really into, the spoken and written word, and will try to post written material for you as regularly as possible from here on out. I have been thinking in terms of poetry and abstract thought assemblage to inform a narrative with images from my collection of experience so here. goes a first installment. This is about 2017...
Nature Grains Scraping the Rapture of Good Sense,
Unloaded Time Clock Inflight Navigation Fiddles,
The Temporal Space against the Clock, to find a portion of Endlessness that Suits me,
Divorced from Self Pity and asking to be removed of Self Seeking Motives,
Drowning in the Light of a Bathed Child,
Nurturing Thought amongst the Incompetence of Ego,
Fly Solo but Always Missing and Loving Partners in the Dramatic Screenplay of Times Embrace,
Kanye West and Hospital Floors Dripping in Fluids of Shakier Times,
The Sun Creeping in Through Windows while Fresh Thoughts of What Can I do rather than What Must I Do begin to swirl with a Reckoning of Spirit through my Blood,
Old Man Logan Ain't Coming Round Here No More, But He is Never Really Gone,
A Love Found in Freedom and Movement Parallel to none Before,
Solace Found in Smells and Sizzles of Mixed Chopped Salty Goodness,
Solace Found in the Flesh of I Just Met You and our Magnetism is Made for Right Now,
Solace Found in the Laughs and Smiles and Glimmers of those Perfect Moments Set Free from Time's U-Lock,
A Vehicle for Growth Finds it's Transitory Ticket Holder Whose Roots are Strong Enough to be torn up yet never forget the Soil They Come From,
I just Want to find the Best Plate of Stewed Pork Leg so I can Give it Another Wanderer Whose Purpose is so Clear.
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.
I should actually say California Livin'. Yes, as many had the foresight into, I am back in California... It was a necessary adventure to go to the East Coast and to really know if I truly want to live in NYC again, to truly end and get closure on 8 years of wondering. And I now have closure, I love my part time NYC citizenship, I love visiting and bringing some sunshine and love with me there, and working on amazing projects and art adventures and eating pizza and reconnecting with my friends in that amazing metropolis. But in all honesty, my New York changed a long time ago, it is not the place my heart is anymore as far as where I wan to live full time, as far as where I am needed full time and where I belong on a day to day basis. I love my life in Oakland far to much and very quickly realized I had taken much of it for granted, so I write this with a deep sense of closure and love knowing that life is full of growth and experiences that allow us to find ourselves. No matter how hard it seems during the process, growth and finding the true knowledge of self and place in the universe is what life is all about to me. Now back to the art making, to exploring this amazing state I live in, and spending time building with the world... its good to have roots, the foundation is happy.
As I sit in my brother's apartment in the Prospect Park section of Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY I get to reflect on my trip and larger life in this city. Some places just tell stories and we are fortunate enough to add and blend stories with them. Yesterday I shot down the tracks of Q line tunnels, feeling the metal behemoth of a subway car bounce and shake and juke and jive and twist and undulate, eating track and time and space as it barreled into Union Square. Switching to the 4 train to shoot up to 86 and Lex so as to buy my pension of bagels to bring back to California (because lets be frank about it, in comparison Cali bagels suck, end of story) I embarked on my trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I hadn't been to the MET in over ten years and was ecstatic at the chance to walk into those huge, inspiring halls and view one of the most amazing collections of art assembled on this earth. Samurai Armor, Modern Painting, Tanguy, Giacometi, medieval weapons from the Middle East, African Masks, Tibetan Paintings and sculptures from long ago, absolutely amazing.
The show was awesome. Triangle Magic was received really well I thought. The reception was very successful I felt, and the conversations I experienced about the work were informative and really helpful. People dug the work and really felt that it was a good step, one that shows a lot of growth and change and forward movement. It was so good to see everyone who came through. Many generations of people in my life here came and hung out, and one of my NYC family spun great music all night long. The next day lunch with Littlefield owner Julie Kim and my Mom was absolutely awesome, and then a VIP comped trip to the New York City Ballet made for a truly mind blowing experience. Within two days I felt like I had experienced more life than I do in months on end sometimes. Life is good.
I lived in New York city for a long long time. I lived here as a child in the mid to late eighties and then from 1998-2006. There is something to be said for the ways in which this city communicates, the speed and agility with which the people negotiate every second with each other, the amount of activity and productivity that occurs, and the general attitude of "you tell me no, then you watch me make it happen". This place was a major hand in raising me. I learned how to the navigate the world from the 8 years of living here I embarked on at age 18. I went through hell and heaven here, and it was in fact a very, very different place when I resided here, but all the elements of how to navigate the hustle are still here and are not going anywhere. In short, New York will be here. To quote Kareem Bunton "New York ain't goin' no where Felix."
Now at 33, 7 years of living in the Bay Area, every time I come back to New York I can't help but feel that it is much more "home" than anywhere else in a lot of ways. I don't mean to come off sounding like one of those people who moves here and three years later says "I'm from New York." That drives me crazy. When asked where I am from it is hard to explain because I lived half my life here until the age of 26 so it is rather complex saga of growth and evolution. But it does still feel like home. When you spend your formative years in a place for a long time, it carries a sense of home with it. I learned how to think on my feet here, how to love, how to fight, how battle the world, how to negotiate, how find the good in bad situations, how to be hopefully, how to be realistic but remain optimistic out of necessity, how to accept, how to multi task, how to deal with life at a speed and an intensity that to many is unfathomable here. I was taught the ropes by some greats like Nature Boy Jim Kelly and Kareem Bunton. I had lovers, some rather older than me that taught me so much about love and life. And I was surrounded by a thriving art and creative culture that was specific to its place in time and what New York City was when I was here. I just don't see it in its full glory anymore when I come back, but I know it is there just below the surface and always (I hope) will be.
The one consistent thing about New York City is that it is always changing. That is what New York is, change. I left my jaded, grudge heavy, disdain for what the L.E.S., or Williamsburg, or the East Village "was and had become" behind a while ago. And so it is amazing to see my friends and family that live here, which are deep and expansive, getting married, moving into adulthood, all growing together, becoming important parts of the city itself. Who knows I may move back at some point.
Every time I come back here the salsa music blasting from the bodega, the Jamaican accents and voices overpowering all other sounds on the sidewalk, the rush of perfection in taste and texture from a slice of pizza, cars driving by booming the latest hit on Hot 97, the hipster fashion show that is Havemeyer on a Friday night, the sound of tattoo machines at Flyrite Tattoo, the old worldly sound of Hassidic conversations and singing walking down Willoughby Ave, the greetings from the staff at real deal Izakaya spot Yakitori Taisho, bring me back into a dialogue that I have been a part of since 1986. I love this city, I love many cities, but this city is forever woven into the fabric of my being. In addition it is a beautiful thing to see and know all these years later that I am woven in the fabric of its beings, that things I have been a part of and done here have had an effect on its history and its evolution. The generation of creatives that I am a part of from here has done a lot to shape and change the landscape of this place. Every time I come back as soon as I stop and smell the air, smell the burnt electricity of the subway and the smell of Gyro stands and the perfume of a fine ass woman passing by, I thank god for home.
Sometimes I haveta use this blog to just speak my damn mind, cause its like a bubblin pot of gumbo ready get eating and savored and shit, and analyzed and rethought. This has been a pretty amazing ride in a short amount of time entering 2012. I haveta say life has thrown more at me, good and bad, than almost any other time in my life, but the amazing part seems to be this new found ability to cope, handle, stay on task, and move forward positively instead of falling back into old habits.
Sometimes I agree with the phrase youth is wasted on the young, but right now I don't because I am not that old and because I am glad I did all (almost all lol still have those selective "what ifs" for sure that I know I will hold onto for a long time) the things I have done and walked through all of the fire as well as ice cream cake I have in my life. This show coming up in New York (Eat Peter to Feed Paul @ Littlefield) and the show I just had in SF (The Love of All Above @ Queens Nails) are really a grounds for me to give appreciation to both places for really nurturing me through some of the best and hardest times I have ever known. SF was a good foundation for me to lose it, in everyway (shit got dark yo lol) then rebuild, and New York was a beautiful pot luck of inspiration, temptation, and trial and error that I get to thankfully go give back to now with a good head, and right fit mind on my shoulders. In other words I am ready to fucking rock this show in New York, not in a overblown big headed way, in a thoughtful, right step, calm and collected, do it well and go hard sort of way. I asked God (my god at least) to please help me get back there someday when I first moved to the Bay, and now after years of becoming a much more "fit to live" person, it is all happening.
I know a lot of people who are very close to me right now that are going through some tough times, very tough times, myself included to a certain degree, and I want to make this trip and this show an experience that demonstrates how appreciative I am for my life and those around me that make it amazing. We are all in this together, and we have to do all of this together, there is no other way to truly make things amazing. Self will only gets one so far. Building with others and living in love, or at least appreciating the little things and the big ones and always trying to make others know they are appreciated is what makes movements and creates change on a massive scale. I am coming home New York, get ready because it is a whole different approach to getting on that tar mac this time. Much Love to Everyone, they know who they are! NGO! John Felix Arnold III
So I am about to put the finishing touches on what I feel to be the most fulfilling piece of mine to date. It is a culmination of specifically the past five or six years of foresight into what I want to make art about and how I want to make it tuned with the vivid memories or rust and decay I experienced throughout my child hood and my overall view on the progression of humanity in the world we live in presently. The piece is an 8'x3' panel made of all found pieces of debris creating an assemblage canvas which I then attacked with a multitude of media. In short I put a lot of heart and soul and love and inspiration, a lot of life experience and happiness and anguish all rolled into it, and long hours at night into this baby.
Not only is it a painting but it is also an integral component to the Altar Piece Installation I am making in Queens Nails for the awesome show I have coming up entitled "The Love of All Above". A new installment in the Unstoppable Tomorrow : The World of Future Antiquity Series, "The Love of All Above" aims to integrate the paintings and detail work into the actual installation more so there is really no distinction between the Installation Piece and the indiviual paintings that can exist outside of it while it is presented as an environment. This will in turn create a truly more realized piece of my imaginary future world for the viewer to experience. Also the performances will be conceptually and aesthetically streamlined with the art piece in a true collaborative effort creating a page out of the graphic novel future/past world of Unstoppable Tomorrow, that I set out to have the audience revel in. There will be performances by Joel and Rhea St. Julien, the Daylight Curfew Crew, and Kool Kid Kreyola who will also be helping in the production of the installation piece.
This new panel has been an enormous breakthrough in that I have realized the culmination of concepts,ideas and techniques I have been trying to bring together and they are all finally working to create this world in the eye of the viewer on many levels. It can exist on its own as an art piece, but will truly be understood when it is seen built into one of the flanks of the installation, as a narrative, historical and mythological story telling device to aid in the full experience of praise and performance for "The Love of All Above". If you think back to ancient Japanese wall tapestries or screens depicting battles, and daily life, or back to Durer with his prints of biblical monstrosities or the four horsemen, or even back as far as the cave paintings, then you look at comic books, and and super hero related material, or even sports memorabilia with its larger than life, almost Greek God qualities, you will see the common threads things being depicted that one day have an importance and a legend or mythology behind them that is highly influential and sometimes God like. Taking this into consideration one will begin to understand that by creating this piece in the way it was realized, I am making my own epic, narrative stamp to be translated into myth hopefully a thousand years from now, but in the present it acts as a cohesive story telling platform through a multi media art practice that can exist on many levels for a wide range of audiences and demands thought and interaction in some form wherever and however it is encountered in its lifetime. It was derived from all of the eight million stories in my mind while listening to a documentary about Charles Mingus and how his music is all about the conversation he is having with his fellow players and the audience. Nuff Said. "The Love of All Above" , February 4th, 2012, Queens Nails Projects, more to come...Felix