Traveling the Inseam of California

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.


Newly Edited Thailand Photos.

I had the pleasure and opportunity of going to Thailand in September. It was my first foray into South East Asia (for those that read my blog consistently you saw my previous posts). I finally have been editing the images I shot with my DSLR there and am excited to post a continuation here now. Can't wait to go back and produce some art there.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

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Royal Palace

Royal Palace



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Outside of Bangkok

Outside of Bangkok

Bad Ass Women making Donuts in blistering hot weather, on the way to Ayutthaya.

Bad Ass Women making Donuts in blistering hot weather, on the way to Ayutthaya.



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Updating the World.

The show in Denver was excellent.  The guys at Black Book Gallery are awesome to work with and I had a great time.  It was also great to see FFDG's Rachel Ralph and my buddy Max Kauffman who is also my studio mate at the show who were both in town from the Bay Area.  Got that Bay Love!   I will post photos of the show as soon as I edit them but for now I am going to give you some randoms. _DSC0356


So fall is upon us.  And my big show at Joseph Gross Gallery this November is approaching fast.  I want to give a big major shout out to my super close artist pal Jet Martinez who is actually showing there next month! He is prolific and if you haven't checked him out yet get into it!  And moving forward my solo show with work that is so fucking raw is opening on November 5th and I am so excited.  I am also flying to Ireland shortly after that to see my partner in crime who is currently living in Dublin.  I have never been and am definitely looking forward to it.  Also get ready for some store updates and some new work projects I have on the way... all good things are coming.


this is my partner in crime ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


Amorphous City

2013-10-01 07.22.50 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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.




MWolfe-JohnFelixArnoldIII-MOMA-Print-14 So I haven't written a blog post of rambling ferocity in a while.  Maybe this one won't be furiously written because I do not find myself furious about anything today.  Let's suffice to say that life is good right now.  While there are always ups and downs, the world we live in is constantly in a realm of serene chaos and force fully calm bedlam, I find myself right now knowing that I am just where I should be as an artist and a person in this world we all share.  Recent events in travel, meditation, love, art making, work, and self work have led me to a place of growth and understanding that I have never really known before.


This year has been absolutely unbelievable as I find myself in process and in the present so much more than I have ever been.  I have awakened over the past few years to the understanding that today really is not the end of the world, that decisions made today are not going to the be the end all be all of life, but that being said they do all matter, and all create the whole sum of working parts that have allowed me, day by day, to be given the life I now have.  To make work that I love to make, to get excited every day about the possibilities that the future holds and believe that the sky is the limit as long as I am rooted in creating and not ego.


When I arrived home from Japan, the most amazing experience I have had in my life to date to say the least, I quickly enjoyed the opening of the largest accomplishment of my art career to date.  The SFMOMA exhibition, "In Memory Of..." opened June 8th, 3 weeks after I returned from my month residency.  The roller coaster of life shot up pretty high, and then afterward it was on to Minneapolis for a month of work for the non-profit that is my day job and helps to support my art career in an effort to not exhaust my presence and my ideas too quickly and keep me financially intact (burnout syndrome is the worst syndrome).


Upon this trip in the middle of America I experienced the drop of the roller coaster so to speak.  The pit of my stomach stuck in the Mall of America felt like it was eating itself from the inside out. And it was beautiful in all of its anxious, low, depressive glory, for I knew that this is the balance that is life.  The scales will always weigh themselves out even in the long run if we just keep our ear to the street and smell the air with each step.  While inside it was painful to have gone up so high and then down so low, it was amazing to experience all of these things without any substances, without anything to change the way I was feeling.  The gifts of sobriety I must say are the most beautiful and true gifts I have received in my life.  Listening to Yeezus on the light rail wishing I was back in Japan watching the toxic, dripping heart of America go by on my way to the church of consumerism made me really understand that I am fit for this lifetime. I am right sized and in my place.

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A new found love and affection has recently come into my life, and has made me really grateful for everything that I have ever been through.  Whether it was being locked up and in central bookings reflecting on how to not live life, being so twisted on drugs and alcohol that I would end up in the E.R. with tubes and fluids going in me while I was somewhere in a pain so deep it almost consumed me, or going bowling with friends, or drawing a figure that every mark made me feel a sort of explosive, orgasmic love of life,  or on a mountain top in Japan in a Buddhist Temple making love to a beautiful woman on the tatami floor and then going in a hot spring, or driving to Pt. Reyes with my partner engrossing ourselves in one another's lives and stories.  Like I said on stage right before Japanther performed at my "Past From the Blast" show in 2011 at Kitsch, "We All Do This Together!"


It is a beautiful thing when one can reconcile and be allowed to understand their purpose in this lifetime, in this phase of the energy that we are part of while on this earth.  When one can lean back and close their eyes and smile because they know what the universe has asked of them and they seek with their entire life until the end to fulfill that mission. I rest happy every night knowing that I am meant to make art, to create things for humanity to experience, to share my world and my perspective on the world, and to be a conduit of creation for a power and an energy so much larger than myself, that I still am a part of, that we are all a part of.


It's awesome to know that my purpose is to bring people together, to open eyes, to challenge sight and thought, to excite and entertain, to love and be loved.  It feels amazing every time I create something new, or get a flood of ideas and plans into my psyche about where my work, where the work that the universe wants to flood through me, is going and what possibilities I am going to share with those dear to me as we all march on and trudge the road to happy destiny!  It is true, "We All Do This Together!" And I would have it now other way.  Love life, live this life, because its the only you get in this lifetime... Thanks for reading! -John Felix Arnold III  P.S. Horiyoshi III in the image below definitely shares my thoughts on this, we kicked it hard in his studio, his energy is infectious, dude is the fucking man!!!!!



The Adventure in Japan Part 2 : Painting Commission and More...

So the latter half of my trip was begun with a painting commission for a native New Yorker.  My friend I-Am-Jesse, a killer DJ who has resided in Japan for many years now, hit me up around the same time I was contacted by Ken South Rock to make a painting for his amazing Shibuya apartment.  I crashed at my good friends Frankie and Emi's house for a couple days near Shinjuku as I began to work on the piece, and then made it over to Jesse's in Shibuya to finish.  Upon completion my last few days in Japan were numbered and the insanity ensued.  The latter half of the trip was full of art making, book buying, amazing food, awesome city lurking, people watching, mad partying, building new relationships with some amazing artists, spending time with really good old friends, and all around general mayhem.  I was even introduced to a group of artists who run an alternative space called Spes-Lab in Ebisu, Tokyo, and was coincidentally invited to come back in the Spring to rock a solo venture at the space.  I was dumbfounded, honored, intimidated, and pretty much floored when I was asked to do this, as I have always wanted to have something like this come about and had never imagined it would be this soon.  Big thank you to everyone and everything that made this experience possible.  It was amazing.

The video store near Frankie and Emi's crib was pretty cool.  I was into the character design on this one and...

I found John Rambo in Japan.  Japambo!  Then I found the "adult section"  holy shit, craziness.  Also they have some truly bizarre and intense porn out there...

This temple is right down the street from Frankie and Emi's place.  One of the most amazing things about cities like Tokyo is that you are bombarded with a truly modern even futuristic high tech setting all the time.  Yet every few blocks you are reminded of the city's rich, thousands of years of history shown in structures and places like this amidst the Blade Runneresque developments.

Super sick monk statue at a temple in the middle of Tokyo.

Temple Graveyard near Frankie and Emi's.

So after the graveyard it was time to get to work and start painting my commission...

Commission Painting Stage one at Frankie and Emi's House.

And then...

So I got the back ground worked up to where I really liked it at Frankie and Emi's place.  Honestly once I got it to this point, I seriously considered not taking it any further for I felt I had never gotten an abstract piece to this level before and really questioned letting it just be.  It felt good to just sit there and stare at and it felt balanced, so I took a break and distracted myself with other things like...

Talking deliriously to Emi's stuffed animal friends, like this pig, and...

Watching Frankie and Emi come in from the hottest fucking day of all time and totally zone out on the couch as the air conditioner cooled them down to "human" levels.

Then it was time to get on the bus to go to DJ I-Am-Jesse's crib and finish working on this piece.

I had to get some sushi before I got back to work.  This was a wopping $7. True Talk.

I-Am-Jesse's crib in Shibuya, sickkkk!

Sayin cheese for my own lens.

So after a lot of pondering, a lot of reference research, and a lot of plain old compositional thinking, I started putting down line work.  It literally took about three hours of looking and adjusting the direction and order of the two panels to finally make my first marks.

Work table in full effect.

And boom, just about finished product.


Right Panel Detail

Right Panel Detail

Finished Paintings.

What a view from I-Am-Jesse's Crib.  Talk about an amazing place to make art!

Shake Weight is even weirder in Japan!  Japanese TV time.  The pieces are still "Untitled"  but they as a Diptych should just be called "Dream Adventure" because that's what this trip was. Each Panel was about 2'x3' and the paintings were a mixture of spray paint, house paint, and plastic model kit enamel. Here are a couple more shots.

Left Side Panel "Things Do What They Will" I think I should call it.

And the right panel should be called "Learning How to Fill My Lungs".

So the night I finished the commission we went out on the town, and we ended up at the amazing Spes-Lab.

Next Post to Come.  Japan part 3!!! The final installment, Spes-Lab, Yoyogi Park, and getting weird all the way to Haneda airport.

Japan Was Major! Ken South Rocks Hardest!

Ken Minami at 5 am, Haneda Airport Train Station. The Journey Begins.

I was on tour with the amazingly talented, hard working, and inspiring duo of Ken Minami and Adam Amram, known as Ken South Rock recently.  In one of the most surprising events I have ever experienced, I was asked to go on tour with them in the end of 2011, that tour being in July 2012.  They proposed that I come on the road with them armed with pain, markers, and my enthusiasm and energy, and make a live painting on stage while they performed at every show I was there for.  They asked me to be a hype mane, dance, sing back ups some times, and make awesome art onstage while being crazy.

Adam Amram, John Felix Arnold III, and Ken Minami, in Kyoto @ Dewey Live House. 07/24/2012

These are all things that come very naturally to me, so I happily obliged.   Aside from the three of us, Ken's awesome wife Chiaki (who was like out translator and our therapist lol) came along and an amazing photographer named Walter Wlordrzyck to document the adventure. We traveled from Tokyo to Kamisuwa to Gifu to Nagoya to Osaka to Kyoto and then I embarked back to Tokyo to work on a different project in Shibuya as they continued on further south.  I believe they are in Taiwan at the time of this blog post, and all I can say is that these guys go hard as fuck and that it was truly an honor to be a part of such an amazing happening.

Temple Detail near Ken and Chiaki's Apartment, near Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Every single city was awesome, each having a speciality food they are known for.  As I peered out of the windows of many trains we took along the journey, I was ceaselessly bombarded with sublime, and serene countryside, mountain scape, village to town to city views, and a non stop show of visual amazement.  The lushness and glow of the green in the mountain side views is no where close to being replicated in these images.

Out of the train window on our way to Gifu from Kamisuwa.

We ate amazing food that, to my surprise, came from convenience stores, mini marts, hole in the wall train station cookeries, 7/11s and more.  We laughed a lot, we tried to sleep, we even were enswathed by scores of school girls in the train cars that had no idea of where we had come and what we were doing, but were none the less totally blown away by the whole thing.  I have so much more to tell you guys, and so many photos I have to go through, but here is a good lead in blog post to begin to get the whole memory of this truly surreal experience into your eyes, and a good chance for me to begin regrouping and figuring out whats next after such an amazing experience.

School Girl Mob on the Train traveling from Gifu to Nagoya.

The Beautiful Yui from Suichu Blanco, the awesome band we went on Tour with.

I can't lie, I am kind of depressed on the daily that I am not there anymore, that I am surrounded by insane amounts of American over consumption,  Escalades and Hummers driving by with one person inside, by a culture that revels in "fucking shit it up" just for the sake of doing so, and an overwhelming sense of people trying to get over on one another where, "its not my problem" is the motto.

The amazing Chiaki "Cheese" Minami and Walter Wlodarcyck on a train headed for Osaka.

Gyoza in Nagoya.

I love my country and I love my group of people that I am in the struggle with, but there are a lot of things I now realize that I am not okay with since I have gained some perspective. The food thing is also killing me.  I ate so much healthy food, even literally from convenience stores, that tasted so good, with no growth horomones or anything, and now it is hard to get used to that food coma feeling I get here in the states after eating even small things.  I have a lot of material to get back in the studio with now!  I am very grateful for that!

Super Awesome Street Festival, I beleive part of the beginning of a month long festival to honor the dead in Osaka.  This was right in the middle of an intersection.

Oh, and Osaka was definitely my favorite city hands down all around.  The food is unbelievable.