Monday, January 31, 2011

a page from the black show

ten years ago in january 2001, i had a show in raleigh, nc (my home town), titled "the black show."  it also ran at morning glory cafe in flagstaff a little bit after that.  one of my influences at that time was peter beard.  i'd just seen his show in soho and was blown away by it.  i used to write stories around the margins of photos and send them to friends as postcards.  in fact, i've a buddy in san francisco whose kitchen in his cottage bungalow was a gallery of postcards i'd sent him over like a 10 year period.  maybe longer.  i think his wife made him take them all down now.  but, after seeing peter beard's show, i started playing with the images more, drawing on them, gluing stuff onto the images and writing directly on the print.  thank you peter beard.  

i came across my portfolio of images from "the black show" recently.  i'd forgotten i had it.  it made me smile to go through the images again.  in total, there are 15 images.  i decided that i'll celebrate black history month this year by scanning and uploading to my blog a page from the black show over the course of the month of february.

happy black history month!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

homelessness in albuquerque

i just completed 2 installations in albuquerque, nm.  rick rinne arranged for me to go big on 2 buildings.  i'm still not sure what he does but he told me a program he's spearheading to place homeless people in homes.  i asked what the size of the homeless population is here.  out of 524,000 people in the city, there are approximately 16,000 homeless people.  i asked if the population varies seasonally.  rick wasn't sure.  the program rick is heading to get the homeless homes is program that comes out of new york city.  unfortunately, i can't remember what it's called.

today while installing on the 4th street plaza at creative albuquerque, we got to hang out while homeless people gathered to receive meals.  there were maybe 200 people there at one point getting food.  it was great interacting with them and describing the wheat pasting process.

meanwhile, it was crazy bopping around the city at 2 miles an hour on the life.  in taking the lift out of the underground garage i almost hit a parked police car and managed to hit the guide rail of the garage door such that the door got stuck 3 feet from the ground.  o well.  it occurred to me that i should probably have a permit or something to operate that thing on city streets.

mad love to wendy johnson, rick rinne, suzanne sbarge, andriana! + ernest doty.  i couldn't have done it without you guys.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

jamaal flying 1, 2, 3

"3 kings"

albuquerque king, ernest doty, assisted me today with the installation "jamaal flying 1, 2, 3." in this image, he just finished painting the 3rd + final crown.

thank you for the love albuquerque!

Friday, January 28, 2011

photo;  james q martin
abstraction:  jetsonorama

Thursday, January 27, 2011

kinda blu

long before the la moca controversy i was feeling blu.  in fact, i'm a happy owner of one of his lithographs.  it's the piece he did in 2008 on the tate for the street art show there.  i just received in the mail a compilation dvd of early animations (pre muto), sketches and videos from the last 10 years.  he's a genius.  but to watch him attack a big wall with an extension ladder and roller with an extended handle is an opportunity to witness skill + passion in action.

Monday, January 17, 2011

with chris stain in albuquerque yesterday

the highlight of 2010 was taking part in the 516 street arts show in albuquerque, nm.  (i'm surprised i didn't write about it before now.)  it was an absolutely amazing week being in the gallery around artists who i look up to.  the energy in that space was so good.  people were really supportive and engaging.  i loved hearing about other people's work and then watch them as they completed a thought process over the course of a week.

i went back to albuquerque yesterday and met up with wendy johnson (who assisted me installing this show), eugene doty (in the house), and fran searer who organized the show.  (love to you guys.  it was great reconnecting with you.) 

of the 3 outdoor pieces i put up for this show 4 months ago, this is the only one up still.  i thought it'd be quick to go.  but, a wheat paster must know his/her wall.  even though this is an eastward facing wall getting morning and early afternoon sun, it's a super smooth and regular, painted concrete surface.  it get's the brunt of storms coming in from the east.  (fortunately, most come from the west, northwest.)    

i was shocked to see that my homemade wheat paste is still rocking this big ass piece on this big ass wall despite all the rain albuquerque had this fall and winter.  but i shouldn't be surprised.  the photo is of two, tough navajo women who know about survival.

yeah, yeah baby!

martin luther king, jr day

back in 1987 or so while finishing my family practice residency in toledo, oh, i went out one night in the parkwood neighborhood and wrote on an abandoned building "...thank you dr. king.  i am a dreamer too."

24 years later, i'm still a dreamer.

after pasting lucy + john's house last night, wendy + i hit the town today.  it was nice pasting with someone who assisted me this summer on sanctioned walls such that she knew what to do and how quickly it needed to be done on an unsanctioned wall.

happy mlk, jr day.

(top:  chip thomas
bottom:  wendy johnson)

Sunday, January 16, 2011


my friends, lucy + john, live in santa fe.  they've 2 children - eyerus (who is adopted, 3 and ethiopian), and a-1, also known as aidan.  i think aidan is 5.  i've known lucy for 25 years this year.  we met one summer on the campus of princeton university.  we were taking part in a program called operation crossroads africa.  i was leading a medical team to liberia and she was going with another team to the neighboring country of sierra leone.  after 5 weeks in the bush, our teams met up in abidjan, cote d'ivoire.  our groups spent about a week in cheap hotels on the beach near grand bassam.  i had the best vietnamese food there.  i'll never forget it.

anyway, lucy is my best bud.  it's been like that since we first met.  she was the best woman at my wedding in 2003.  when i was hospitalized acutely in 2001, she left her dad's side in vermont where he'd just had a stroke to come be with me in tucson.  we're that tight.

my son, jamaal, and i spent christmas here with these guys.  i photographed jamaal  playing on their kids' trampoline.  lucy and john took a-1 and eyerus back to ethiopia shortly after christmas for a month so eyerus could spend time with her birth mom.  they're there now.  i'm in their house visiting a mutual friend.  they don't know i've visited and have no idea of what i've done to their wall.  i wish i could be where when they see it for the first time.


(the 1st photo of me entering the house after installing "jamaal flying" is by wendy johnson.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

who feels it, knows it

Back in the early 00s, I spent a lot of time reading about jazz.  My period of interest was from the introduction of Ornette Coleman's "Something Else" in 1958 to Coltrane's "Interstellar Space" in 1967.  (In truth, my period of exploration started with Miles Davis "Birth of the Cool" in 1949.)  

During this period of intensive study, I read an interview with Branford Marsalis on improvisation.  He referenced Bird and told the story of Bird playing in a night club in New York City in the 50s.  At one point in his solo Bird played a short phrase of "Anchor's Away."  Jazz critics and Bird heads to this day debate what influenced Bird to quote that phrase at that moment.  Branford learned from a reputable source that Bird was simply acknowledging 2 sailors who walked into the club as he was soloing.

I love that story because it emphasizes to me the immediacy of an artist's response to what was happening in his life.  What inspires people to do what they do?

This time last year I was trying to find places in warmer climates to install work as northern Arizona was buried under snow consistently from the second week of December to the middle of March.  In my 23 years here, I'd never seen that much snow for so long.  This winter is actually colder than last winter though we don't have quite as much snow.  Last winter I decided that for the sake of comfort, it had to be 50 degrees or higher before I'd paste.  But then I saw Olek knitting the charging bull on Wall Street at 2 a.m. in 20 degree weather.  That, combined with one of the most stressful times in my work life has inspired me to not only get work up, but to get work up that symbolizes rising above the bullshit.

So, that's been my mindset since pasting Stephanie last month.  It's a tough time economically.  People are hurting.  The state of Arizona has once again made headlines for being the bastion of bigotry and hate.  That's not who we are.

We can rise above this people.  Love.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

rex at cow springs

thelma + hosteen hank leaving cow springs

i put thelma up with her husband, hosteen hank nez, in june or july of 2009. it was one of my first pieces.
hank got scratched away because, little did i know he had 2 sets of kids by 2 different women. i asked a daughter of hank + thelma if i could use this imagery. she was cool with it. i later learned that a son from hank's other woman was upset that i presented hank with thelma (who wasn't his mom). so, he scratched his dad down.  

the fate of a playa...

the dude went to hugo hernandez's house banging on his door and talking smack.  hugo told the man to calm down and that he should be proud his parent's pictures were on the house (not understanding that this wasn't the guy's mom).  regardless, hugo refused to take the shit down.

hugo hernandez representin', yo!

mae jean's mom



jamaal flying

the bird in the upper right hand corner of the sky is from the last installation i did here. it was with joerael elliott. i think we hit it in july 2010.


rex + hank.  i installed this back in august 2010.  i wrote about lorenzo and his mom in an earlier posting (

this was only my second time passing by this piece since i put it up.  when i passed the first time, the piece that's missing now in the middle, was starting to come off.  i thought the entire piece would be down and was happy to see that it wasn't.

inside lorenzo's mom's stand

Sunday, January 2, 2011

eu amo o brasil!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

here's to hoping we all have a happy 2011!

thanks for the shout out matthew.  i've got nothing but love for art of the rural.

happy new year y'all!