Monday, August 29, 2011

go figure

while pasting in cameron recently, i met chris.  i also met ty begaii who is a young graffiti artist in the cameron community.  he and i connected through 2 women from the cameron community who stopped by cow springs when i was pasting over there recently.  anyway, turns out i know ty's dad pretty well from the inscription house community.  ty hung out with chris and me as i was doing the installation above before heading off to work at a bead stand just outside the grand canyon national park, south rim.

anyone who has driven through cameron regularly over the past 2 years has witnessed the cat and mouse game between the graffiti writers and the buff monster who paints over graffiti within days of it going up.  there was an article in the navajo times within the past year about an anglo guy, a lawyer i think, from flagstaff who comes out regularly and buffs graffiti.  i've been happy he's never touched any of my photos.  as i was driving to gray mountain sunday to prepare the tanks for my next piece, i got an email from ty that read:

"...hey!  i see the drunk guy.  ha!  he's painting over the graffiti.   hopefully he doesn't remember my ride."  

who knew?

her man is out of jail in flagstaff and they're happily expecting.

and that's the way we roll...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

bsa shout out!

two by ten

one of the things I love about this project is the absolute unpredictable nature of the situations it facilitates.  when I left my house at 8 this morning and drove an hour + 10 minutes to cameron, i thought i'd be pasting by myself while listening to whatever i desired on my ipod.  because i didn't get much sleep last night, my energy was low.  upon arriving on site, i slowly went about the process of getting everything set up.  the right music this morning felt like terence blanchard "choices."

before i even started pasting this navajo guy got out of a pick up truck with an 18 pack of budweiser and approached me saying " can't stay here.  you've got to leave," before bursting out into laughter saying "...naw - i'm just fucking with you."   little did i know that i'd chosen his drinking spot to do an installation.

he said his name is chris.  because he felt i looked like a reggie, that was what he called me for the next 2.5 hours.  chris said he wondered who did this "art shit" so he was happy to find out it was reggie.  he and his wife had been up all night gambling at a casino some 2 hours away.  apparently she'd gotten paid yesterday and off they went.  though trained as an engineer, chris can't find work around cameron so he spends his time at home while his wife works as a dental assistant in tuba city.  his not working and drinking is a source stress with his wife and in-laws.  

things didn't go as they'd hoped at cliff castle casino.  since it was his wife's money, chris used what little he had at the bar trying to seduce the young, pretty apache bartender while his wife was seduced by lady luck.  it didn't go well for his wife.  she lost over $400.00 and bitched at chris on the all too long drive home for letting her lose her paycheck gambling.  attempting to escape her vitriol, he retreated to his favorite drinking spot at 9 in the morning with an 18 pack of bud only to find reggie.

for the next several hours i heard about him appearing as an extra in "midnight run" with robert deniro (whom he identified as an intellectual lightweight - "there's a reason people go into acting," he said), italian tourists who camped close to his home who said he was too handsome to be navajo, problems with his wife and her family, and the plethora of women who want to sleep with him.  (somehow he didn't see a connection between the latter 2.)  it was one of the most entertaining installations i've ever done.  he believes the moon landing was a fake because if they did it once, why didn't they keep going back?  "why go to the moon only once?"  chris dislikes republicans and sees them as greedy obstructionists who care only for themselves.  "the thought of actually having a black president is driving them nuts." he wanted to hear black sabbath rather than the hip hop mix i played, though that didn't stop him from dancing.

"if anybody ever gives you any shit, send them to me.  i've got your back," he said.  and happy as a fly in fresh wheat paste (having had 2 buds by 10 a.m.), i told him that reggie had his back as well.  we toasted, drank to our chance meeting and acknowledged that we made one another's morning.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

grandma's outhouse (for diego)

i still get an erection (piloerection that is - goose bumps or chicken flesh), whenever i go out to do an unsanctioned (illegal), installation.  i never know whether i'll get the full on hater vibe or acceptance of the piece.  on the rez, it's generally the latter.  

i'd spotted this outhouse along 89 north on the road to the north rim of the grand canyon about a year ago.  today was the day i went for it.  there are no houses around and the roadside stand nearby hadn't been used for a couple years.  i figured - do it and ask forgiveness later.  i had an opportunity to do just that.

the day was overcast and the wind was stronger than i realized.  it came in gusts.  getting the first strip of paper up was a bitch.  it got blown off the wall 2 times.  by this point the paper had absorbed enough paste and was so wet that i feared it'd tear as i was trying to get it up a 3rd time.  however, success; i got it up.  while working on the second strip i realized that i'd been so engaged in what i was doing that i didn't see or hear a pickup truck pull up.  the driver asked " what's it gonna be?"  (what a great opening line.)

"grandma mary reese," i replied.  i launched into my spiel about living on the rez 24 years, being a doctor at inscription house health center, what the project is about and emphasizing that the pieces are temporary.  then i asked him if he owns the outhouse.  he said he does.  nervously, i apologized for not asking first saying i wasn't sure who to ask since there are no houses nearby.  

he said his name was bruce nez and acknowledged that he'd not used his roadside stand for a couple years.  but since i was putting art up on his outhouse, he was going to start using the nearby stand again and asked if i'd hook him up with some sheep on that.  i told him i would.  bruce said he'd seen other examples of my work around and thought it was something sponsored by the tribe.  i asked what he thought about an old, black man putting the art up.  "not who you expected, was it?'  he thought it was cool.  

the thing i love about the outhouse installation is making 3 dimensions look like one and that the outhouse is still fully ventilated.  this is an important feature for an outhouse.

so yeah, the mary reese on the outhouse piece is dedicated to diego rivera.  he's been an inspiration for some time - since i was doing the urban guerrilla art assault project in flagstaff in the 90s.  the cool thing about this piece is that like diego's work it celebrates the every person (living on the rez), but it goes a step further and carries a seed for promoting economic growth and viability for bruce should he start using his stand again.

roadside vendor's stand at cedar ridge. while installing here a woman named annie stopped by.  her stall is a couple stalls down from this one.  she wants sheep as well.  sheep is life.

mary reese on 89 north

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

sell out...

mary reese at night (fully schlacked)

hmmm.  i've been having a bit of a philosophical dilemma of late.  the pieces that i put up using just wheat paste have been coming down pretty quickly.  that's not true of all the pieces but, by and large, the bigger the piece put up with just wheat paste, the faster it comes down.  

on the one hand, i'm not getting funded to do the project and fedex/kinko's hasn't been running specials like they did when i first started doing this where oversized black and white prints were 1/2 off.  on the other hand, the conceptual nature of the project explores the ephemeral nature of life and letting go.  i've been experimenting with using polyurethane over the past several weeks and i have to say, the pieces are staying up nicely even during the monsoon season here in northern arizona.  so, the pieces are still ephemeral, just less so.  

so, that's where things are now.  my son will already have to attend a public college when he becomes of age since i've spent his college tuition money on this project.  at least now i won't be spending as much of it...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


thanks to katie, eric, chester + juanita who stopped by and who gave kate mytty + moi love today!