Last night my latest show titled "Oil and Ink" opened last night at greenHAUS Gallery and Boutique, 222 E. Roosevelt. Here is what is crazy about greenHAUS, me and destiny. So for several years the number 222 has been my "God Number". Basically I see it everywhere. I had even gotten into the habit of taking pictures every time I saw this number, on billboards, at the gas pump, in change...I just saw it everywhere. So I started to believe that the Universe was trying to communicate with me through this number. Eventually I started to take it as a sign that everything was well, when I saw it I would feel as though the Universe was with me, nudging me on. So, when I moved to Roosevelt Row (Phoenix's art district) as a sort of pilgrimage in 2011, I would always look at the building on 222 Roosevelt. At the time it was vacant, and so I took down the renters number, not sure how this building would play into my life, but somehow instinctively knowing it would. Several murals were put up on the building, advertisements ect, much to the dismay of the neighborhood.
Then. There came a day where the last mural that was up there was covered, and the whole building was painted this really awesome green shade. There was a collective sign of relief, and I was slightly sad because I knew "my" building was now occupied. Shortly after this, I came home from work teaching art and I had two voicemails and three facebook notifications that this building and its owners were having a design/mural contest. They were accepting applications and budgets for a building size mural and four of my friends had let me know about this. When I saw that it was 222 Roosevelt, I had to take pause. I couldn't put all of my spiritual faith in this one act, but silently I knew, if I won this- that was lifetime proof that there is a God. So I got to designing, I knew they were going to need something modern and fine art. Something uplifting and hopeful, something that would watch over the street. Something spiritual. Birds.
Birds through almost every culture represent spiritual release and freedom. I added circles over their heads to denote their spiritual nature, similar to an aura or halo. I created my design, and my budget and sent off my proposal. Several weeks later I got the call, I had won the design contest, they wanted me to paint their mural. I was so elated!
I knew there was a creative, intelligent force that operates through signs and symbols.
I also knew I had never painted a mural before.
I got on the phone and started calling every muralist I had known, which was approximately one. Turns out you have to use acrylic paint (I am an oil painter) and ladders and lifts (I have a known fear of heights)...so I set to learning how to use acrylic paint, and I bought some extension ladders.
There were some delays in getting the painting up, which led to the first night painting being a First Friday. So with cameras clicking away and thousands of people walking by and observing, I got to painting my first mural. Talk about trial by fire.
I knew it would change my life.
And it has.
I am now a full time painter and muralist, but now I use electric lifts and not extension ladders, and acrylic paint has grown on my in its virtues and necessity...and its bright colors!
The Three Birds Mural has become an icon and its influence has surpassed me, nearly every time I am downtown I see girls in front of it taking pictures and I wonder how many pictures have been taken in front of it. There is so much responsibility in creating public art, I really am honored and continue to be honored by my small contribution to our visual world and experience.
I have had a show at greenHAUS for every year since the mural, so last night opened my third show with greenHAUS and sadly my last. They (the owners) will be packing up and moving shop to Portland, Oregon come February, and fate of the Three Birds Mural is no longer secured. But, it has had a good run, oftentimes murals are temporary as our public space is always shifting. Either way, it will always be my most special mural.