This last Saturday I was surprised and overwhelmed that the story wrote about The Three Birds in Flight was printed on the front page of The Arizona Republic.
Here is a link to the long form version of the story:
Often when you do interviews you do not know where they will go. Perhaps a digital story, maybe published in the paper or a magazine. But when they are published on the front page, it is a special honor. So thank you, and thank you for taking a risk telling a story that is complexed and nuanced. When Dianna was interviewing me, I found myself telling the real story. About love, death, forgiveness, spirit and resurrection. My spirituality is a little off color for much of our culture, because it is hand made and through experiential learning. I am not religious, although I value ritual and the sacredness it holds for many people. The collective energy. I have had so many teachers, from my mentor Jeniffer, to the gurus in kundilini yoga, authors and writers who speak to me, my dreams, visions, the children and teenagers I have had the opportunity to teach, to the homeless man on the street. Perhaps we are all teachers, teaching each other.
March 20th 2015 10:10 AM
Remember when our songs were just like prayers
Like gospel hymns that you called in the air
Come down come down sweet reverence...
Now I’ve been crazy couldn’t you tell
I threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell...
I spent this morning filming this with the demolition crew at 222 E. Roosevelt, the developers were very gracious to let me have access so that I could have this memory. I'm so glad I was there. When the first bird went down I cried, and then I smiled. Letting go is like that. Demolition is spectacular and wild, loud and colossal.
Until next time birds 💗💗💗
March 30th 12:09 AM
I got to meet the excavator operator, a older guy named John, smoking a cigarette and drinking a Coke, he was the exact undertaker for the job. I was relieved when I met him, grateful that he wasn't a wet behind the ears newcomer, but instead a seasoned destroyer. I've always thought "every great creator knows the beauty in destruction", this Arizona morning was like that.
When I was driving up to the site which was blocked off by fences and privacy tarps I could see the excavator looming large over all of that. It deftly reached down and picked up a whole tree, uprooting it and moving it quickly to the side. I felt like I was in the presence of a dinosaur, I immediately felt vulnerable and awed by its power. I parked and entered the site, similar to how I felt last year walking into the hospital with a terminal friend. I knew exactly what I was there for.
I got to speak with John before the building went down, he knew that I was the artist that had painted the mural outside. I told him "John, you're like a surgeon with that thing", pointing to the massive excavator. He replied "So are you, with a brush", pointing to my mural. He apologized for his role in the demolition of my art and I told him, you know there is beauty in the breakdown.
I filmed as the building was demolished and I felt so very grateful to be there. Had I just drove upon it I think it would have been very difficult for me, it was necessary that it happened this way.
This last Friday my name was published in the New York Times in connection with this whole thing, and with my painting the Three Birds in Flight, once the new five story building is built. I never thought I would see my actual name in the New York Times, it was a huge milestone for me as an artist. And I hope that my working with the developers is an example of how we as artists can shape our futures and our neighborhoods. We are not victims but creators, and I make decisions as they become available to me. There is a zen quote "Don't push the river"... I do not believe in a world of mistakes and regrets. But one of destinies, next right moves and choice.
The Three Birds mural gave me more than I ever could have asked for, both in its creation and in its destruction. God is efficient, that is all that keeps coming to mind.
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.