Oakland Mural – “Airmid” the Goddess of healing through Herbalism

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May I introduce “Airmid,“ the violet Serpent standing at 100’ x 18’ – Spray Paint – Oakland, California. Here Airmid, the Celtic Goddess of healing through herbs and transformation, is depicted as a snake. The consciously chosen violet with powers to heal and transmute.

Being an Artist is hard work and hustle, it’s not always pretty and its never just about painting. Nevermore did I need the snake medicine midst painting outside of the 18-year-old Co-Op run “A taste of Denmark Bakery” on the corner of 34th and Telegraph. It was challenging because of confrontation, vandalism, and coming up with a plan as a neighborhood on how to restore the mural. Upon completion, I felt like a whole new Artist.

This was the largest piece that I have ever created, and the second time that I used spray paint. I traveled daily with my bicycle of course and could not have done it without the Xtracycle! That bicycle is the reason why I have not had a car in over 8 years! I loaded up spray paint from the lovely 14th Street Supply Company in Oakland, which by the way, was the best experience I ever had purchasing paint! Quality and affordable cans.

The color scheme I chose is my ideal color palette. I recently started creating my pieces digitally before painting. That way, I can play around with color and start to see different ways that I could expand concepts. For Airmid, she was really about trying a new medium, style, and balancing that with a design that I have always dreamt of creating. I wanted to make the piece simple but also with movement and activation. The snakeskin was enough detail for just getting into spray paint and the slight difference in colors creates an incredible aesthetic that you can get with layer similar colors on top of one another. I learned that technique from a sweet friend in Berlin while creating “Arriving”.

    

Thank you to Edward for your support and encouragement with this piece. For the opportunity and freedom to create what I artistically wanted. Thank you for the introduction to your world and family. Thank you to the neighborhood of 34th street, the multigenerational family members across the street that watched the entire process. They brought me coffee, pastries, and conversation.

Thank you, Hunter Franks, for your grace and confrontation skills that I only dream of creating. You stepped up and supported me in a way that I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you to Sari Blum for capturing the final day, your photos are so meaningful to me. Check out her work Y’all Sari is a badass photographer that can shoot just about anything!

Lastly, thank you Nate Bauld for being there the morning I covered up the mural from graffiti. I did not want to do it alone.

Thank you, Maisha, Benji, Lauren, Carolyn, Heather, Ruca, Fenner, Jenna, Ben and all the others who stopped by to support me and say hello. The support means the world to me.

Till the next project. I love you all, thanks for being there for me.

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Bicycle Touring Murals

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This past summer I set off for the second time for the Pacific Northwest on a bicycle tour with the incredible, Biketopia Music Collective. We rode our bicycles from Olympia, Washington back to our home in Oakland, CA over the span of 2.5 months.

Our goal? Use our bodies upon our large bicycles to pedal ourselves in an intentional community through cities where we would perform music with pedal-powered music! Pedal power? The same bicycles we use to tour on, we used for the community to pedal our shows! 3-4 hours long, we had different acts and musicians contribute; including murals!

In Seaside, Oregon I created a 1-day mural with participants from the local community center to create a gorgeous mural that was inspired by the garden and all of the love that went into the creation of it.

In Portland, Oregon, I created an incredible large mural that was abstract in style, and colorful in content. This piece was in the Hollywood district just right across the bicycle shop Velo Cult, which is where the bicycle touring group performed. This mural was the first where I had a reveal party with music and friends. I loved to include the community in the reveal as this is an important aspect to the mural and the future life that it will lead.

You can find the 20′ x 15′ foot mural entitled “Sacred Waters” at 42nd and Tillamook in the Hollywood District on the side of Popina Swimwear.

Berlin Mural – “Arriving”

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About The Mural:

Title: “Arriving”

Where: Comepackbackers, Berlin, Germany

Dimensions: 9′ x 20′ x 0′

Medium: Acrylic Paint, Indoor, Private Mural

Length of time: 1 week, painting 6-8 hours a day.

Artist: Individual, Molly Keen

 

Background: I was working in Mostar, Bosnia with black and white and with a focus on design and movement. It was heavily based on drawings and I wanted to bring in bright colors and focus on creating life throughout the hallway that many people walk up and down the halls hundreds of times a day. I created the mural beforehand with the owner, and came to an agreement and there I was, off to different paint stores in Berlin deciding what type of paint to purchase for the project. 5 paint stores, and some hardware stores later I found the perfect store, and to one of my favorite parts of traveling and painting murals: buying paint from foreign art stores. The paint is the same, most of the time, and the interactions and different ways to mix paints always intrigue me.

I made a time-lapse of the experience as I believe it’s important to showcase the entire process and one can see how it’s not perfect, and always changing.

I loved my time in Berlin, I ended up staying 2 weeks and made some really beautiful friends. Berlin is definitely one of those places where I would love to get my masters or study further. The art scene is incredible and the people are from all over the world and creative!

My Germany Experience:

I traveled to other places throughout Germany besides Berlin. My Grandparents on both of my father’s side have parents from Germany. My entire life I knew that I would make it there, and towards the end of my travels, I found myself in Stuttgart, Germany on an apple farm.

For 5 years its been a dream of mine to visit the farm, with my old friend Lukas. I met Lukas in South America in Peru after a Vipassana (link) meditation retreat. He was my introduction to bicycle touring as it was to my surprise that he had a bicycle loaded up with back and front panniers and he had ridden from North America en route to Patagonia. I remember thinking about how incredible it would be to travel by bicycle and to create that kind of experience. It foreshadowed a lot of what I would create for myself in the future as far as living and ride on a bicycle. I knew he had an apple farm there and it seemed almost necessary to pay him a visit and meet his family.

After Stuttgart, I took a 6-hour bus to Munich, where, my father’s last name, Aigner comes from! I actually met some people with the last name and it’s more common there of course. Munich I met with some friends from Oakland that currently live there. I spent a couple of days with them and eventually made my way to Berlin and stayed with some friends before confirming the 5th mural of the tour at Comebackpackers Hostel. The hostel was a retro, centrally located a hip spot, sold out every night I was there, with lots of backpackers. I met tons of people and really felt at home. Germany was all I ever dreamed of and more. I felt so inspired, and could definitely see myself living in a city like Berlin to get my Masters in Fine Arts. 

 

 

A Keen Mural in Ericeira, Portugal

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The third mural stop on my 3.5-month journey of creating murals throughout Europe landed me in Ericeira, Portugal: a special village beach town located just 45 minutes outside of Lisbon.

Here, I spent a couple of days walking through cobblestone alleyways with old white buildings with blue and yellow painted accents. I found myself walking every morning along the ocean with so many different beaches to explore in what seemed like every direction. 

 

   

The Mural

I was fortunate to get to work with a local woman, Ana where I stayed in her 3 story family home that she has converted into a hostel. The hostel was not open at that point, so I had the whole place to myself, located just one block from the sea cliffs that poured into the Atlantic. Here, I could see the ocean from my room and hear the sounds of the waves.

Title: Bright Zebra

Dimensions: 40 x 18 x 0, Stairwell

Where: Ericeira, Portugal – Fisherman’s House

Medium: Spray Paint, Montana Colors

Length: February 20-27, 7 days 4-5 hours a day.

Accommodation: A 3-story hostel all to myself!

 

    

I traveled to the Ericeira during the winter time and “off-season”, there was rain, but we also had some beautiful days of sunshine as well. This meant that I had the whole place to myself! 

Here is the kitchen space of the accommodation I had, where Ana would cook me meals every day and come by for a coffee. These walls were often filled with my loud music as I love to paint to music. It is necessary.

I loved using spray paint, I didn’t love the mask but I made it work. I think I went up and down the stairwell a couple hundred times. I have used them before and like how smooth and quick the colors can layer and spread out. The color choices are quite bold and you must be confident with your hands. No holding back.

 

 

Below are images from one of the beaches 45 minutes away from where many surfers will go. There is even a surfing statue over the sea cliff to represent the surfers who always look to the different beaches every morning to see which beach has the best waves.

   

  

  

Featured above is Cabo de Rock, which is the westernmost point of the European part of Portugal. Welcomed with a lighthouse and a tiny trail to explore the cliffside, I felt as if I was in some parts of Big Sur in California. This part of the Portugal Coast reminded me so much of places in California the similarities were striking.

 

Also, 45 minutes outside of Ericeira was the residence of the old royal Portuguese family that lived in a huge castle 450 meters above the town of Sintra. I loved the colors and the surrounding gardens and was so impressed with the views and architecture.

Well, that’s all from me for now! Thanks again Ana for your generosity and always making me delicious vegetarian food! The beaches and the location of Ericeira are unforgettable. If you are ever near Lisbon or Porto, Ericeira is a must see!

“Into the Ocean” Portugal Mural

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10 days of painting, bicycle rides, rainy afternoons, noisy construction days, sunset visits to the ocean and views across the canal of the iconic city of Porto, Portugal.

The Mural

Title: “Into the Ocean”

Dimensions: 40′ x 10′ x 0′

Medium: Acrylic Paint

Location: Oporto Hostel, Porto, Portugal. 

Length: 7 days, 4-6 hours a day.

The mural was in the common space, in the same room as the kitchen and had a lot of natural lighting and was inside. The wall totaled 40 feet by 10 feet tall. I was able to use a bench to get to the top of the ceiling, no crazy ladders or tight spaces.

  

I had an incredible private room with my own bathroom and nice light. When you travel for more than a couple months, it’s important to have alone time and not always share a room with other people.

   

We purchased acrylic latex paint from the local hardware store, where they mixed paints in the same way I have seen all over the states. The man entered a number that went in accordance with a color, and the machine mixes the colors. I always enjoy this part of the process, as it is a behind the scene look into a new country.

History 

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal with 2.4 million people in the city and surrounding close area. Lisbon is the largest with 2.7 million people. The first known people that built the city were Celtic, around 300 BC. During the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, the city developed as an important commercial port with trade between modern Lisbon and modern Braga. 

Known for Port wine, art history and waterfront canal and Atlantic ocean views, the town of Porto is full of hills and cobblestone paths. With many gardens and public parks to explore, I took advantage of the city by exploring by bicycle.

     

One of my most favorite parts of Porto were my new friends, including Rodrigo, a beautiful Brazilian friend who was studying at the University in Porto. Even though I travel alone, I never feel alone because of people like Rodrigo! We even dyed our hair purple together.

    

 

10 days of painting with acrylic paint, bicycle rides, rainy afternoons, noisy construction days, with sunset visits to the ocean and canal of the iconic city of Porto, Portugal.

  

I was so lucky to get to see one of my most favorite muralists, Bordalo II, Lisbon Visual Artist that specializes in the creation of  3D mural sculptures made from recycled material. Car bumpers, metal parts of cars, plastic buckets and other parts found from trash. Ironically he had a huge show and series of new murals in San Francisco while I was in his hometown! I will definitely have to check those out when I get back home!

 

Barcelona Mural

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Check out the mural that I completed in January in Barcelona in 2018 at Hostel Primavera. What a wonderful experience as I met the most beautiful people and was able to spend a lot of time with my friends who live in the city. 

Where: Barcelona, Spain

What: The hostel is called Primavera Hostel, which in Spanish, means Spring! The mural felt appropriate to have flowers, blossoms, and colors the represent spring.

What I learned: This was the first time that I painted a ceiling and it came with a lot of problems. When you put a lot of paint on the brush or even the smallest amount of water, the drops will most definitely end up on your face or in your mouth! That is probably why I have paint on my face for most of the shots!

I love painting in different countries to experience the process of buying paint. Every country is pretty different. In Barcelona, I selected colors from a color wheel and drank an afternoon beer while waiting. The colors were mixed with a machine and the price for a quart of acrylic paint was only 4 euro which is almost 1/3 of the price in the states.

In Barcelona, the streets are designed all very similar and the mural that painted was located on the inside of one of these tall buildings. One of the neighbors watched my process of painting. I am so impressed with the city and the way that people live. Such a high quality of life.


I always sign my work M. Keen in honor of my mother. From now on I am thinking about just Molly Keen. What do you think? Thanks for reading, and looking forward to the next mural that I have already started in Portugal!

Thank you again to Guy, Pam and the rest of the family at Primavera Hostel. They were a wonderful place to stay and will soon have a newly remodeled second part of the hostel. Maybe I should go back and paint some more?

Bye California, Hello Barcelona!

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Barcelona was an incredible city and I was lucky enough to spend a little over two weeks in the city! My time was filled with small streets, friends greeting, painting, stunning street art, exciting night life, and the casual beer day drinking. It was truly an unforgettable experaince, and the best part? I got to catch up with my best friend, and old friends from past travels. 2 weeks well spent!

 

I left California on the 17th of January and we a short-term new roommate! Cleopatra! A beauty of a snake huh? Leaving was difficult but who said traveling was easy? I have two backpacks, my computer, electronics, paint pens, stickers, JBL speaker, a large candle and all my brushes! Ready for the muraling world!  

 

The flight from Oakland, CA to Barcelona was 11 hours and easy breezy, way more than I could have ever imagined. The plane, Iberia Airlines or “Level” was a $160 flight one way. The plane was super comfortable with free movies and room to sleep. I even ran into my San Francisco friends Dom and Pinto! They were on the same flight, imagine that?

I was anxious about being on a plane that long but realized quickly how relaxing it was. I slept for a large portion and did not have anyone sitting next to me.

Upon arriving, as my friend Steven (featured above) recommended: at the airport, I took an Aerobus for just 5.99 € and a breezy 20-minute ride into Placa Catalunya where my best friend Steven met me! He had a little sign and everything. We walked 30 minutes to his apartment, set my bags down and were able to catch up for a couple of hours. He surprised me and I was quite the surprised lady! What a great start and introduction to Europe!

   

There is a 9 hour time change, which is quite significant, and I have not felt tired. I feel quite the opposite, settled with the time change actually. Barcelona is about 9 hours ahead so it’s quite a difference. I am pretty adaptable to my environment and a great sleeper so I have been doing great!

We explored the city, as Steven has lived in Barcelona about a year and a half, and we met up with many of his friends. Much of the city reminds me of large cities in South America like Santiago, Chile and Quito, Ecuador for its Latin flair and Spanish influence of course.

   

We visited some parks, churches and walked the city the whole day! Each day my friend Steven and I would explore a new neighborhood and walk around. People here love to take breaks from 2-4 and I love that because it lets you slow down, reflect on the day, catch up with friends, and enjoy life! I think its an amazing part of the culture. In addition, the nightlife is quite incredible I have found myself staying up late every night even though I would not consider myself a late night person.

   

 

My first mural I completed in Barcelona at the Primavera Hostel and I am excited to share more as I complete the images and put them together.

So far all I can tell you is that it is a different style I have never tapped into and it involves flowers, colors, and an outside patio!

I saw many of my friends I met while traveling in Colombia! Beautiful friends that live in the city Rosie and Charo and of course, Fernando! Oh, I also got my nose pierced! Ouch! But glad to have friends that supported me through the piercing. It was a difficult one.

  

Steven and I were able to watch fireworks/sparkler show on a Friday which was incredible! It was loud and a bit scary I have never seen anything quite like it. Large puppets and people dressed up to celebrate. Almost every night I would head to Stevens house and eat some small dinner, olives, wine, and cheese. We would go out late and order my most favorite, Bravas (crispy small potatoes with a spicy aioli sauce). I love bravas! In addition, if you know me, you know that I have a crazy love for salt and vinegar chips. Well, at one bar, they gave us regular salty thick chips and covered it in malt vinegar and rock salt flakes! It blew my mind!

 

My friend Fernando and I went to a Flamenco show which I had never seen before. He also gave me my first motorcycle ride in Barcelona and was the highlight of my trip! In addition, I was able to rent a bicycle and explore the streets that way. This is my preferred way to travel. 

 

  

 

I decided to go to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, the most famous and longest construction of any building ever! It is a cathedral that showcases Gaudi, the famous Catalonian architect who was 70 when he died in a train accident. His work is gothic and thick but also natural and flowing without any 90-degree angles and using different colors and textures to accentuate lines. He was known for his sculptures and models of works that he wanted to create instead of drawings. An incredible and complicated man, I really enjoyed searching all over Barcelona for his work.

   

Lastly, this is a park that Gaudi designed called Güell Park. It has used the natural materials from the ground to make the buildings and sculpture. He loved mosaics and lived in the park during the years of its construction.