Author Archives: Molly Keen

About Molly Keen

Molly Keen-Aigner is a Visual Artist, Muralist and Educator who rides their bicycle around the world creating.

Bicycles, Art, & Updates

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Can you believe that it is December 2017 already? There are lots coming up for mural making in 2018!

As I have been reminiscing about the last year or so I have felt thankful for all of the creative endeavors, cycling adventures and the healing of a year-long a knee injury (yeah it’s better). 2017 has been full of the community including the Biketopia Music Collective and the 7 people that I live in Oakland, CA. Life is good and I can definitely feel winter coming! That means it is time to apply to potential summer gigs for art and sculpture and plan for my upcoming mural tour!

Recap of Biking and Travel: I wanted to share a couple videos with you. Summer 2018 the Biketopia Music Collective, will be starting out on a 3-month tour around Europe. We started the collective about 2 years ago and since have made a journey with 20+ cyclists from Vancouver, Canada to Oakland, CA. The video below is a recap and although the tour was in 2016 it shines a light on all the fantastic happenings that happened and will happen for future tours. We are currently planning and seeking sponsorship and venues that we can play at with our pedal-powered stage.

In addition to the above video, collective member and good friend Robin Applewood made an incredible video with footage of the tour. We created on tour entitled ‘Head Up’. It has video footage from the tour from the Go-Pro that I was into carrying for parts of the tour. It is a must see!

Art Update: I have been super busy creating digital art! Can you believe it? Why? Glad you asked! Painting murals recently have required that I sketch and design the mural before starting to paint. This has become one of the newer processes for me, as clients like to see designs beforehand. What that means is that I am busy expanding my knowledge of photoshop and creating designs digitally. I genuinely enjoy the process and am familiar with it as I minored in Digitial Technology Culture (DTC) at Washington State University.

I am loving diverse ways to express my creativity. But, with that said, I am ready to start painting already!

In addition to my mural making, I have been interested in creating a sculpture based on my experience with pedal power. Sculpture pieces that incorporate bicycle and tricycles with pedal-powered mobile bicycle parts. I am also interested in large structures that you can crawl into and explore with and around. In addition, my murals can be displayed on these pieces as they become more dynamic and interactive with the three-dimensional realm.

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Full Moon – Art Auction

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This fall at the Joshua Tree Music Festival I participated in the Art Auction that donates half of the proceeds to the Joshua Tree Living Arts Foundation which supports and encourages youth to make art. The 12′ x 12′ piece was inspired by the full moon that came up bright and orange during the 8.5-hour drive to the festival from Oakland to Joshua Tree. I made a timelapse of the experience, love to support the festival and participate in the auction.

The 2018 May Joshua Tree Music Festival will feature the bicycle touring band that I traveled the west coast from Vancouver B.C. to Oakland, Bicicletas Por La Paz, click this link for their music page. I recently participated in a music video with them you can check out here:

Sunset Art in Berkeley, Sprinter Van

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Giving thanks for the gift of creating! Check out the incredible and collaborative van art!

This past couple of months I have been working super hard on getting new mural gigs which require a lot of patience, writing, editing, designing, computer time, and stamina. Sometimes it seems like I am on the computer more than I am painting, and I am grateful for a project like V.N.V.S. to be able to exercise what I love the most, creating with community. I enjoy sharing and trusting a common vision while supporting one another.

I love when people stop to ask me questions while I paint, I make sure to give them a chance to create beside me. It is important that my art brings people together and respects the space for which it was created in. The beauty of art!

This brings me to this past weekend, where I was lucky enough to be the first featured guest for V.N.V.S. an incredible couple, Catie and Tom, who travel and live in a sprinter van. Originally from Indiana, the two are based in Oakland and plan to travel in the van, featuring local artists of the towns that they travel through.

You can also follow V.N.V.S. here on Facebook –I am excited to see what is in store for them in the future.I loved the project and we had some guest stars, neighbors, come through and create with us as well!

Summer and Art’s Community Mural

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This past month I helped to create a “Paint by Numbers” mural with over 40 children and adults! It was set on the stunning Eel River, which last year, I saw almost dried up. There has been so much rainfall this past winter and the parks and rivers are still seeing glacier run off from it! Incredible for Calfornia it needs it!

Mateel Summer and Art’s Festival took place in July for its 41st year! Incredible community located in Garberville at Benbow Recreation on the river. Camping and tons of music, this festival is open to all ages and especially can accommodate children! I worked with mostly young children to create this piece. Please, enjoy the time-lapse below!

 

Joshua Tree Mural May 2017

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Back at it again, at the Joshua Tree Music Festival in Joshua Tree outside of the Mojave desert in the incredible land of cactus, singing birds, hot heat, strong winds, dust storms, and glorious mountains. The difficulty with this particular project is that the heat is so strong and wind gusts can get up to 80 mph. The temperature ranged from 70-98 degrees Fahrenheit so mornings were essential in not getting burnt or dehydrated while painting!

This year is my third art piece that I have created and I wanted to incorporate an actual Joshua Tree. I received a vertical board this time, making it perfect for the shape of the tree. Of course, color had to be included.   

With whimsical tales from Doctor Seuss, this piece is important to me as the centerpiece shows the seed of fertility and the essence of femininity, the yoni. At this particular event, I was harassed by a young man while painting on the ladder. I had an idea of what I wanted the image in the center of the tree to be, until my interaction with the man. My hands were full and I kept asking him to stop touching my dress but he did not listen. I asked some friends to intervene and they were super helpful. So as I began to paint again, I realized that this soft and beautiful divine image of a vagina was important for me to put int the centerpiece. It was important for me as many people asked me about why it was there, and it generated many important conversations with all peoples about boundaries and the risk you take in being vulnerable at a festival. This was the “enough is enough” piece as it was the straw that broke my back. I am sick of going to concerts worried about being grabbed or groped, especially when I say stop. So to spin it back, positively, this piece is special to me. It is a pretty open one and something that was therapeutic for me.

In addition, some the photos that I posted here are from my friend, Alejandro Murrieta, who is the son of a man who picked me up in the Baja California during one of my bicycle tours. My friend was sick and he asked us if we needed a ride, and we ended up staying with him for a couple of days on the beach! What a small and beautiful world!

 

 

Rotten City Mural – Emeryville, CA

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My latest mural you can see at Rotten City Pizza in Emeryville, California. The wall is a stucco, concrete 45 foot by 4-16 feet in some places. The mural wraps around the building, taking over parts of two walls.

The entire process has taken me about 1 month and over 100 hours. An element I wanted to add to this piece was video. It was my first time using a GoPro to film my work with a time lapse. I wanted to engage viewers in a new way. I took a shot every three seconds and created a one minute video after a month of painting. The mural was a special one, as my first day of painting was on the 10 year anniversary of my mother, Cindy Keen’s passing. She was creative and energetic and has been my artistic inspiration for my murals. In honor of her, I sign my work M. Keen with her maiden name. So, enjoy the time-lapse.

The Mural:

I have been riding my bicycle by Rotten City for a couple years now and it was not until last year, that I realized it was a pizza place. I stumbled upon it and had an incredibly delicious slice of pizza. Every time since that experience I felt like the building needed more flare and movement to attract people without using a sign or with traditional ways. I have been looking and dreaming about this wall for about a year now. Jonas, the owner of the business and the building agreed to meet me after I sent him an inquiry. We met twice and I showed him different sketches and we spoke about the history of the business and what he wanted to convey to the neighborhood. I was excited to start painting and after three hours in the paint store, selecting colors and day dreaming about the process, I purchased a couple quarts of paint and was ready to start!

Above is the logo of Rotten City, and inspiration for the mural. Elements of the imagery are further discussed at the end of the post. Gambling chips, pizza, a monkey (yes, a monkey) riding a gray hound, palm trees, playing cards, wine barrels, wine bottles, beer and the cityscape behind.

Here is a look at the preliminary sketches.

The mural is 45 feet wide and like a pyramid, at some points reaches 16 feet and at the low points each about 4 feet. The mural is painted with high quality Sherwin-Williams paint, acrylic latex, exterior satin sheen. It is mold proof and water proof, it was super important that I invested in the paints to get the longevity for the mural.

The mural took a total of about 1 month and 70 hours to paint. I found the stucco a bit hard to paint on, and honestly I enjoyed painting and was not concerned about the hours, but more about the process and the quality. I love to paint, it makes me excited and is what I want to do with my life. So I was excited to spend as much time possible on the piece.

The contrast of painting in Latin America V. U.S.

This is my first outdoor mural in the United States and has been an incredible experience, as with the overwhelming amount of love from passerby and cars that want to scream how they feel about the mural with joy and good intention. I was surprised by this and thought about the contrast of painting in Latin America versus the United States. In Latin America, people would sit and watch me. They would bring me treats and things to drink, and not necessarily talk to me, but just enjoy the process and watching me.  Most of my murals reside in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.

Studio V. Street Art 

I have painted in quiet community studios and also painted in busy streets, jungles, beaches, and other outdoor locations. I absolutely love being outside and engaging with the community. I love to get to know people and have them ask me questions. Street art is definitely more my style and I love when people are interested in what I am doing, or I am the first live artist they have ever seen painting a mural.

Tons of people approached me and asked the same questions. Sometimes they would just blurt out whatever they were thinking. Here are the top 5 commentsL

1. How long will this take you?

2. Is it just you painting?

3. That is a lot of work.

4. Good job!

5. You get paid, right?

People have definitely expressed their feelings toward the mural more than I would have ever imagined.

History of Rotten City, and Emeryville, CA: 

History is important to me, especially when I am adding to the aesthetic of a neighborhood and spending a lot of time outside getting to know the people that walk by the mural every day. In this location, 66th and Hollis in Emeryville, there is a man who sells hot dogs and chips across the street. The main road, Hollis is full of busy fast cars, which make it difficult for pedestrians to cross. I have seen three accidents in the month it took me to paint the mural. I have had the pleasure of meeting other artists, families, and neighbors from homes and businesses around.

Emeryville was originally Ohlone land where the Natives would fish for clams, oysters and use the acorns of the oak tree for trade and to eat! After the Spanish colonized in 1776 they created factories and Emeryville became known for industrial wealth. Specifically meat packaging plants, and paint companies (Sherwin-Williams). Shell Oil Company started in Emeryville and moved to Houston, Texas in the 1970’s.

As the town of Emeryville grew, it became known as “Rotten City”, “E’Ville” as it became a sort of Wild West where you could find brothels, places to gamble and drink.  There were even greyhound races, hence the logo of the rotten city, the racing monkey upon a greyhound. It was its own city in the midst of San Francisco and Oakland. Hence the imagery of the Rotten City logo: gambling chips, alcohol and racing monkey on the back of a greyhound.

The city is small, about 2 square miles and most of that is bordering the Bay of San Francisco. There is an incredible marina, and public parks to enjoy. The views of San Francisco are stunning from Emeryville. The city has just started a Mural Arts Committee that is seeking out more muralists to paint walls in the city.

I feel so lucky to have bene apart of this project! The staff at Rotten City were incredible and super accommodating. The owner Jonas I want to thank for his trust in me and because of that, my creative and artistic flow was able to come through. Thank you!

 

Earth Day Mural 2017

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This Earth Day I rode my bicycle with the Biketopia Music Collective  from Oakland to Bayview to help pedal the stage at the Bayview Opera House earth day celebration in San Francisco, CA. We pedaled the stage for musical acts with using just four bicycles and friends to pedal them. What a beautiful day!

The aim of this day-long mural was to involve as many elementary students in the creation of the piece. Allowing for freedom, exploration, and creativity to be free.

I was so lucky to paint a community mural with some of the schools of Bayview. It was incredible to paint on stage with the youth and create the piece with them. The music is by Heather Normandale and the band that I live painted with was Audio Pharmacy. It was a successful day and I am so thankful to of been apart of it! Check out the video now!