Category Archives: California

Public Art in Dublin, CA

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I smelled like cedar for the first couple of hours I started working on this project. Added a couple layers of gesso and then started with color.

My first commission of the year and an exciting project with the City of Dublin, California. I painted two large Adirondack chairs, which will be installed in the Spring and available for auction in the fall. I am really excited to be working with the City. This particular experience was seamless and enjoyable.

The Dublin Heritage Park and Museum are prety spectacular they have a ten-acre park with historic buildings, lawns, a historic cemetery, and picnic areas.

Featured are two museums on site: the 1856 Murray Schoolhouse, which houses a permanent exhibit on Dublin’s history; and the Kolb House, a historic house museum.  Also on site are the 1859 St. Raymond Church, and the Dublin Pioneer Cemetery.

I applied for the project in late 2019 and they will be temporary art displays which are a great way to bring people together and activate spaces around Dublin. Similar to utility boxes, they also add an element of interaction that I really enjoy. Watching someone sit on a piece of artwork you created feels pretty amazing. There are a total of 18 different artists and the theme of the project is  “New American Backyard”

The completed chairs will make their first appearance at the City of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival, March 14-15, 2020.  The Adirondack chairs will then be on display at select businesses, parks, and events throughout Dublin, March through September 2020.  Come out and see them all.  Make sure to take note of the chair or chairs that you like best, as all of the chairs will be sold at an auction during a City fall event.  Proceeds will benefit the City’s Public Art Program.

 

I am looking forward to following up with these chairs and seeing where they are placed in Dublin as well as where they end up after the auction.

“Dogs of Danville” Public Art Installation

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What an incredible experience it was working with the City of Danville, California for the “Dogs of Danville” sculpture installation.

My piece “How we grow” is an acrylic based colorful and whimsical piece that brings the viewer around the dog for a full 360-degree experience with every angle offering a different perspective. I wanted the dog to have movement complete with brightness and a sense of playfulness. One of the most time-intensive parts of the process (besides applying) is how the dog required multiple layers of paint. One can see by viewing the time-lapse that 3-4 coats of paint were needed to make a stable and bright hue that I desired as an outcome. This also was true with the black and white lines across the dog as well. The entire dog took me about 3 days of painting at a good 3-4 hour sessions. My roommates were cheering me on as I was painting in the backyard, complete with guitar playing and sunbathing.

The City put out a call months before asking for requests for applications to paint or add mixed media to the already casted plexiglass dog sculptures. Half of the dogs were standing, and the other half was standing.

The art opening took place on May 9th, 2019 at the Village Theatre and Art Gallery in Danville, CA, where all 15 artists celebrated their works. The installation of the dogs happened after the celebration where they found semi-permanent locations throughout Danville. My piece was the unique and lucky one to stay at the Village Theatre, welcoming guests and patrons of the theatre at the front entrance.

I am so thankful to be included in this show and grateful for the Danville Arts Commission for including me in the show.

Please watch my timelapse and be sure to check out “How We Grow” until September 2019 where they will be auctioned off.

MLK Day Community Mural

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January 13th, 2018 I spent MLK day with 15 incredible 5th-grade artists with organization Upward Roots, from Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy, in Oakland, CA. I ride my bicycle to every mural that I create. Here is a picture of me on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) with all of my paints and brushes! It is super easy to bike to events and more importantly, fun!

The mural took 2 days to complete. One day consisted of just me painting the outline, which happened to be a Friday during school hours. I had countless youth come up to me and ask me questions, so curious and intrigued with what I was doing. They were no strangers to murals, the school features many artists murals outside and inside the school. I was quite impressed. Some of my favorite comments for the students were, “I want to be an Artist too”, or “can we skip math class and paint with you?”.

I love working with youth and appreciated all of my interactions.

The second day was the very next day, and a Saturday so it was a little less crowded and chaotic. I cannot imagine what the reaction the rest of the school had when they came back to school to see the mural completed with color. They all were so excited!

This approach to the mural is called, “Paint by Numbers” and is an easy way for many to get involved all at once to fill in the piece, similar to that of a coloring book.  The technique is great for 1-3 days with minimal preparation time with the participants who will eventually paint the piece. I put a number or a dot of color in the center of the designs I want to be colored in, and students fill them in.

My favorite part of the collaboration was the conversations the artists had with one another during the creation. Laughing, talking, and finding a groove that was both social and relaxing. What a wonderful experience it was!

Did you know that you can also see this mural from BART between the Coliseum BART stop and San Leandro! Pretty amazing!

THANK YOU: 

Upward Roots Elizabeth Knight for coordinating and connecting me to the mural. Their wedding day was the day after this event and I cannot believe how well she had it together.

To Kindergarten and 5th-grade teacher, painter and facilitator Maria Pirner for helping me paint and getting me settled and comfortable at the school. You have such an incredible way of connecting with students and I admire your patience and ability to talk to the students.

Lastly, thank you to Shannon Burns, this project would have not happened without you. Shannon is a friend from my first year in the bay area, 7 years ago and gave me a heads up about the opportunity.

 

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.

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!

 

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!

 

 

Painting in Joshua Tree

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Twice a year, the Joshua Tree Music Festival happens in the desert of Southern California making up the Mojave and Colorado desert. Its stunning, the size of Rhode Island and one of my places to gather to meet other artists, listen to international music and get to know more about Joshua Tree.

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This is my third festival with them. This year I decided to be apart of the Art Auction where 21 artists get together to do live painting throughout the festival. At the end, the pieces are put on display for a silent art auction where half the proceeds go to the music education fund in Joshua Tree. Its an amazing way to engage artists and the community. I love that the festival puts such value on the visual arts.

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This year I decided to listen to some music and enjoy the festival before I immediately started painting. Last festival I had to paint an 8 foot by 6 foot piece so I was a bit more stressed out. This year it was 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet and I could carry it with me wherever I wanted. There was shade, thank goodness and I could actually listen to all the live music and I met a lot of people because they would enjoy the progress of my piece throughout the festival.

   

Here are some process shots of how I painted the murals. Of course the background first, then slowly deciding where I wanted to put people and the parts of the festival. I walked around with my board for this part and just sketching in front of what I was painting. This was one of my favorite parts because people were super intrigued with this process. This also came with sticky notes so I could play with the composition and make sure I had room for the entire festival and all the things that made it so special.

I spent most of my time shaded in the “Bowl” that included 3 musical stages and performances from 10am-11:30 pm with artists rotating almost every 1.5 hours. I listened to almost every set of music that was played. Quality music and painting combined made for a dreamy weekend. Below you can also see the silent art auction and how they set it up for us on the sunny Sunday morning of the festival. People could go around and write on the clip board how much they wanted to bid. I was a little nervous!


   

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of people seeing my artwork before its done, let alone when it’s just in the planning stage and many people ask if it’s done. That is why I like the festival, to push myself and get out of my comfort zone of a studio or a blank wall inside alone. Music, friends, food, art, and workshops this festival was a great way to connect with the community and introduce art at the same time.

 

My absolute favorite part of the weekend was getting to interact with people who were speaking about my painting, and then I was able to paint them into my piece. I loved the children getting excited about their cartoon character coming to life. My painting was a hit with children as the same children would sneak back to my painting about once an hour to make sure they were still in the painting. They were so engaged and it was incredible to make them feel included and excited about something creative.

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In particular one girl, Chloe stood out to me as she was more than an admirer, she was an assistant. This beautiful 6-year-old gave me advice about what things she wanted to see in the festival, composition, and she even got to paint a little of it with me. I appreciated her excitement and loyalty to the piece. She helped me out, and I enjoyed the company. Her family, all featured in the piece, ended up purchasing the piece through the auction and I could not be happier about it. Pretty special and it was a great experience.

  

Until next festival, Joshua Tree, hope to see you all in May!

Completion of Bike Tour- 1,500 Miles Canada to Oakland

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PleasantRevolutionIn June 2016 the start of summer, I rode the Amtrack train to Seattle, Washington from Berkeley, California. 24 hours by train with my bicycle panniers and an extracycle bicycle that I had boxed and ready for shipping. From Seattle, I joined with 12 other cyclists and we started out on a journey that would last 2.5 months and over 1,500 miles of pure cycling. We organized over 31 human powered festivals with the 4 bands on bicycles. We are called the Pleasant Revolution and put on Biketopia Music Festivals all over the world.

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We each had loads on our bicycles consisting of microphone stands, stilts, food, stove, pots and pans, 2 amps, a subwoofer (80 pounds made into a trailer), cables and more! At the end of the tour, I personalized the people that went on the entire tour into a drawing.

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1-adley  1-heather

1-kristina 1-maiesha

1-matt  1-molly

1-nate  1-nikki

We all had large bicycles making it possible to pull anywhere between 100-180 pounds. What is so challenging about bike touring? It forces you to slow down. If you need to ride 45 miles (which would normally take an average cyclist 5 hours to bike) in a group, it takes three times that amount. So you are slower, there is no destination because if you focused on that you would constantly be stressed and worried about getting there. In this specific community, you had to let go and enjoy. Swim, eat, talk, play music, and let things go with the flow. Sound easy? It was life changing, but with all that down time and time on a bicycle makes for some great reflection and inner work. I love cycling alone but with other people, it’s immensely powerful. I think its something that everyone could benefit from. You have to be strong physically but even more important, mentally. Balanced and rationale and put the group first.

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Here you can see the humans pedaling/making the electricity for the music. The bicycles have individual generators on the back wheel that are connected to a utility box designed by Rock the Bike in Oakland. From the utility box, you have output to the speakers and microphones. Pretty incredible!

The tour was incredible. The bike tour is so much more than cycling especially with the power of community and riding with a large group of friends with similar values and mission. Below are the group agreements created by the 2016 Pleasant Revolution west coast tour:

  • Slow is beautiful- take a breath, slow down, and pedal
  • Leave no trace.  Become a steward of the earth-  pack it in pack it out, clean up after others, dig a hole when you poo, gather wood in a considerate manner.
  • Be an active guest- consolidate your belongings, do a chore, cook a meal, give a gift.  Make your impact on someone’s space neutral or better than when you came.
  • We offer the highest musical and performance content.
  • To change the world, we must change our own consciousness and lifestyle, the bicycle liberates
  • Use music and performance as a political platform whenever possible.
  • We work to uplift the feminine in all of us to move beyond the patriarchs well as the binary to create balance in our group and ultimately in society.  We work to embody nurturing, supportive, loving energy among us.
  •  We respect to act in the highest regard for the webs of all life.
  • We operate on modified consensus- everyone’s voice matters and we won’t move forward on a decision if some have a strong block, however, if one is willing to stand aside even if the decision being made is not their preference the group will move forward with the decision.
  • Hold a culture which allows folks to speak any discomforts and work to address it right away
  • We work to educate and inspire the communities we travel through on fossil fuel alternatives.  We work to be a living example of sustainable living.
  • Everyone should strive for direct heart centered communication.  We should address conflict on a person to person basis, if the group needs to be called in we will facilitate that.  Take it to the source.
  • Everyone should be emotionally responsible for themselves, able to employ de-escalation skills on themselves when necessary.  
  • This is a Group lead tour- every person is a working part and doing their part. This is truly living interdependence.  We all have the opportunity to lead and be led.
  • We work to uplift everyone’s strength while also challenging growth in each individual.
  • Always do your best and have fun!

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    Here is the extra cycle Novara bicycle I rode for the tour. You can see the frame is extended backwards making the bicycle into a cargo bicycle. Her name is Gunther! Can you find the stilts?

We are talking about a 2018 6 month Europe tour that we already have a solid group of 20 cyclists for and I am already planning on making some murals for the tour and getting funding to make community art projects happen. Why do we start planning something almost 2 years away? We need funding, sponsorship, grants and more. It is  great timing for booking festivals and for planning out the route and logistics. I look forward to it.

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Santa Rosa to the San Francisco

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We made it back home! Can you believe it? All the way from Seattle to Bellingham, Vancouver, Salt Spring, Victoria, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Whidbey Island, Bainbridge Island, Seattle again, Olympia, Portland, Eugene, Brownsville, Coos Bay, Florence, Fort Bragg, Jenner, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Oakland! 

 

The last couple of days were wonderful, annoying the last moments. We ended up staying at a geodesic dome in Sebastopol with a pool for Nates birthday. We had a beautiful brunch in the morning to celebrate and rode a couple miles to our Petaluma to play our Farmers Market show.

 

The show was incredible, we were overwhelmed with all of the food that we were gifted to the crew and we loved playing!

On our way home, we were lucky enough to go by Yuba Bicycles headquarters in Petaluma and get a tour and talk to the people that work there. We test rode some bicycles. Two of our 10 extra cycles were from Yuba so we were happy to provide feedback and hang out with them.

 

For the final 20 miles, we decided to take a ferry into San Francisco. We were able to fit all of our bicycles and it was my first time to get into San Francisco that way. We were all so excited to see the city and it felt so weird to see that familiar city skyline. It had not really sunk in until that moment for me. We are home. My bed is close by. We are not sleeping in tents anymore! It was a very strange feeling I can not quite describe it.

  

BUT! Our shows were still not over, we had two more to play and decided to stay together as a group at night to not end the energy or disperse. We played a Friday night gig at Oakland’s art walk called “First Fridays” and we had a 10 bicycle system instead of our typical 4. There was also a huge double decker bicycle called “El Arbol” or “The Tree” that lights up and is also a generator bicycle as well. It was a beautiful show and we had an incredible turnout.

  

The second and final show that we had was at PLACE for sustainability where we had all the acts of the tour players, and I even got to sing a song. It was a blast and we spent the night all together to keep the tour going! The next day, it was hard to part and felt very odd. I still can feel the feeling but not quite put it into words. Pedaling away from everyone after almost 3 months of being together anywhere from 10-2o people at one time. We really loved the tour, hanging out with each other all the time and playing music with one another. We are even talking about riding 6 months and playing shows in Europe 2018 summer and there are still more plans in the work for the future of the tour! Thanks for reading and following. This tour has been a blast BUT there is more to come so stay tuned.

Jenner to Santa Rosa

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Leaving the coast was a much needed break from hills and from the dew filled air. The coast has such a dramatically different feel than even 5-10 miles inland. Jenner was beautiful, we met a man that owned the community center, and he let us stay at it. Everyone in the town of a population 136 were so nice and welcoming. The town lays at the mouth of the Russian River and is on the Pacific Ocean. The state route highway 1 runs through it, as well as the 116.

 

Typically heading inland there are a lot of hills, but to our surprise we didn’t hit any! We passed through Gurneville and had a beautiful dip into the Russian River and had some lunch before hitting into Santa Rosa, wine country and lots of traffic and cars!

Santa Rosa was amazing, we got to stay with Carolyn’s brother, Sean. He had a house and he let us stay in his driveway with our tents. We played a show at the Santa Rosa farmers market. It was amazing, we had a lot o participation and her brother came as well. We did a little wine tasting, a lot of riding and the anticipation of arriving at home is at the forefront of our thoughts! We are really trying to enjoy every moment. Less than a week left!

Mural in the Desert

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Where: Joshua Tree, California – Joshua Tree National Park at the Joshua Tree Music Festival; 8ft x 10 ft; Acrylic paint; 2016

Hot sticky dry heat; the type of heat that makes you want to shower with your clothes on. Gusts of wind make the sun bearable as live melodic music floats through the air leaving traces of dance moves. Joshua Tree Music Festival in Joshua Tree, California is a unique festival with gorgeous scenery and over 4 unique music stages with quality music from all over the world. I have found myself here for the second season in a row. It is a magical place located in South Eastern California and the park is slightly larger than that of Rhode Island. It is huge! It straddles the San Bernadino county and Riverside county border and has over two desserts, the Mojave and the Colorado each with their own ecosystem and different elevations.

File_000(6)This was the first mural I have painted for the festival and what an experience! There were hundreds of people getting to watch and explore the process with you throughout 4 days. The beginning of my murals are not my favorite as they are just one layer of many and many to come. Sometimes I get frustrated with this process as people immediately judge it and think that it is done. For example here is the start of my mural.

The Progression

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The Final Piece. 
Not much to see, but that is what is so beautiful about the art process. People do not know when it is done. They ask me all the time “Are you done” when I have barely begun. Process is so important because it teaches you not to be attached to the piece and to what the viewer thinks. I go through different layers of my art and it is hard to share this process sometimes. People ask me about it, want to know more. And to be honest, I do not sketch and I myself do not actually know what the final piece is going to look like. I prefer not knowing, and letting the experience of the setting, environment and people around me shape the way that I paint. That is super important to me, and talking about the piece is something I want to do, but more so on what the viewer experiences rather than what I intended the piece to be. We have so many opportunities in life to be told what to do, what to experience and what we should see. I want my artwork to be something that is always right, because it is a feeling and unique to each viewer.

I painted a total of 3 days in almost 100 degree weather and high blowing winds. It was not the easiest of tasks. Not to mention the fact that the board I was painting on was also moving with the wind! It was quite the experience. I had lots of patience and of course, the festival to take breaks and enjoy. I met so many wonderful people while painting. I was quite engaged with a handful of people that would come to me once or twice a day, check in and talk about the process. Many were surprised with the final piece. They would tell me that they would have never expected it to get to that point. I like that element of surprise. I had some great photographers take progress shots which was wonderful.
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My piece was next to a beautiful art installation about two years old. It was “The Swings” that had two large swings and you could play on them and feel child like with them. People loved the swings. They would stop at the swings way more often then they would look at my painting but of course, the painting was an after thought and they did come and see it if they were not too blissed out from the swing. I liked this experience because I could hear laughter of adults, children and older people that were so thrilled to have the swing experience. I think this had something to do with my painting. That emotion of you tummy going up and down, up and down. As well as the feeling of letting go. The laughter. Children saying “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE”. And there I was, quiet, observing in a secret spot just taking in all of the energy around me. Quite peaceful. It was a stunning installation. I was quite happy to be working alongside of it. The photo above, the rainbow metal structure is the swing.
There was also one interaction that really struck me and I will never forget. I was done with my painting, I had just finished on the Sunday, the last day of the festival. The sun was setting, I had taken all the pictures, cleaned up and was just sitting. I was looking at the final piece, wondering how I even created it and admiring the work, time and energy that I put into it. This was a contrast to the energy of the festival as people were running around and listening to music and dancing and I was able to exist in this alternative reality.So there I find myself admiring my piece alone.
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It is the last day and unfortunately the swings broke! No one was allowed to use them and they still would try to use them. I would do my best to tell people the bad news and ironically they would become more aware of my painting and I met more people this way. There were two women specifically that were trying to swing, and I said sorry-the swings are closed. Their attention was brought to my painting and they were speaking about it in front of it, not knowing I was the artist. I finally let them know that I painted it, and they were excited to chat about it. I told them my story about my mother and how I paint in her memory and the woman told me that she does the same. Her father passed just two years before and we had a wonderful time sitting in front of my painting connecting and getting to know one another. Really special and made me realize that in putting yourself out there, being vulnerable not only with painting in front of people, but in
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The mural took me about 20 hours total to paint, I used house paint that I got from ACE hardware. Just the basic colors and I mixed them. I use paint brushes and all is detailed with hand and paintbrush. I prefer the old fashioned way! I hope you enjoy the mural, whatever you see is what you are supposed to see. It is meant to be specific to the individual. Enjoy and thank you Joshua Tree for inviting me to paint with you!

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Biking to and through Los Angeles

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IMG_1127What a different experience it has been since we hit Santa Barbara. Next was Malibu, we camped on a hill near a construction site and behind a grocery store that’s was settled in a little forest. We actually door knocked for a little bit asking million dollar home intercoms if they had space for 3 tents. It didn’t work out too well. But the hill worked out perfectly.

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The next day we were on on way to LA to Venice beach and played a show at the WhitZend where we were greeted warmly and even had a green room to hang out in and play music before and after in. Incredible stage with beautiful lighting and awesome sound. I never thought it my life I would be playing music, let alone with all my friends and biking. Pretty wild.

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The next day we said goodbye to Gillian who set off to Costa Rica for a festival and then set off to Harry’s house that we met from Warmshowers. He sweetly offered us a place to stay about a 30 mile ride away in LA (yes the city is huge).

He was not home when we arrived so he left the house open and to our amazement were offered a guest house and a huge huge huge yard! It was a special place and as Harry said we “scored”. I love warm showers it makes me feel like I am not on the road but rather in a home. People that open their lives and houses to is really makes me believe in people and accept the generosity. Really it’s a full circle as we learn from each other and share experiences and stories. It’s truly beautiful.

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I was also able to see my friend Diana from college who happened to be in LA as well! What a great reunion, while i was gone she helped look after my things in the Bay Area at her parents house while I was traveling.

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Harry was so much fun to hang out with and after our two shows that we had in La we took a little break and stayed an extra day and played music and drank delicious wine!

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Unfortunately while at Harry’s my friends Carolyn and mega left back to San Francisco. So the dynamic of the group is changing it will for sure be a different ride.

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We have a show in San Diego on Wednesday so we are off riding our bikes 116 miles south!

Lompoc and Santa Barbara California

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Rode 62 miles from Lompoc to Santa Barbara. We got to see the ocean again! I missed it dearly! Found another cyclist named Cody from Vermont that joined our group for a while. Always nice to meet friendly cyclists on the road.

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We stayed with a warm showers house in Lompoc, with a Seattle native, Alden. We didn’t actually meet him he just gave us keys to his place and said make yourself at home. So generous and hospitable and there was a lot of seahawk gear around the house. I cant believe how open and welcoming people are of us!

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The essentials…kale, salt and vinegar chips, broccoli and a flower. The picture above is the backyard of where we camped in Santa Barbara.

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We get hungry…really hungry. We split the work load into teams, and everyone carries food evenly. Carolyn is our featured cook, we tried to get everyone to split the load but she is just so darn good at what she does! Coconut curry veggie stirfry was the hit of the tour. Adley, the inspiration and 3 time Oakland to Mexico adventurer and musician carries an amp and an electric guitar in his panniers. He is crazy. Literally, crazy. But he loves music and he loves what he does…and did I mention that he is also the fastest in the group? Not that I am keeping track, but really…is this guy serious?

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Once we hit Santa Barbara we stayed again with a warm shower host Alex who let us set up tents in his backyard. A musician himself his roommates and our band were jamming all night. We played a little bit at the farmers market and then enjoyed a good nights rest after I made lentil burgers and salad! Yummmmm! I am constantly in awe of how generous, welcoming and beautiful all the hosts we stay with are.

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Rafael, one of the house mates took us to a bike shop he volunteers at, Santa Barabara bike coalition and he helped teach us how to is our broken spokes and true a wheel! Great knowledge! I even picked up a bike bell! Ring ring! Love this place!

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Next we are on our way down south of course taking the Pacific Coast Highway and as many back roads as we can!

How to Start a New Adventure – Following Heart

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Traveling is a choice. We can chose to make time for it or leave it for our dreams. It takes making it a priority and follow through.

I say this all the time but you never will have enough money, or enough time, or the perfect scenario for traveling. Just do it, like today. Like right now.

I came back to the United States in May 2014 after being gone one and a half year in South America. I am not going to lie, I was pretty exhausted. I wanted to visit Seattle, my hometown, after feeling the need to connect with family and friends. I wanted to sleep in the same bed for longer than 2 days. I wanted a warm shower with my shampoo! Every time I walked into the same house, to find my bed, my clothes, my jewelry, my food etc, I almost became overwhelmed with thanks and appreciation. The gift of being in one location and building community is such a luxury! Never had I looked at my life from this perspective and still 6 months later I feel the same way. Its ingrained in me. I got rid of almost everything that I own in those months and really love to live the life in a more simple way.

So I worked 6 months in a bar and restaurant and made some wonderful friends and great money. Life was good! I was riding my bike, I was reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I even displayed my artwork in 3 different Seattle locations. My art inspiration was pouring out of me and my family was feeling closer than ever. Everything that I had dreamed life would be back home midst traveling was exactly the way I thought it would be and more. I got everything that I wanted. Really, it was all right in front of me.  So…why wasn’t I able to live out that life with full happiness? There was a little something in the back of my heart that was trying to tell me…something wasn’t right.

There are constantly times in our life where our heart speaks. It is doing it all the time. Turn left or turn right. This would be good for my body and maybe this would be maybe not the best. We make choices. Sometimes its literal and sometimes its nothing more than a breeze in the air that gives us a certain feeling. It is different for everyone. The heart is a small (or large) feeling in the back of our hearts that pulls on us in little tiny ways, and the only way we can listen is to be silent and trust. It is a small muscle that will grow so strong with practice and patience. And yes, absolutely this sacred gift is within each of us. We already know deep down what we need and want. It is just a matter of listening and acting upon that feeling, and that is what’s so beautiful about life: we are constantly having to make decisions and choices and its all up to our own individual hearts in the end.

The outcome of all choices will be beautiful either way. What is important is that we aware of where it comes from and how it makes us feel. In my life, I listen to my heart all the time. I choose to take risks, become uncomfortable, change the way I see things constantly to understand the world in a more harmonious and deeper way. That way works for me! I want to speak about growth with a stranger, with a loved one, with the nature. I want to soar higher than I ever knew possible. I want to push my body in ways I didn’t know it could go. I want to climb mountains and sail oceans. I want to learn new things constantly. I want to speak Spanish for months on end and I want to live my life the way my heart feels is right. Is there logic there? Absolutely not. Is there love there? Why that is what is fueling it.

So I made a decision to leave the life was comfortable and in January 2015 and was off to Oakland, California where I used to live for 2.5 years. There I found my good friends in a cooperative house living situation. Sharing food, house meetings, garden, giving to the community and working together to live a sustainable and healthy life collectively. Musicians, artists, open communicators, activists and heart followers. In this house I found my friends who were ready to take on a adventure with me. The adventure I had dreamt of – Bike touring.

I met a dear friend of mine, Lukas from Germany while traveling in Peru. We traveled together for a couple of months after meeting at a mediation retreat near Cusco. We shared so much together: painting, singing, trying new things, cooking, learning Spanish, English and German and making new friends. Lukas was traveling by bike. He was the first cyclist I met that had toured. I would hear his stories, see his pictures and how different of a perspective his travels were contrasted to mine (buses and hostels).

Ever since meeting Lukas I knew this would manifest for me in my life. I didn’t know that it would be this soon, and I was not prepared but when are you ever? When the opportunity is there you must take it! So I link up with old friends in Oakland who have made this trip two years in a row, onto their third. I had trust that I could learn the ropes from them, and travel with some friends for a bit. The group we cycle with is a band and we are called “Bicicletas por la paz” translating into Bikes for Peace. We play Latin circus funk and we carry all our instruments and have gigs lined up along the way as we travel by bike. We camp in campgrounds, in random places off the highway, in friends houses, use warm showers (couch surfing version for cyclists) and we meet beautiful people that take care of us.

Its going to be an amazing ride southward and I am up for the challenge. I cannot wait to see the different landscapes of California and Mexico in a new way. I do not have any plans. I don’t know when I will return, quit my job and moved my things into two boxes. What I do know that I will be following my heart and that is what I do best! I don’t have any answers, there is no “right way” to live. We just have to find what is right for us!

To end, as I was preparing for my trip I emailed Lukas asking for advice. This is what he had to tell me: “For your Journy I wish you happynes and fullfilment and that you will meet beautifull people. If the situation around you is difficult, you only have to conact with a silence place inside you. There is no fear, no problems. This is the reality. Loos all fear and trust in every moment, you are so strong! The most important things for a your Journey, is your Opinel knife a good tend and a air mattress…If you buy one, you will love it! But the most impotant thinks you need are not heavy but so beautfull. A huge bag full of confidence and the next bag full of patience and you need always a open heard. If you have this, the material things dont have a big importance.” -Lukas 

Bike Tour -San Jose through the Santa Cruz Mountains

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My first climb up a mountain! Wet wet wet wet conditions and mystical clouds filled the hilltops. There was lots of mud, a little getting lost and beautiful music from the frogs, swaying of redwoods and smells of eucalyptus. This ride was transformative as I learned how to interact with my body in a whole new way. I was learning how to ride this new bike and how to make it up long climbs, something I have never done before.

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It was incredible, blissful, almost journey like and magical. The mountains were incredibly difficult to ride up not to mention the 30-40 pounds we carry on our bicycles. I also found out my gears were not as good as anticipated making the climb harder. Going tomorrow to get my bike looked at.

Climbing the mountain took me places I never imagined I could go. Being so physically dependent on my body, almost as a machine was transforming in how I think about the way I treat and take care of it. The quality of food, drink, and love that I put into it is all amplified while riding because it depends on these things to run well. My body wants to be stretched and massaged and given power foods that give me strength and nutrients. I also found I snack more contrasted to eating large meals in one sitting as my body needs time to break food down.

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Once at the top of the 7 mile climb of Mt. Charlie on the old Santa Cruz highway we were faced with an 11 mile downhill one way road 40mph speed limit for cars. Going that fast (not 40mph but breaking a lot) was exhilarating and terrifying in the same moment because you don’t know the road conditions. As well, I wasn’t sure how my weight in the back of the bike impacted the turns and speed. I learned quickly and am constantly being challenged.

We arrived at mystery spot road in the hills of Santa Cruz where we were greeted with eucalyptus trees, more rain, a nice man named Alan with his dog Ronnie and a cave! Yes a cave which was our next venue for the band to play. Acoustic this time.

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The cave was built by hand in 1900 by two brothers who only used picks. You can see the marks upon the wall. They used the space after two years of building for a wine seller as it was cool and dark and well insulated. When prohibition hit the cave was confiscated in terms of the wine production. How tragic! Since then the cave has been through many transformations including a speak-easy and a place for elected solitary confinement. Quite a history!

Playing in the cave was magical and it was so beautiful to hear music from our friend Emily and hear the band Bicicletas por la Paz acoustically. What a magical group of friends I have with me!

So far we have been staying with friends. First night a mansion in Cambell complete with pool and delicious meals and warm showers.

The second night we slept in a palapa a round structure complete with wood burning stove and romantic rain music playing on the roof. We had a rest day in Santa Cruz as our friends Tim and Emily took wonderful care of us. Chickens, forest, barking dogs, magical fog and rain, and much needed rest it was a wonderful trip to Santa Cruz.

Incredible how wonderful all the people that we meet are in helping us in anyway. People love cyclists here in California and the roads are so wonderful for cyclists! So many signs and lanes for us

Bike Touring – The Starting Point Oakland

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Bicicletas por la paz! A travelling group of inclusive amazing cyclists who like to play music, smile and ride bikes!

We are off to Cambell San Jose area! This bike tour has started, 5 in total and we will be heading to Mexico over the next couple of weeks touring with all of our belongings on our bicycles. New adventure!

Well the first day of our tour was rainy, stick filled streets, and lots of wind. California hasn’t had rain in months and the first storm in a while has miraculously hit on our first day. But our spirits were high and we were ready to take on the 40 mile ride or so. We had to take the BART train to the most south station and started from there. It was ridiculous day to start as we were head on with strong winds and pouring down rain. We were just getting used to our bicycles and it was pretty horrendous for a first day!

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6 hours later and lots of different directions later we reached our destination at New Jerseys bar. At this bar we walked in soaking wet with tiny lakes in our shoes and we were cold! It was already dark and we were ready for warmth!

The show was wonderful, lots of high energy, painting and dancing.

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Now today we are off to Santa Cruz through the mountains to play a show in a cave tonight! 30 miles! Should be a good ride!

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Hopefully the rain goes away soon and we wont have to travel with plastic bags on our socks inside of our shoes and walk into shows dripping wet and cold! What is this Seattle?? The storm should only last a couple of days. Can’t wait to get south to see what this California sunshine has to offer. Ready ready for some mountains!

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Bike Tour Preparation

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Today marks the first day of our trip south to Mexico on bicycles! But first just to San Jose, CA. There are four of us riding today and more will meet up with us tomorrow and along the way!

Our group is called bicicletas por La Paz, translation is bikes for peace. We will be playing music shows the whole way down, I will be live painting and we are all riding bikes! There will be a lot of random camping, warm showers, couch surfing and visiting of friends. Some will be joining us along the way and others will leave us along the journey as well.

Click here for the bikes for peace website

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Where will we stop? How long is the trip? It’s open ended and there are endless possibilities.

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The house “Hurricane of Bikes” in Oakland, California has been my home the last week. It’s a collective group of 8 people who all take an active role in the house by sharing food, gardening and putting on community events. The space is unbelievable and typically houses a couple of travelers and couch surfers. I am so thankful for this experience as its prepared me for the journey and I’ve met many people that are so beautiful and unique. Thank you hurricane of bikes house!

Here is to our first day! Off to San Josee, California in the rain for our first ride. I am nervous to carry all that weight at once! It will be a great new experience

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