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.

1-omar 1-carolyn

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.

Oregon Coast on the 1 – Florence to Jenner

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We rode the next couple of days after Eugene through hot hot hot heat. It got up to almost 105 degrees and we would just soak our shirts in water to be able to withstand the heat. Thank goodness for swimming holes too! Champoeg State Park was the gorgeous location and still to this day, one of my favorite campsites. It is settled on the Willamette river and we had plenty of time for swimming and for hanging out. The hot heat really made the cold water enjoyable.

    

Inland Oregon has been difficult for us because the cars are not as friendly or accepting of cyclists. For example, my friend Nate and I were riding side by side enjoying music and riding together as we always do. Then, out of nowhere, a large truck came by and let go of exhaust into our faces and there was such an intense plume of black thick smoke we immediately stopped in our tracks. It was such an aggressive way to approach us and certainly dangerous.

 

  

 It makes me sad that people feel that way about us and cowardly drive away without engaging or knowing us. There were also people around this area as well that would yell “Get a job” and once I even got spit on. I think that this is such a small population of people that feel this way. Don’t get me wrong, we get way more positive attention and applause but there are dark sides to sharing the road with everyone, and especially motorists. Many people feel like we are getting in their way and that we should not be able to use the roadways.  I disagree of course!

    

We saw these cute guys in Elk, California on the coast. I kind of fell in love! What a pair!

We were happy to finally arrive at the coast as it brought cooler temperature and different terrain. We loved seeing that coast, large boulder rocks coming out from the ocean. The sound of the waves, and the bright starlit sky! Incredible! Lots of camping, sharing food and riding. I found that people on the coast were more used to cyclists and more friendly. This also made me appreciate riding the inland Oregon route because not many cyclists do it. I bet you many motorists we passed had maybe never seen anything like 15 cyclists riding together. The ocean route is much more popular.

   

  

 

  

So the coast was incredible. I loved hearing the ocean and climbing hills, like hills we had never climbed before. We passed many tiny towns, art was prevalent in the towns we passed through. Lots of artist coops and collectives. We met so many nice people and had epic camping spots.

  

  

We were on the coast for about a week and a half and I loved it all. Defiantly a lot of hills and crazy climbing. Did I mention that we weighed our bicycles and they ranged from 140-180 pounds? Crazy!

   

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!

Portland to Brownsville and Eugene!

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Thank you Portland for everything! We were happy to move on and experience Brownsville, the oldest town in Oregon which is where I had breakfast and a coffee with the Mayor. A city councilwoman showed me the art center as well. Apparently it is where they filmed Stand by me. A lot of people come from all around the world to celebrate it once a year in the summer time. It was a small and quaint town, above is the picture of Adley talking to the Mayor.

 

 

We rode through a trail for much of the ride. Went swimming in a cold river too!

We rode through Salem on the way to Eugene and found ourselves in the midst of a pokemon battle ground, or gym as the kids call it. We were laughing so hard at the game because it was the first time we had seen it in action, and the first time that some people in our crew actually knew how big the game was. This was a memorable moment!

Our first night in Eugene we played at Vanilla Jills which was a ice cream shop that had a venue in the backyard of the shop. We had a great turn out with tons of people dancing. It was epic!

 

 

We stayed at a cooperative in Eugene that was about a block long but all the houses did not have fences. Instead, they took down the fences and built homes, tiny houses and gardens. It was a flourishing community and we were so excited to stay there. Complete with a fish pond, treehouse and more! I feel so thankful I was able to stay there and meet such beautiful people, living out their dreams.

 

 

Our second show was Eugene was so much fun, playing at the park for the sunday street closures. Lots of people that supported bicycles. We stayed at a cooperative that hosted all 18 of us. We gained Sierra and Robyn during this time and Mike Cobb and Kelly came by too! The street closure was about 10 city blocks wide and there were so many families and people out enjoying the community. I guess they pick a different street each month of summer to be apart of the street closure. I say they pick some streets and do it year round! Amazing!

 

We had two big sponsorships come through in Eugene. The first was Nutcase helmets that donated a bunch of colorful and different style of helmets. The other was party in my pants which is reusable menstrual pads for women. All gear donated and we were so happy to be supported by them both! Thank you!

 

 

 

Olympia to Portland – 1 month stong

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Goodbye Olympia! We had three days to ride to Portland and took about 45 miles each day. We wanted to get into Portland for the weekend!

 

Olympia was really beautiful with a lot of rivers and trees!

 

 

 

Here is the group at the welcome oregon sign. There was an epic bridge that we cycled over and actually just a weekend after the famous Seattle to Portland ride so there were still sings on the ground welcoming riders and showing them the way.

   

Our first show we played at was for Velo Cult a brewery and bicycle shop. Yes, a bicycle shop with beer and a venue. It was the perfect setup for us, and quite hard for us as it was the first show we had inside. The sound was overwhelming but we learned a lot.

Our second show was at the sunday street closure for only bicycles and pedestrians! No cars and it was magical. I stilt walked and there were children that were learning how to stilt walk as well. It was amazing because they were staring at me with awe and loved my sparkle pants.

 

The third show we had was thanks to my friend Sarah Vitort who hooked us up with the Jade lounge. It exactly the show that we needed as the whole group came together and we tried some new songs. We even had one of the original pleasant revolution riders, Kipchoge come and play with us. Incredible night and I had another family member show up and stay the whole time! What wonderful surprise it was! I also got to see an old friend, Andy Vu. It was fun to see him again.

 

Portland was great, we spent about 4 days there and had a blast. Shout out to Mike Cobb and Kelly for hosting us at their home. It was a great place to call home and we enjoyed watching Mike fix bikes all day! Ah!

  

Seattle to Olympia via Vashon and Tacoma!

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Seattle was a lot of fun but also pretty exhausting! Tour is hard to balance between riding and playing shows. We find it hard to please everyone, but the balance of the group is wonderful because we have open communication and really enjoy spending time together. It is a pretty special group! So after our Mt. Baker show we rode to Vashon Island, we took the sunset ferry across the way. We joined with two Pleasant Revolution members Aaron and Colin who came with some crazy bicycles. Aaon on his tall bicycle and then colin on a tandem! It was fun to have them around, they contributed a lot and Aaron even bought our tickets for the Vashon ferry! So nice!

 

 

We had some friends on Vashon host us, and we had a beautiful night falling asleep to the orchestra of frogs and animals outside. The next morning I met for coffee with Alice, my old neighbor and friend of my mother’s that I grew up with. She lived next door to our cabin on paradise cove. It was great to catch up with her and get a coffee and treat. Later Michelle, Carolyn, Adley and I went to my mother’s grave and spent some time there. My bicycle flipped over at the grave site. It had never done that before. Of course, we had to got to the bicycle in the tree. The infamous and beautiful tree! I remember going there as a child and seeing the way the tree would change crushing the bicycle alive!

  

We rode through the island and that was so hilly! So many hills, I tried riding with “SUBrina”, our sub woofer that was made into a trailer. We took the ferry to Tacoma from Vashon and found ourselves in Tacoma at Point Defiance park. My friends Tyler and Robbie that I had met in Ecuador and then later cycled with Tyler last summer on the East Coast, were living in Tacoma. I decided to stay a night with them and we played in the park and enjoyed each others company. It was nice to be with them and enjoy some new friend energy!

 
 

The ride 35 miles was difficult as some times and it was just me. I enjoyed riding through the coast and the forest. Below is the Tacoma Narrows bridge that I find stunning!

 

 There is a octopus that lives underneath it, one of the largest in the world! The bridge at one point fell in an earthquake. Some of it is new, and there have been stories of orca whales that like to travel under the bridge!

 

 

The next day I cycled to Olympia alone maybe 35 miles and joined the group for our show in the Artesian square which had a water well that flowed right through the city. Fresh water you could fill up. Tyler and Robbie came to the show and it was so nice to have them there. The show was wonderful and we ended the day at a friends house and we camped on their front lawn. The capital of Olympia it was fun to experience it in a different way.

The Olympia show is below! Nice colorful mural behind was a great setting for us!

 

Here are some photos from the event thank you to Bunker for taking them for us!

 

 

Four Shows and Three days in Seattle!

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We rode from Port Townsend to Seattle and I got to ride over the Hood Canal bridge. It was temporarily opened for a boat to go through so we were able to ride it without cars moving which is special considering it would of been a loud and polluted bridge with all those cars! Lots of trees and magic!

Seattle, Washington! Again!

Seattle was incredible and we were so happy to be back, and in full action. For the three days that we were there, we had 4 shows and loved  every moment of it. Sunshine, swimming, playing music and enjoying everything that Seattle had to offer. We covered a lot of ground and got to cycle all around the city. Above are the photos from our second show at Gasworks park one of my most favorite parks in Seattle. We did an importu show there and the people loved it. We had a great show.

We found the crowd at Gasworks so wonderful and receptive of what we were doing, and that was an unplanned and last minute show. Goes to show its always good to have an open mind when booking shows and that you can always play something last minute. Below is a swimming hole we found with a rope swing on the Ballard locks.

 

The first show that we had is still my most favorite show that I have experienced. Partly because my whole Seattle community came! It was at Peddler Brewery with a bunch of picnic tables and a stage outside. My grandparents came, my dad and stepmom, brothers and sisters and cousins! It was a great show and I loved seeing my family on the bicycles and experiencing the whole show for the first time and after hearing so much about it!

The sweet Heather Perrea hosted us again and she had cleaned out her whole yard and we were able to have all (believe it or not) 18 people at her house! What a host huh? She was so special and accepting and loved having us and we couldnt of done the Seattle weekend without her. Below is a picture of her pup, pepper who loved having us there as well! THANK YOU HEATHER! We love you.

The next show was Outlander brewery and that was amazing, my friend Dragan hooked us up in the back patio on a Saturday night and we rocked an amazing show. My sister came out for some of it as well. I used to hang my artwork at the bar, its so nice to get support from friends for art, music and projects.

 

Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend and Beyond!

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We arrived from the black ball ferry mid day into port Angeles from victoria that took about one hour and 36 minutes on the ferry. Again, epic as we passed through the islands and through the US border and into the tiny cozy town of port Angeles. Home of the Olympic and Hoh national rainforest it is where many people get their start before their trek into the forest.

   

  

We arrived in town and wanted to play a show so we asked a bar owner we met on the ferry if we could play at his bar. Two hour later we were on stage praise on the sidewalk and then later elevated on a second story stage that looked down upon the bar. At the bar called “next door” we met a man who let us crash at his place less than a mile from downtown and the venue we were playing around. So many nice people along the way! Yipppeee! The outdoor sidewalk concert quickly turned into a full on elevated stage venue inside and we played a couple hours on this stage that was on the second story looking down onto the bar. A pretty amazing venue.

We slept in the lawn of a friend and played music around the bonfire!

Next we traveled next to port Townsend and along the way we passed by squirm which is where my great aunt lives!

 

This part of the tour was super super super important to me. After my mother passed in 2007 I started using my mothers last name as my artist name. Molly Aigner turned Molly Keen for my art and inspiration. I sign my paintings M. Keen and my mother has been with me through all my journeys and paintings. So meeting another Keen was amazing. She is a painter herself and signs her paintings M. Keen as well! What a blessing and amazing thing to have in common. We spoke of family and I heard stories I never had before.

 

I gave her a last minute call to see if he could have lunch or coffee and she agreed! Met me within ten minutes at the Mexican restaurant down from her home. What a gift! Her name is Marion keen and he is an artist and painter as well. He was married to my grandfathers brother, Stan. What a beautiful reunion it was!

Marion let me know that she has a son and family in port Townsend so I grabbed the number of drew. The next morning after we camped at a clearing in the fleet and made a lovely fire. We stopped for gas at a gas station and sure enough there came Pamela and Drew running to our group of cyclists and asking “Which one of you is Molly?”. They had found our group and the reunion was beautiful. The last time I saw them was apparently when I was only a couple of months old and I was in their wedding. They are Keen’s as well! I loved meeting them and getting to know them. I invited Pamela to our show and she came for the whole set with chocolate and gifts included! She was so sweet to connect with and just retired from working for the library for 25+years! What a treat it was to be able to get to know her!

The show was set on the water at a park and we had a great turn out. After the show we rode another 5 miles to a friends house where we slept in the front yard. It was a great place to stay for the night and we were all super tired!

 

 

The next day we were in route to Seattle! We rode a different way from Port Townsend to the Edmonds ferry! I was able to ride early enough to get dinner with my family and enjoy seattle! More to come on the Seattle shows that I have helped book and put together. It is going to be an amazing weekend! Stay tuned.

Canada! Vancouver, Salt Spring & Victoria

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Getting to Salt Spring island was a beautiful adventure. We saw pods of orca whales on the ferry boat, and did some Tarot and card making. I started to get pain in my wrist so my friend Justin and I switched out my handle bars and met the rest of the group at the ferry. From my understanding they went through a huge tunnel on the ride, that was not meant for cyclists. They had no troubles and a road angel showed up and rode behind them through the whole tunnel protecting them from cars. I am glad that they are all okay!

  

 

Here you can see the group looking for whales and all of the 16 bicycles packed on the front of the ferry. What a group we have! The ride from then ferry into the channel was incredible. Orcas are considered rare to see these days, so we felt incredibly lucky. We pulled into long harbor, salt spring island around sunset so the lighting was incredible and you could see more bright green trees than water or houses. What a special island.

 

It was hard to say goodbye to Vancouver but the ferry ride into salt spring island was unbelievable. We got to play an amazing show at Centennial park in Victoria and a show at the Farmers market in Salt Spring island.

I couldn’t believe the one hour ride through the gulf islands. Those orcas are still with me! The ferry rides have been nothing short of epic and incredible as we get to take them all around the route we are on. They are so nice to bicycles and to be out on the deck and listen to the sounds, smells and experience all that the Northwest has to offer. I feel really lucky to be from this area and to have experienced so many ferry rides in my life. Below if a picture of the first place that we stayed, and an epic rock formation from Salt Spring Island.

  

We played a show at the farmer’s market and got caught in a bit of rain. We stayed a total of 4 days on the island. We were so lucky to get another ferry ride to Victoria and then played a show at centennial park with the pouring down rain. People still showed up and even for our bike ride after. We had a little moonlight ride through the rain.

It is a small town and the farmers market that we played at was super cute. I think that playing at farmer markets is really the best venue for our bike music festival as there are tons of children, local people and local healthy food. Playing outdoors is definitely a strong play for us to play as well. Above is a picture of one of the three children that we got to play with and get to know. Here in the picture he told me he was catching butterflies.

  

  

The island of salt spring has a population of 10,000 people and is on a Quartz! It was beautiful intense energy. The first night I met a 92 year old woman with a property right in a cove. She let us stay under her apple trees in the front yard. We sang some songs into the sound and to our surprise there was a group of sailors that heard us sing and they began to sing back! They eventually took a dingy boat to meet us and turned out to be two drunken older guys. But it was fun to sing across the cove to each other. In the morning we headed for our hosts home. We stayed with a family for three nights – Ashley’s friend Michelle who he travelled with in Colombia and Canada! Michelle’s sister let us stay at the enchanted fairy farm.

 

 

They had three children on the farm, three horses and two cats.The property was super close to mermaid lake. A wonderful lake with super clean and warm water. We played a show for the couple that hosted us. It was a long ride from town to the house with quite the uphills!

 

  

 

Canada has been nothing short of stunning scenery, nice people and friendly drivers. We all agreed that this is an incredible part of the journey and unlike anything else we have ever seen! Beauty!

The next day we took the black ball ferry to port Angeles. We are so thankful for all of the bodies of water we were able to cross with ferries! Really special! This leg of the trip is epically impressive.

 

 

 

 

Lastly, below is Michelle crossing the border off the ferry. You can see how much space all of our bicycles take up in the below picture as well! We are a sight to see!

 

 

Bellingham to Vancouver

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We made it to Canada! Check out the above photo of the 4 bands with a burning man sculpture that was used 20 years ago and is pedaled by solar energy! Canada was epic and we are so happy to be traveling now around the islands and B.C. We love this place!

  

What a beautiful ride we had to get into Canda! Crossing the border from United States to Canada was a breeze, we had to ride on the I-5 to cross but it was relatively easy. We only had 33 miles to ride this day, so we swam, took lots of breaks (as we always do) and arrived to Vancouver to the house of Adley’s brother, Chris. Chris let us stay in his back yard and was so gracious with his home. There are now 16 of us, three more joined us in Canada. Craig, our drummer, Dara an amazing writer and experienced cyclist that took a group across the U.S. with a theatre group the Agile Rascals and then Mega, who juggles, sings and dances. She has ridden with the crew before in previous bike tours.

  

We stayed a total of 4 nights and played a gig at the Vancouver Art Gallery in conjunction with eatArt that helped us with the burning man sculpture. We had a beer garden and a dance floor. There was also tricycle bikes they brought that people could test ride that we pretty amazing.

    
It was an incredible show as we played on the steps of the gorgeous gallery.

   

The show was incredible. I was pulling people from the street with my stilts and our sound was incredible. It was a sunny and beautiful day. It was great to relax and take time in one city. Vancouver is gorgeous right on the water and at the edge of huge mountains and glorious hiking. I was so excited to get to know the area and to get to celebrate Canada day! July 1st, they celebrate the joining of three colonies, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Providence of  Canada into a single dominion within the British Empire. This all happened on July 1, 1867 .

  
We are in good high spirits and excited to continue the tour, meeting beautiful people and playing a lot of music. Have you gotten a chance to hear all the musicians on tour with us yet?

Check out the links below!

Biking WA – Mukilteo to Bellingham

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Rain started as a sprinkle as we drifted beyond the trees and the rivers and streams. Light playful rejuvenating rain. Heavy and thick getting louder and more powerful.

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Soon enough we were in full on downpour where our waterproof gear was suddenly not and we were chilly little bikers! For a couple of hours we rode in the rain. At first it was fun and exciting, but then it became cold and uncomfortable.

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The ferry was beautiful, and quite the ordeal with 12 bicycles. We walked on and the ride was only about 15 minutes to Whidbey Island. We were greeted with huge uphills! Beautiful, but wet ride! I am glad that we waterproofed all of our gear before it started. Because it did not stop anytime soon.

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We finally found a warm place to stop for lunch and made nori sandwiches and wraps then we’re off again. Beautiful and hilly Whidbey I remember coming to the island as a child and as a teenager for my grandparents’ reunion. Memories now shared with my present experience of this rainy bike tour. The land, so green and luscious. The trees, swaying with beauty, and the puget sound with smells of salt and seaweed. Smells from my childhood.

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We rode across the island only 50 miles to our camping site where we arrive with pouring down rain and tons of hills! One thing I love about this group is our ability to work together. We had two tarps. One tarp for cooking dinner and keeping the food and crew dry and the other for a team of people holding up a tarp so individuals could set up their tents! What an experience so organized and loving with all that rain! We were pretty cold and miserable. We warmed up quickly in our little tents and got dry as night fell.

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Here is the second part of the ride where we rode over a military part of the island. There was a lot of planes flying overhead and a navy base. It made for an interestingly loud ride amongst the beautiful green trees.  We made it to the Look Out Arts Quarry in Bellingham after two days and lots of rain! It was beautiful and we are thankful to have experienced that magical island!

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West Coast Bike Tour Day 1! Seattle to Muckeltio

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Imagine 12 people, 8 cargo bicycles, 4 normal bicycles, riding along the road with gear being carried completely by human power. We are talking about 2 powered speakers, 4 microphone stands, tons of cables, a mixing board, drum kit, a bass guitar, tons of percussion instruments, 3 guitars, 1-18″ subwoofer, a pair of stilts, merchandise and juggling balls! This is a list of gear we are carrying for our shows! In addition we also have our camping gear and bicycle load as well! It gets pretty ridiculous! The Biketopia music festival bicycle tour has begun!

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I met 11 of my friends and cyclists at the king street station in Seattle who all rode a 24 hour train from Oakland. We rode to my beautiful friends house Heather, who lives with her son, Luka and dog, Pepper. They have a stunning home in Ballard and she was gracious enough to let twelve people and 7 tents up in her front and side yard. It was incredible. We were so thankful to have her for our first night together, she helped us out way more than just a place to stay. She was our road side helper and let us borrow her car and did everything she could to support us. We don’t know what we would of done without her!

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The night was wonderful, everyone was super tired from the train and had a great sleep. In the morning we ran errands, had some meetings and interviews with venues and radio stations for our July tour dates in Seattle. This tour is going to be amazing.

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We left riding our first time together north at 5pm! There is a saying that we have in the biking community that the first three days of the bike tour is called the “The Three Day Hump!”. This means lots of problems on the road, getting to know your bicycle better and learning how to strap it and carry the large loads.

It was a late start, but thank goodness summer is here because sub set this day at 9:30 pm! We rode to Mukilteo about 25 miles and actually the police stopped us and asked us if we needed help. They offered us a place to stay, 92nd park just a mile from the ferry. Thank goodness for that because there were 10 tents!

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That night, the rain started! First it was just sprinkles but then more and more! The night was dreamy with frogs croaking and the raindrops playfully falling from the tents. It was a great first night on the road. I am feeling so thankful for my friends, my cargo bicycle and my community. It is a really special group!

Biketopia Music Festival Summer 2016

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This summer I am apart of an amazing group of 18+ humans that will be taking part in a beautiful project called the Biketopia Music Festival by the Pleasant Revolution! This 2016 summer, we’re touring the pacific northwest from Vancouver to the bay – twenty of us, musicians, dancers, clowns, jugglers, on bikes.

The Pleasant Revolution

For the past three years we have been organizing bike tours from California through Mexico.  On these tours we have carried all our musical equipment on bikes, but wherever we played, we had to rely on electricity.  This year, we hope to abolish our dependence on external energy sources by purchasing a pedal-powered sound system from the good people of Rock the Bike, a Bay Area based small business who’s been working for years to develop a sound system which runs completely off of kinetic energy generated by people riding bikes.

Purchasing a sound system from Rock the Bike not only supports their ingenuity and innovation, it also allows us to share our message in the most authentic way possible.  Your donation will aid in supplementing the cost of our two month bike tour; this includes cargo bikes, touring gear, musical equipment, food, camping and ferry fees.

Bike touring, and performing with a pedal powered sound system is 100%  community effort.  Not only are we learning to live through alternative means, we are also realizing the power of a group of passionate people joining together to accomplish magnanimous feats.  Every donation counts, even a small amount will get us one pedal closer to our goal.  Please follow us, share our story with your friends and loved ones, and let us know what you think!

Pleasant Revolution Group Photo

The cyclists:

Molly, Carolyn, Adley, Nikki, Kristina, Nate, Maisha, Heather, Omar, Finn, Matt, Mega, Robyn, Robin, Seairra and more!
Within the Pleasant Revolution there are a number of potential musical acts that could play depending on venue etc. which include but are not limited to:

1. Bicicletas por la Paz or “bikes for peace” which is a band I’ve played and toured with from Oakland to Mexico in 2015. They are a Latin circus funk band that has songs in Spanish and English.

2. Heather Normandale is a singer-songwriter, performer, independent music producer and music teacher. She studied music via anthropology, doing an ethnography of curandera music in Ecuador, interviewing street musicians in Quito, and then taking off on her own busking adventure through Europe with a team of musicians charging their amps with bike powered sound systems. Connecting with our deeper nature and the nature around us has been a constant theme in her activism to protect and preserve the wildness within and around us. Her most recent CD delves into the theme of water exploring the space between our earthy, aqueous nature and the subconscious. “Trembling Water” plays with our many connections to water, alluding to the creative process and our mirror like connection to nature. Her lyrics are rich and emotive, poetic and thoughtful. Rolling rhythms of finger picking on the banjo, mandolin or guitar drive the melody and message of the songs.
3. Kristina Bennett
4. Maeisha
Here is  a look at some of our shows coming up! We hope you can join us!

June 25th – Biketopia Music Fest, Bellingham, Washington – location TBD, for more info check Facebook event here.

June 26 – Boundary Bay Brewery, Bellingham, Washington – 12 – 3pm,  for more details visit the event page.

July 2nd – Biketopia Music Festival  at Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada –  3-7pm with bike ride to follow. For more details visit event page.

July 5th –Biketopia Music Festival at Salt Spring Island Farmer’s Market – in Centennial Park,  Salt Spring Island, BC,  12-5pm.   For more details visit event page.

July 8th –Biketopia Music Festival in Centennial Square,Victoria, Canada. 6-10pm. — for more details visit event page.

July 12 –Biketopia Music Festival in Pope Marine Park, Port Townsend, WA.  3-7pm

July 15 – Peddler Brewing Co. in Seattle, WA  at 7pm for an outside bike music festival. For more info see event pagewww.peddlerbrewing.com

July 16– Biketopia Music Festival at BikeWorks Seattke, WA–  3-7pm with bike ride to follow. More details coming soon.

July 17 – Outlander Brewery and Pub in Seattle, WA. 

July 19 – Biketopia Music Fest at Artesian Commons, Olympia, WA. From 5-9pm – for more information visit event page.

July 30 –Biketopia Music Fest, Portland, OR

More TBD

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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Proyecto de Pedaleo – Collaboration Mural

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This is one of my most favorite projects I have ever done. The murals that keeps painting itself…

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Baja California

The Inspiration: As many of you know, I am not a stranger to staying on peoples couches, floors, back yards of anywhere I can with a tent. My journeys have been filled with hospitable and beautiful humans who have treated me like a family member. Among the many Lupita and Gabino from San Quintin stand out to me as shiny examples of this. Parents to daughter, Stephanie, they have welcomed hundreds of travelers yearly who bicycle down the Baja Mexico. They took me in for almost a week!

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They are made me feel like I was apart of their family and took care of me in ways that parents would. I met them at a hard time in my travels and they made me feel that I was not alone. Lupita and Gabino have so many travelers stay with them, they made a guest book and started having people write entries. Then it turned into a map where people would pin where they started their travels from. The day that I first stayed with Lupita and Gabino they were full of excitement for me to mark with a tiny tack where I traveled from. They led me to a large map that was covered in plastic lamenant and many different colored pins all over the map of the world.  It was incredible to see these physical pins from so many people. Connecting the world to make it seem smaller and that we are all the same. I was so inspired.

I knew this idea would come up again. And sure enough, three weeks later I was able to make it happen at the “Casa de Cyclista” in San Ignacio, Baja Mexico

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The Process: I ask to use some paints from the surrounding neighbors in Mexico and many of them laughed at me and then watched me paint from the street. They had no idea why I would want to borrow paint from them. Sure enough I found green, blue and white. The only colors we found. It was enough though and after one day of sketching (I typically don’t sketch but figured I had to in order to get the world perspective right) that I was underway painting.

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How long: It took me almost 4 days to paint. I had a little helper with me who got me coffee, and sharpened my pencil. He also just watched in awe as I painted. He would even help me erase my pencil lines. What a beauty this little helper was!

The exchange: Free stay and food for the mural.

The Location: San Igancio, Mexico at the Casa de Cyclistas. Click here for the Casa de Cyclistas Website. Thank you to Casa de Cylistas and thank you to Lupita and Gabino, ustedes tienen un lugar especial en mi corazón!

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Mural in Oakland 

Standard

moon-and-back

Where: Oakland, California at the Oakland Music Compex (OMC) in West Oakland with acrylic paint; January 2016

Happy New Year Mural! This piece is located inside the music studio of musicians. The building is amazing and is home to many working artists who practice and record. While painting I could hear multiple bands at one time.

I started with the moon and got into a drippy white paint scene and then started with writing out the poetry that the musicians selected. Poetry, lyrics, words and drawings. The musicians and I (Sara and Max) came up with the concept. We wanted something with words, but not over the top. We wanted to words to fade out and then become stars and constellations. We made sketches this time, which I normally do not do, and it was helpful in the creation of the piece.

The Progression:

 

  



Here I am! This was day 2 in the process. Below are more detailed images of the poetry and intricacy of the words,

 

   

  

   

The writing is poetry from the band, it is not meant to be read easily. I want viewers to engage with the piece and have to try and read it. In addition it makes the energy more scattered and interesting. I like the idea that you have to work for it! I think I put something like 30 different poems and sayings and songs.

 

   

How long did it take: 4 days, 8-10 hours a day

What I learned: Painting on a ladder is dangerous. Especially if you are on the top step! Communicate with building managers before you begin the mural and take more progress shots! It would be great to do some progress videos.

The Exchange: Paid commission

Whats next? I am on the hunt for a studio space in Oakland so hopefully some shows and some good time for making new work!