Tag Archives: california

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!

 

Mural in Oakland 

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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!

Dana Point, San Diego and Ocean Beach

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image I love this part of California. Great bikes lanes, gorgeous roads and just endless amounts of cycling. I really love it. South, south, and more south we go! Off to Dana point where we stayed with a family in the hills who had 3 dogs and a very interesting story to tell. We found them through warm showers and they gave us a place to stay and a warm shower and even cooked us dinner. What a lovely experience.

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They were a couple from Houston and love to tour. They just moved to California for the husbands job which involves helping dismantle a nuclear waste site that is near the ocean. He said it takes about 30 years to do. When they retire hopefully in 5 years they want to bike tour and pretty much live on their bikes. Super nice family.

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The next day we rode about 45-50 miles to Encinitas to see my family…Amy and Matt and the kids (5 total!!!) and get to spend time catching up with them and getting to know each other all overs against. It was so great, we had dinner together and we took the golf cart out the kids and i got some snuggle time with their two puppies who are adorable. What a great nights sleep!

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 Sal gave Adley and I the grand tour where we saw the property including the wine cave (above), that we says is haunted. We saw rabbits and dogs and horses and a swimming pool! Truly a unique and beautiful house. Maddie let me sleep in her bed and Adley slept on Sal’s floor! I loved it!

Next we were off to the San Diego Ocean Beach farmers market to perform on the street. We said goodbye to the family, saw the kids off to school and were off! Beautiful warm sunshine and a lovely day in front of us!

At Ocean Beach it was an actual gig and they help us get set up with a whole sound crew. I had my first solo back up singing experience and we just had a ball! I ran into a girlfriend I met back in mazunte Mexico last year when I was getting yoga certified. Small world! Here is to growth, new challenges, new perspectives and letting go of worry. Too many times do we plan ahead or think about yesterday when the moment is here. To live now. To be content, thankful and full now. Tomorrow off to Mexico tomorrow!! Dont know if I am ready for it yet, California went by so quickly!

  

*all of these posts are posted a week after it happened! We are currently in san quintin Mexico but blogs take time and internet! Love you all!

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!

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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