Tag Archives: Painting

“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.

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

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

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

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

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

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Welcome to the “Flying Colors Mural Project”

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The Flying Colors Mural Project tour is in full swing! I arrived at my first leg and the first mural in Barcelona and will start painting this week at Primavera Bed and Breakfast!

I’ve been working on this project for some time now and it was inspired by my experience painting murals in South America. I wanted to create a project that was interactive, mural based and community centered. I want to share this project with you as it is near and dear to me.

Mission:

The Flying Colors Mural Project seeks to create murals with youth and adult to create a more approachable, collaborative, and interactive connection where the focus is on the development of creative and personal skills through painting, hands-on workshops, and community gatherings. 

History:

Created in 2017, the project began after lead Artist, Molly Keen, spent two years painting over 28 murals throughout Cartagena, Colombia, Palomino Colombia, Salento Colombia, Tena Ecuador, Cabanaconde Peru, Puerto Maldanado Peru, Sucre Bolivia, Puerto Madryn Argentina, Punta Arenas Chile, Puerto Madryn Argentina, Chicen Itza Mexico, and San Qintin Mexico. 

Keen quickly saw the impact of female street artists throughout Latin America who were inspirational to their country and the world. She quickly realized the lack of attention and focus on these female artists and encouragement of women to start painting at a larger scale. Women such as Colombian Street Artists Gleo, Zurik, Bastardilla and Ledania as well as Argentinan Muralista Fio Silva represented art and activism creating a remarkable memory in the creative mind of Keen. They created works that were large in size and importance in content.

Goal:

With the project, Keen seeks to utilize her skills as an art mentor to past summer camps, vision as a creative independent artist to show that anyone can paint and even more, we can do it together. The long-term goal of the tour is that it will start in Europe and circle back to Oakland in May where throughout the summer community murals will take places at family camps of festivals, youth summer camps, schools, and various locations.  

The project seeks to unlock the spirit of one’s creativity to experience the world in a way that develops color, new ways to live, and a creative way to self-express.

The tour will start on January 17th in Barcelona and head to Lagos Portugal, Porto Portugal, Dubrovnik Croatia, Germany, and the Netherlands totaling over 3.5 months and 6-7 murals.

In Conclusion…

My blog “Painting Molly”  is over 6 years old now, can you believe that? I have designed it for you to get a closer and more intimate, behind the scenes look, into the mural-making process and travel adventuring. Traveling can sound romantic and intangible but the reality is that it is hard, requires an incredible amount of energy and the ability to leave your home and get outside of your comfort zone.

Traveling has become a dream for me and I am full of excitement to be able to share this experience here, with you!

Oh, and if you know of cities, towns or locations in need of a  mural within the route in Europe, feel free to reach out! Also, a special thank you to Chris Gallen who recently helped me to create my new logo! What do you think? Thank you, Chris, for this incredible gift! You can click on his name for a link to his website. Amazing!

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:

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!

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.

IMG_9183 Here is the first part of the ride from Mukilteo to Fort Ebey State park that was right on the water. It was a beautiful spot, but unfortunately rained the entire time. We were greeted with quite large hills on the end of the ride, which was difficult.

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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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Biking Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsyvanlia, Philly, Delaware and Beyond

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Cycling, cycling and more cycling down the East Coast!

    

Above is a Rail to Trail, converted rail road tracks made into a trail that was 17 miles long. So many people were using the path and it was one of the most enjoyable, car-free trails I have been on. It creates a strong sense of community by having those biking trails,

      

  

The 17 mile bike path was incredible and every time I found myself on a trail with no cars and dense silence from the trees around me, I always was thankful for it. That is why I ride, for that serene and full feeling of being immersed in nature.

With that said, some of the bicycle paths that I took (via google maps) were absolutely horrible in the sense that I had to walk my bicycle because the sand was so thick and impossible for me to ride. There were sometimes the roads were 2-6 miles long and often I had to turn around because it was so ridiculous. I follow whatever google maps tells me to follow, and sometimes I think that it was made for off road dirt biking!

  
  

I continued from Rhode Island south in to Connecticut where I rode on a bridge hundreds of feet in the sky. I was alone and pretty scared as well as claustrophobic being that high up. The bridge lasted a couple of miles and was over a huge river. It was a path that was squished next to 5 lanes of traffic and when another cyclist passed by, it was hard to squeeze through! What a rush!

   
  

 

From Connecticut I took the ferry across to Long Island and rode to meet my friend Tricia who I met and was friends with in Oakland CA. She now lives on Long Island where she grew up and has a son and husband now. It was lovely to catch up with her and spend a couple nights on Long Island. We went to a cross fit competition in long beach for all one day, swam in the ocean which was incredibly warm and got to catch up with one another.

   

   
 

Long Island was beautiful and full of vineyards and agricultural land. The houses are huge and old and apparently its become quite expensive to live out there. I saw a lot of horses, deer and animals too!


  
 

From Long Island I took the train a bit and then rode into NYC and met my friend from college, Jon who let me stay with him for a couple days. Jon and I ventured all over the city and had a great time exploring the 9/11 memorial, Central Park, Empire State Building and many other sites! It was one of Jons first time riding in the city so I felt so honored to explore with him. I really love exploring cities and being able to do it by bike, exploring bike paths and falling in love with bike riding all over again. I cant get enough of my bicycle!

 

  

   

I absolutely loved New York. I was blown away at the public transportation, how easy it was to bike anywhere in the city, and how pedestrian friendly it was! At some points while riding, I could see multiple buses, train cars, subway trains, bike paths, car paths, and waterfront spaces for pedestrians. This city has a great mapped out infrastructure and I don’t care what anyone says about riding a bike in New York. Its possible! Not only is it possible, but its a magical thing to experience. I would definitely be commuting if I lived in NY.

   

  

   

Next stop was Philadelphia where I stayed just for a night with some lovely people from Warmshowers. I saw a lot of murals and left promptly because the Pope was in town and it was hard to get around. It was a rush riding into Philadelphia as I was riding solo and got into some bad parts of town. I felt quite vulnerable on my bike. There are roads to go around these parts, but in many ways I like to ride through the whole city to experience what it is really like. Maybe next time I go with someone!

  

  

Next stop: Washington D.C. where I found my friend from childhood who let me stay with her a couple of nights. I loved D.C. it was very clean, organized, had free museums and I even got a glimpse of the Pope! I was able to see my childhood friend, Lauren Goodman and we had a wonderful time walking around the city and seeing Georgetown where Lauren went to school.

 

 

Next was Atlanta where the city was organizing an outdoor weekend music festival featured around rap. It was another world, like anything I have seen. It was interesting!

  

 

  

From D.C. it was onto Durham where I was reunited with Soul Sister, Gillian and I was fortunate to stay with her for a weekend. It happened to be Durham Pride. Highlights included donuts, days of rain, and my beautiful friend!

 

 

Next was Atlanta where I met up with a vehicle and friend Jesse who ended up giving me a two week ride cross country. We camped, stayed with friends, and met new friends along the way. My bicycle went with me as well, and so it was again wonderful to explore the cities that we traveled to by car.

The next stop was Nashville, Tennesse. Although out of the way, so glad we went to this city because it was full of great music, interesting people, and a lot of sights to see. They had a great bike path through the outskirts of the city so you can get around pretty easily by bicycle.

  

 

   

   

Next was New Orleans!  It was a city that reminded me of a town in Colombia called Cartagena because of its Spanish and French architecture and for the tropical climate. It was hot hot hot, which apparently to the people of New Orleans was not that hot contrasted to what they dealt with in summer.

    
  
  

I felt it was hot! We spent a couple of days in NOLA and enjoyed swimming, parks, and friends! There was even a gorgeous tree that had chimes hung to the branches which created an art tree with an orchestra of healing sounds. What a colorful city! Vibrant, diverse and amazing!

  
  
  

Then is was Austin Texas! A place that I have always wanted to go, and almost moved to directly after college. I got to see my cousin, Elizabeth there and really get to know the city riding around. Lots of bike lanes and lots of biking!

  

  

Then onto Arizona, Tucson! We just stayed for a short time I did not feel like I got a good grasp on what the vibe was like. But lots of driving and lots of freeway. I am definitely not a big fan of driving I think most of you know!

 

  

 

These last bunches of photos are from our camping journey a couple days on the way back home. This was in New Mexico and we found a cool place off the freeway. It was quiet and the stars were loud!

  

Then we were onto Joshua Tree where I linked up with the Joshua Tree Music Festival! I was able ot see my riding mate Maud, who I just absolutely love! She was in Southern Mexico and decided to take a month break in LA. I was so lucky to link up with her!

  

  

  

What a great way to end the tour! Since I was so close to LA I just decided to work a couple weeks out on Catalina Island. More of that to come….I feel so lucky to have my friends that I have met along the way. This journey of bike touring the east coast has been filled with love, exploring and change. I feel super clear minded and open, I feel charged with love and space for more change. I am always growing and transforming. Just because I challenge myself by traveling and learn a lot still does not mean that I know everything. I am always open to new experiences and exploring new spaces. I feel full of gratitude for all I have seen and done. Now is a time for rooting and grounding. Lets see how it all unfolds!

Love you all! Thanks for supporting me!

Boston, Massachusetts

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I spent a little over two weeks in Boston had a great time getting to know the city. I have always wanted to visit Massachusetts! I stayed with different groups of friends and strangers that became friends.

     

Above are pictures of the arboretum in south Boston. Such a beautiful place. I learned a lot about myself and more about what I want for the next couple weeks of my adventuring. I have been so blown away by the love and support that I’ve received while in this city. I got to reconnect with some old friends, visit my cousin, go on many bike rides, and meet other cyclists who are passionate about riding. I just feel lucky to have spent the time I did.

   
   

Above Ian would speak to morning and afternoon bike commuters about bicycle benefits. Sometimes the line of cyclists would be 30+! Pretty amazing. Boston has tons of riders and maybe not the best infrastructure, but the people are committed to make things more safe. Here above is also my friend Jesse from Oakland who used to live in Boston just visiting!

  
     

 I was so lucky to be able to go to Boston bike party which so happens in Oakland as well. It’s one of my most favorite organized rides where hundreds of people get together and ride 10-15 miles and there are planned stops where there is music and just hanging out. Sometimes there is a theme and people get really into it. It’s a great place to meet people. Then I took some screen shots of some instagram posts from a host we had. She liked our “hippy camping” set up. It is quite the urban sight to see I will admit. Oh and do you see my mailbox and sprouts growing on the back of my bike?   
      
Lots of beautiful scenery mists the chaos of the city I loved waking up for sunrise and finding a place to watch sunsets. 

 

    
I volunteered with MassBike to do some bike parking at the Red Sox game and got a free pass to check out the game at Fenway park. Surprisingly small!

    

 Here is me and other Molly and Sasha, new girlfriends of mine! What a special time it was with some ladies that I really connected with! This picture was at a potluck/clothing swap.

The pictures are from Franklin Park just south of Jamaica plain outside, south, of Boston. Beautiful park that has a zoo, a golf course, and many ponds and green space.

  
   


When we first arrived to Boston we were welcomed with an organized ride that was 20 some miles, and there were 4-5 stops and it was during the day. Very similar to bike party but more small and intimate. Anyways, at each stop was a planned musical stop so it varies from one guy at the top of a pillar playing music, to a DJ to a full on band playing at the top of the hill with free snacks and another full band near the greenway of the Boston Airport. It was an incredible experience.

   

Valle de Los circos -Socorrito to Catavinya

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Lanky waving Dr. Seuss cactus, bright liquid blue sky saluting, puffy cotton cloud drifting, excruciating intense heat riding, melted deteriorating pavement has been consuming my reality these last couple days. It’s been truly incredible but the desert has been challenging. It has been a couple of weeks since I have wrote, so this post is almost 3 weeks worth of travel. A lot, a lot, a lot of desert. So many cactus and so much dust and sunshine! No shade! Ah!

 

 

San Quintin was an experience I will never forget staying with the Gomez family for one week! they treated me like a daughter and really became my family! I feel so grateful for people like Gabino and Lupita!

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I ended up painting some hummingbirds in their kitchen and a little bike mural in the garage! Adley  and I even got to play a little concert for a family gathering!

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Leaving San Quintin with a new riding partner was by far the worst ride we have experienced yet! I have a new friend, Maud from France who is riding from LA to Peru alone. We decided to ride together and our first experience was in 107 degree weather and incredible side winds creating a tornado of dust and rocks and making it quite dangerous when riding alongside trucks and cars that block the wind and then suck you in near their wheels as they unblock the wind from you. We only made it 30 km when Maud felt sick and we paused on the side of the road. Here we were stopped by a green truck where a Mexican American Alejandro appeared like an angel.

  

 

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He offered us a place to stay for he night and maud and I desperately needed a place to hide away from the wind and heat. His house sits alongside the ocean and he provides us with food and beds and was so welcoming and amazing to us. He cycles himself and was excited to have us. We actually ended up staying 3 nights there as maud got better and we met some amazing friends on the beach. Some American boys from La traveling by van and surfing and two American girls who were road tripping and celebrating their 30th birthdays. We had a camp fire and swapped travel stories. So much fun and exactly what we a needed!

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So we were off on the road again and into the desert. We camped a couple nights in the desert and then I got sick darn it. Probably the same thing Maud had. Really traveling is amazing but it can be hard! I was so sick and riding a bike through the desert in 100 degree F heat, cooking on and in the sand, cactus camping and so badly wanting the comforts of a home when not feeling well. Not to mention we are not even close to being out of the desert, not even close!

This uneasy feeling must easily be accepted or you will not have a pleasant time. These roads bring into the reality of death and peace. The cars pass now every 10-30 minutes and it’s much more tranquil of a ride.

You can enjoy the wind and the smell of the native plants that remind me of sage. Their scent fills the warm air. Here kilometer markings are signs of our progress and I count each one knowing that soon we will reach a town with water. We must bring enough water and food for a 3 nights stay. 10 liters of water adds a lot to the weight of the already heavy pack. I would guess my head now weighs 60 pounds.

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One day we were riding through the desert exhausted and with unbearable heat and flagged down 5 cars for water. 4/5 cars were American and gifted us water, Gatorade and one person even had Halloween bags of candy for us ha. People are very generous on the road. Then we continued 30 km more to the closest town Katayina where we were in awe of the change of scenery from desert nothing to huge giant boulders and enormous towering cactus. Here they call the town an oasis and there are petroglyphs still preserved you can walk right up to and a river! We took a whole day off and swam in the river and enjoyed the oasis while we had it. That was our first rinse in 4 days! While Maud, my friend and I were checking out the petroglyphs high up in a cave we saw from way below a tiny figure with a bike! Another cyclist!

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We met a 25 year old cyclists Cameron from New York who had just finished a cross US country tour this last year and is now cycling with us. How cool! And what a fun way to meet someone! We set up camp near the side of the 1 highway and then a Canadian motor bike slowed down near us and asked if we needed help. We replied no and invited him to camp with us. So from 2 to 4 we camped 2 nights and made some new friends! We shared meals together and had a fun sharing stories. Below is some of the petroglyph and the trailer that Ramon lives in who let us camp in his yard.

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As far as riding, we never know how many kilometers we will do each day, where we will sleep or who we will meet a long the way. Sometimes we meet people like Eugene whose grandparents created the town of rancho Calamata. It’s a town with the population of two buildings, 5-6 people, 20 cows, 3 horses, 20 chickens, 2 peacocks, 3 dogs and 1 kitten. The only have solar panels and make money from truckers and having a restaurant. Eugene continues to tell us the story of his father in 1925 who met the governor or Mexico who actually came to meet the father and telling him news that they were going to build a road through Baja. The father was not pleased and continued to tell the governor that he wouldn’t live to see the day that happened. Well a couple decades later and sure enough the road was built and the father was greeted by the governor again but this time with the first car he had ever seen in his life a ford from the states. He ended up driving the car and accepting that the road was built. Eugene tells the story with such “animo” or enthusiasm that it makes you want to make a film out of the stories he tells. What a crazy bunch of people in that town we spent one night there and he gifted us coffee and water which was essential for our voyage.

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Above, one of the things that really disturbs me while riding (and there isn’t much that does) are the crosses that are on the sides of the roads. They are quite a literal symbol of death with names, dates, and loved ones writings etc. showing how much they miss their loves ones. Most of the accidents are truckers and most of them are at night, but still they are quite the sight to be seen. Next to the picture above is Maud’s back trailer that was stuck in the mud. What a mess, we got stuck for a little bit but also long enough for me to take a picture!

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Here in the small “town” I met a French family a dad and two boys that were traveling around the world and were on their way to southern Baja to study the whales as there are many grey whales living in the southern part of Baja. The family was truly an inspiration as they travel together and had such an array of experiences and history I really enjoyed speaking with them. This is one of my favorite parts of traveling is speaking with people, especially other travelers and hearing honest stories and different perspectives on their view of the world. Just amazing!

Below is a picture of a tire store and the sign for the shop is made out of tires and is an elephant. Can you see it?

  
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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!

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!

Ballard Kiss Cafe Solo Exhibition, Seattle, WA

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Proud to announce for the month of January 2015 I will be displaying my work at Ballard Kiss Cafe in Ballard, Washington. I am super excited as it is a lot of my new work. Featured are 12 different acrylic pieces, its a great show be sure you check it out!

Thank you Ballard Kiss Cafe, and to Raymond Owens for helping me set up the show.

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Mexico Flashback

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Here is a photo from a friend of mine who is still in Mexico and he just it sent my way.  Uno is his name. It gives great perspective and look into the Lumerian Embassy Mural I painted in the Yucutan in May. As winter, rain and cold are approacing in Seattle, I am thinking a lot about travelling again. Maybe a Mexico Bike Touring trip?! More painting and perfoming to come! However here in Seattle I am now working on a project for Couth Buzzard Books up in North Seattle, Greenwood area and also working on some new pieces for my upcoming show at Ballard Kiss Cafe in January. More to come!

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New Molly Keen Studio at Gasworks Gallery, Seattle

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This month of September I opened a studio space to create artwork. The space is in the community of Gasworks Gallery where artists have separate creative spaces to work in. It is super important for me to separate my work space and my daily life as it creates a different flow and motivation. I am excited to see what will come out of this new studio!

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The space I selected has four large windows, tons of light, storage space, is on the second floor and has great energy for making new work! It is an old warehouse building, located just next to Lake Union and the Ivars on the water.

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Here is me carrying canvas to the studio. I dont have a car and as an artist, I thought I would invest in a rental car company like ZipCar or Car2Go but really I was determined to get canvas squared away just by bike and it is totally possible. Well, for now anyway. I do want to get a little bit bigger in my work so it will be interesting how that works in rain and with a 5 foot canvas!

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Stay Tuned for new works and shows!

Seattle Wedding Piece

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Did I mention custom paintings that make great wedding gifts? I also do special pieces if you want to give a gift of art to a friend getting married!

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To celebrate the marriage of my good friend Peter Ackley and Jessica Burke I custom made this piece. The wedding was in Chelan, Washington and I couldn’t buy a gift for the couple do instead I made a Seattle inspired acrylic on canvas piece.

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It is 20″ X 24″ in size and was a treat to paint. More to come with Seattle inspired pieces and a studio opening soon in Seattle! Stay tuned!

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Cookie Factory Mural

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Sweet smell of baking goodness fills my air as flour rises to my face and the sound of cookies dancing along the conveyor belt fill my existence. I climb high to the last step of the ladder, almost balanced and gaze at the factory high above all else. Spanish music is playing and I am put right back into my travels in Mexico. 5 days of painting and endless amounts of eating cookies, I finished a couple murals/projects for WOW Bakery Seattle company that stands for “WithOut Wheat”. The factory is based out of Kent, Washington.

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One of the main reasons that I painted for WOW was that they wanted their factory colorful and fun because they were filming for a TV show. Food Networks “How it’s made” was featuring WOW and I agreed to help make the factory a little more colorful and flowing.

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This past Friday they filmed a production TV series “How it’s made” for the cookies. The cookie factory was looking a little white and I agreed to help paint some of the walls and make the factory up with color.

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Where: WOW Bakery located in Kent, Washington United States.

What: A couple different murals, writing and cookie magic designs.

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Exchange: Paid gig now that I am back in the states. I charge based upon square footage and time.

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What I learned: What a unique experience painting among cookies being made and then being packaged. I was intimately in almost all corners of the factory painting various words, phrases and little cookies.  To watch the process start from butter and flour and then to smell the cookies being baked, watch them being cooled by fans, and then ultimately put into a little machine that spits them out into bags and then packaged and ready to go. One of my most favorite things was to watch them switch flavors and to always smell a different aroma in the air. The workers were super friendly and in fact many spoke Spanish so I was able to continue speaking.

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