Tag Archives: paintings

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!

 

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!

mural for Mexico

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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Yoga Teacher Training, Mazunte, Mexico

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Welcome to Mazunte home of lushious beaches, skinny palm trees, liters of organ juice, sultry surfing, vortex magnetic sunsets, star gazing dream, yogi lifestyle, live music rocking han sessions, fry hot heat loving, mediation haven, kind of place. Mazunte is a small beach town on the Pacific coast of Mexico which is in the Southern part of Mexico. Its famous for a gorgeous place to relax, the turtles and, fishing.

Here, I started my journey with my love for Yoga and for the purpose of connecting my mind with my body through being present. After such a long time of traveling I felt like my body had been pushed to the side. In Argentina it was all meat and potatoes and in Chile it was fish and more meat and potatoes. Being a vegetarian it was difficult sometimes to find healthy food to eat and just let myself eat what was convienant. This past month and teach training really has transformed the way that I look at food, my body, and my relationship to time.

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Here is the meditation shala where we woke up everyday 6am for hour mediation with a constant soundtrack of roosters and ocean waves. The other is of us practicing partner yoga.

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The course was held at Om Shanti Yogashala that is apart of a hostel and there is another community Om Shanti Community nearby where we all slept and cooked food together. The same community also helps run a resteraunt “Prasad”, a vegetarian that is next to the Yogashala. It is a lot of work, but its a nice network the three places and people working and coming in and out of these spaces.

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Here is a little bit of what our schedule was everyday:

5:30 am Wake up

6:00 am – 7:15 am Meditation

7: 15-8:00 am Pranayama (breathing exercises) for 1 hour (every other day)

8:00-9:00am Communal breakfast

9:00-11:30 am Open to the public yoga class

11:30-1:30 pm Free time or Cooking if your team has to cook

1:30-5:00 pm Lunch and Free Time and Personal Study Practice

5:00-7:30 pm Classes that changed depending on the day

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The schedule was pretty laid back but after 1 month it was a lot, and depending on which day it was sometimes we were practicing 4-5 hours of yoga in one day. The town here is so hot sometimes 90-100 degrees F and for this its hard to stay motivated the whole day, especially when you wake up so early. BUT after getting into a routine I found that actually practicing the Yoga Asanas and Pranayama breathing I has sustaining energy and wouldn’t get tired.

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In the end we taught a final class and I feel so lucky to be apart of the whole process, what a gift!

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Also as an end to the course we had a community celebration with live music, face painting, yoga for children, free food and dancing. It was wonderful to see the community come together and really a nice goodbye and send off to the whole community.

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We had a weekend retreat with the Yoga Team at a place maybe 3 hours from Mazunte where there were endless rivers flowing, waterfalls, peace, and love. It was truly beautiful and the perfect get away to cleanse and soak in my transition from Chile to Mexico.

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At our community at Om Shanti we adopted a kitten just 2 weeks old and were fortunate to watch him grow up before our eyes. What a lover and what a treat it was to take care of such a beauty!

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Punta Cometa was a little pennunsula that sticks out from the shoreline and is considered a sacred place and the best place for watching sunrises and sunsets as both are posible to see from here. You can actually sun gaze staring at the sun 45 minutes to an hour before it sets and watching it change from bright white to magenta and fades away slowly beyond the horizon. Super powerful place. Not to mention it is an important stopping place for migratory birds and mammals like whales!

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The town was the most pefect place to do yoga, it was super challenging for me, but worth all the up and downs. It was great to get into a healthy routine and enjoy a different way of life. I now can teach a class and practice alone. It’s been worth all of it. Now off to the next journey! Heading south! I love Mexico!

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6 Points to Remember while Traveling.

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1.) Find out the Truth for yourself.

If a fellow traveler tells you about their experience visiting  a place, hostel, excursion, or something to do, take it with an open mind and filtered lens. You will only know the truth once you experience it for yourself. Too many times someone had told me so and so is a bad city there is nothing to do there, and then I go and discover it is one of my favourite places! Listen to them fully and then put your own rationality into it and find out the truth for yourself!

2.) Let go.

Let go of time, seasons, worry and fear. When you let go you are able to not think about the past and memories you once had. You will stop thinking about the future planning and organizing. You will find that when you let go of all, you fall into the present and there infinity exists because there is no longer time. When this happens everything will flow, people, places to stay, food to eat, everything will fall into place. Easier said than done, but just do it!

3.) Always Carry Toilet Paper, Always.

4.) Take up a new Talent.

You are never too young or too old to start something new or learn something new. From language to bracelet making, to guitar playing to cooking to traveling just do it! But its wonderful to pick a hobby/talent that you can easily do while traveling because there is so much down time. Waiting for buses, hanging out with down time because you are tired, or just laying hanging out on the beach, something accessible. Traveling makes you have time for these talents that in a “normal routine life” you may not have time for! Oh and it takes a little bit of commitment too but all is possible.

5.) Learn how to to Cook Healthy Local Food.

Travel with spices and food so that you have no excuse to cook healthy. Maybe a little curry, coriander, pepper flakes, mustard seeds, garlic and or favourite cooking ingredients. Healthy means good food for the body and for the mind, there is no excuse to be eating out all the time and not eating healthy when you travel. The local food also makes this exercise more fun because you can experiment.

I always try and cook local of course, which sometimes is hard in places that are hard to grow fruits and veggies but local is the most important. There are always bug convenient supermarkets that have everything you could possibly want in one place, but many of these stores put small shops that are run by local families out of business. So I would encourage travelers to get comfortable knocking on their neighbors gate and asking if they sell cheese or who does, so that they buy straight from the people and not from the big stores!

6.) Hitchhike

You can learn a new language and interact with local people. Hitchhiking provides a free way to travel and a cultural experience as well. Go to gas stations and ask people by knocking on their windows. This way you can look into their eyes and decide if you want to get in the car. And you are more likely to get a ride by asking first and not just with your thumb. Say you don’t have the courage or you are traveling alone? No worries because many people will say no to you, so you will have a lot of practice and can learn patience and new people skills! My travels were much brighter because of Hitching.

Goodbye South America

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Today I started a new adventure. I left South America for a different America. No, not quite the States but I am in Mexico where I will receive a 300 hour yoga training course in a beautiful community and with my lovely friend Carolyn from California.

It makes me sad to leave so soon, even though its been over 15 months. The memories I’ve shared in each country have provided me with enough love, inspiration, hospitality, motivation and respect for a growth and appreciation.

I can’t stress enough how precious life truly is. How important family is and how simple life can be. Somewhere along the way we’ve complicated things by comparing and contrasting, by working too hard or by going to fast. I do it too, thinking I need things when they complicate thins or I don’t need them. There is happiness in simplicity and there is value in being present and being nice to everyone you meet.

The way the people of South America have treated me is as if I was one of their family members. Open arms, open house, and so willing to go out of their way to help me.

Many have taught me that every person matters and every person you meet can be a chance to learn something. You can turn someone’s day around just by asking their name and smiling. It’s incredible how human connection really can connect as one. However we must open our hearts and mind to it.

Thank you South America, this definitely is not the last time I say goodbye! I guess I have to change the address of my blog name huh?