Back in San Jose

After an amazing 3 months in Aotearoa, we are back in the US getting ready for some huge life changes!

I’m so thankful for the time back home, I really needed it. During the madness of 2020, the pandemic, the US elections and subsequent insurrection I was getting really homesick. The relative stability of Aotearoa was looking great and I was really missing my friends and family in a major way.

So many people have had their way of life challenged over the past 15 months including how they make their money. As an artist that mostly lives from travelling and painting large outdoor mural work, 2020 was a wash for the most part. After a decade where it’s likely more large murals have been painted than any other time in human history, Covid-19 definitely threw on the brakes. In retrospect, I count myself as really lucky - I was able to paint 4 murals back home in early June 2020 after we came out of our first lock down and the money from those helped me reunite with my wife in San Jose and created a base for us to survive through until December. Making small works on paper and releasing one edition of prints also carried us over. I also took on some administrative and logistics work for my friends projects back home which was actually fun and manageable from here.

Our life is way more affordable in California than it was in New York and although there was a lot of uncertainty through 2020 in retrospect we’ve fared pretty well. The lack of travel allowed us to bring attention back to our own wellbeing, allowing more time for cooking at home and consistent exercise, an unexpected silver lining to it all. As I’ve mentioned earlier my wife realised she was pregnant in early February, just before we head back to Aotearoa which totally turned our world upside-down (in a great way). It really motivated me to work super hard and make the most of the opportunity to work while I could.

From the time we got out of Managed Isolation right up until 30 minutes before boarding the plane back to the US I worked feverishly on a wide range of projects. Here’s some highlights from that time.

This is the companion wall to the Empathy one, it reads Insight. Queensgate Mall had us come back to do this second piece a few weeks after the festival. Both walls originally featured murals by Jonny 4Higher, Elliot Francis Stewart and I that we painted 16 years ago.
I painted this enormous canvas for the University of Auckland’s Social Work degree at their education campus. It’s for an ad campaign coming out soon.
This could be my favourite mural I’ve ever painted - It reads Innovate and was painted at Ara Institute of Canterbury in Ōtautahi. Huge thanks to Nathan Ingram for coordinating this one. Had some insane weather conditions to work through but it was 100 percent worth the struggle!

Jasmine and I had our opening for our collaborative show Continuum at Fiksate Gallery while down in Ōtautahi. It went really well, a great turn out, a few sales and we produced a body of work we are really proud of. Such a cool thing to do together - Jasmine is such a talented creative and always works at such a high level no matter what she’s doing, from her fashion design to personal photography projects to this body of work she always has confidence and vision. It was great to pull back a little bit and allow her to lead this creatively, focussing more on the technical side of things and turning this concept into something material. I spoke a lot about the process and all our collaborators in this earlier post. You can view the entire catalogue here. There’s still some paintings and prints available.

This is the print we released for the exhibition. It’s a Giclee print with hand-pulled screen print detailing on 310gsm Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Jahra Wasasala and her partner Ooshcon Masseurs are really great friends I admire a lot. They have been insanely busy over the past year performing, creating and directing more shows and festivals than I can keep tabs on. One of these shows they created was Hypamass which they describe as ‘A Krump theatre dance work and investigation with the central idea to uncover the boy to recover the man.’ The show premiered at Mangere arts centre in Tāmaki Makaurau. Ooshcon really wanted to incorporate my recent 3D abstract formalism somehow into the stage design and came up with the idea to create a circular lino for them to dance on plus a movable backdrop wall. I designed and organised getting this 2.5m x 2.5m piece printed and managed to hand cut it into a pretty perfect circle!

Sadly the show premiered the evening we had to fly out and we didn’t get a chance to attend what sounds like was an incredible night. I’ll endeavour to get some photos from the performance to share soon. The intention is for this show to tour as well so there will be more chances for people that missed out to see it.

Last year I took on a bit of music video work for Sola Rosa including the For The Mighty Dollar video and the Something Good video (which featured Ooshcon Masseurs dancing). Sola Rosa have just released a remix EP featuring new versions of those songs. I created this glitched out video for the Something Good - High Hoops Flip using footage filmed by Gabby Dadgostar of Thandi Phoenix captured in Sydney last year.

So now we are back in San Jose, nesting and preparing for our baby to arrive in early October. I’m having conversations and seeing how the work situation is looking out here. In the mean time I’m back to making as many works on paper as I can. Here are 4 recent pieces Digilogue 12 -15 which are available on my online store.

One last thing - I’m currently working on an AR piece for an exciting show called Illuminate Adelaide that’s been curated by my good friend and crew mate Joel ‘Vans The Omega’ Moore. it launches on the 16th so I’m doing all the final reworks and testing right now and will hopefully have some videos and images to share soon!

Until next time, take care everyone!