I am so grateful to my long time friends, Ian Taylor and Pete Boland, for commissioning me to paint the facade of their new maritime-themed bar and restaurant, The Galley. Located above their entrance on Fourth Street between Central and First Avenue North, working here felt like a right of passage. I received tons of exposure and great support mixed with a few challenges. The painting begins fifteen feet in the air, so, before these generous guys rented a scissorlift, I spent a lot of time going up and down the ladder. Painting in the heart of downtown, on one of its busiest streets, was extremely stimulating, to say the least, and I had the opportunity to connect with other artists and police officers and city workers and all manner of passersby every time I stepped onto the worksite. What a privilege to be there during the earliest stages of renovations and business. And to top it all off, I got to explore an awesome struggle: human effort and logic versus the natural and metaphysical worlds. So rewarding!
My amiga, Blakely Stein, gave me a prompt for a mural to liven up their beautiful rental space in Pavones, Costa Rica. She hoped to evoke Peace, Protection, and Prosperity. She added a little endnote on the predominance of water. The space was already gorgeous: a circular, open air, thatched roof dining area in the center of their rental living spaces, overlooking the pool and gardens. The building is painted in subtle colors and has very pleasing architecture. In this piece I hoped to speak to the themes she laid out, while I simultaneously tried not to overwhelm an already beautiful space and introduce a little lightheartedness and openness. Water frames the center opening, plants run up the next two divisions, and the uppermost sectors are filled with animal coverings: feathers on one side and scales on another. The lower portion — I call it the mountain, Blakely’s husband, Joe, calls it the circus tent, their babysitter, Aurelia, calls it the octopus — is fed by and also distills into one swirling water droplet floating above (not visible in this photo). Water is life and life is water and water is fun! To life! To water! To love and friendship!
This piece adorns the door of a Guatemalan arts and crafts gallery in the warehouse district of St Petersburg, FL, named “From Mayan Hands”. They’re on 20th Street and 2nd Ave S. A large mural out front depicts a scene from Guatemalan lore of the god of the underworld chasing down his demons to keep them in check. Look for the Day of the Dead skeletons. And then go to the back, where the front door is located, if you’d like to see this painting in person 🙂
The door references Mayan mysticism along with Catholicism, forces of nature and the Central American landscape. I’ll break it down a bit:
The Virgin, historically in Central America, has come to embody not just the mother of Christ, but the goddess in her own right. When natives took her into their mythology, her appearance changed from a woman of European origin (she should be Semitic anyways, right?) to a woman of mestizo or even native Central American lineage. The Virgin in this painting directly references highland Guatemalan women.
The Serpent is a creator god in Mayan myth, who travels across the night sky and births gods and worlds from his jaws, among other interpretations. Many other cultures revere the serpent as a creator as well, and the images of entwined snakes are found worldwide, from European to the American to Hindu to Austro-Indonesian cultures. Some say snakes represent feminine power or mystique, others propose that ancient peoples saw DNA double helices in the intertwining bodies, through vision quests of various forms, thus clueing in to the source of life long before modern scientific discoveries. The Virgin both upholds the Serpent and is born out of the winds of his breath, past giving birth to the future and future embracing the past.
The ocean currents and waves are born of the serpent’s breath, and intertwine with one another and themselves in an endless ebb and flow. Volcanoes rise out of the sea, bringing both destruction and creation. Central America, more so than the relatively stable mass of North America, is governed by these powerful forces of land and sea, a tiny, very seismically active strip of land separating the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
This piece comes from my soul and my love of Central America. Thanks, “From Mayan Hands”, for the opportunity to explore these ideas.
Time flies when you’re running a yoga farm. Didn’t get a chance to update photos of this project until just now! (8 months later…)
I am so very grateful for the opportunity to add a bit of myself, a bit of nature, a bit of produce, and a lot of color to the warehouse district in my home town! The process was so incredibly rewarding, people were so kind to me, and I got to spend two months outside with chalk and paintbrushes and rollers and color. I can’t wait to see how the building and the neighborhood develops as more and more artists and entrepreneurs take interest in the warehouse district. Thanks to John Farese, the building owner, for everything!!!
I am a little bummed at recent electrical box replacements because this was one of my favorite parts of the piece:
But, all in all, I’m in love with the way the warehouse wetland came together.
These were the originals of a short-lived but fun photo copy and wheat pasting public art campaign.