Author Archive

Playing the victim

playing the victim

I was having a conversation with a friend awhile back about how a workplace situation was causing some issues and what to do about it. While I was talking over a particular point, he turned to me suddenly and said “you’re playing the victim”.

I was taken aback for a moment, immediately angered. Our conversation ended soon after and we said our goodbyes, but over the next few days I thought about his statement, going over whether I was just bitching and moaning or I had a legitimate concern. Of course I thought (and still maintain) the latter, but my mind just kept on wandering, about where the line is.

We, in our life have choices, and the most important choices we make is how we respond to others. In part, this piece is a continuation of the theme I explored in a painting I finished awhile ago entitled “The Misinterpretation of Silence and it’s Disastrous Consequences”

Group show – reception tonight

I am in a group show called ‘Plus One’ that opens tonight at 580 Hayes Street in San Francisco.

Facebook invite:



Golden: WTF? Part 2

It should be known that the folks over at Golden reached out to me and said the caps are a known issue and you can contact the company for refunds:


“Yes – we had an issue with the cap caused by a supplier reformulating the plastic. We have remedied that problem and offer replacements for all customers who experience this problem (generally with tubes more than a couple years old). Please, call our customer service team for assistance: 800-959-6543 or 607-847-6154.”


Now I’m even a bigger Golden fan. More companies can learn from them.

Golden: WTF?

Or, as they say in my favorite syndicated comedy, What the Shit?

Apparently the plastic is weaker than the paint… Which, in some ways is a good thing, no?

golden 1

golden 2

In case you don’t get the two above pictures, that is the top part of the cap broken off, the white part on the neck of the tube is the other half. Notice the dried cylinder of paint that has resulted from the shape of the cap.

Here’s one more for you:

golden 3

Anyone want a half dried tube of Naphthol Red Medium acrylic paint?

The things we carry, part 2

I know of someone who is currently writing a memoir and experiencing a bit of difficulty. Apparently in doing so, he has brought up memories of heavy abuse at the hands of his father, resulting in suicidal thoughts.

We as people carry physical objects throughout our life, but we also carry internal things. Thoughts, ambitions, goals, feelings, emotions, motivations, and obstacles that all weave themselves into our psyche making us who we are.

Our internal struggles that end up moving us in a direction is not unlike that of an onion, we can peel back the layers of emotion and thought to analyze what we have done and why. What has resulted in determination and perseverance sometimes can be better defined as cognitive dissonance.

My onion is layers of paint on a canvas. I dig through them to make sense of anything, for some semblance of a cohesive thought that can produce meaning. As I dig further down, I have to be careful not to tear the last layer and the canvas itself gives way, tearing the foundation.

I can’t help but hear Covenant’s “Tour De Force” in my head: Take you down… I wanna take you down with me….

So I was reading Dogpoet and thinking about suicide from a lot of different angles. It is easy enough to see several suicide references in some of my work, though it was never enough to actually make someone ask about it. Maybe by putting it ‘out there’, I have silenced such inquiries, or maybe they are just too afraid to ask. But I know this is another thing I carry. It is my mission to produce work that evokes powerful emotion and thought. To make the internal external.

When we hear that someone has committed suicide there are always statements of evaluation that immediately follow. ‘He had so much to live for’, ‘She was so pretty’, and my ever favorite ‘Why didn’t they talk to someone… they could have talked to me!’ Never before have we been so pompous to expect our wisdom to be the torch that lights the darkness, let alone their ability to trust us.

I can remember nights thinking what it would be like to be a ghost. What an appropriate fate to linger in the minds of those who knew me as that ‘odd painter with the mustache’ . Though no one would tell that many stories of me, and certainly not after twenty years or so. Time, like a flame, would consume every painting I have ever unleashed on the world and my tales, like my life, would be a wisp of smoke.

Now Covenant’s “Flux” plays in my head: forgotten as the ages grow, eternity is not for you.

But that is all it will ever be anyway; you will be forgotten. I am okay with this fact, even when it rears it’s ugly head around in the late night sessions stepping into the shadow.

My process of adding and peeling off layers of paint on emotions buried on a canvas to get a feeling right, over days, weeks, months, or even years, can be an arduous and often tumultuous process, but it’s necessary for me to create. It is like continually pulling scabs off of healing wounds to disinfect the site so it heals right. And I know that when the piece is finished in it’s perfection, there won’t even be a scar. The thing I carried for so long is put down.

Hopefully my paintings can turn a few heads and make a couple more people think about the things they carry.

The things we carry

I recently sold a number of old items on Ebay. Now that most of the auctions are done and I’ve shipped off the boxes, the feeling is like nothing else. Well, almost.

I remember when I felt this way last. It was some four years ago when I sold my car. It was the one biggest item I have ever owned and most expensive. At first I thought I would never be able to get along without it, but now I look back and laugh. Let alone the mere cost, upkeep, parking tickets, insurance… The bigger problem was that it was just something else on my mind, something else to worry about. Just like my car, these old objects aren’t around me anymore, getting in the way of my thoughts and actions. Toys I haven’t played with in years? Gone. Old video games that barely work? Gone. Other things I haven’t touched in years? Please.

One of my friends pleaded with me to keep all these things. “How cool will it be when you look on these things years from now?” My answer? “Not nearly as cool when I look at my clean apartment today.” More importantly, theses things aren’t cluttering my mind anymore. And let’s face it: I’ll be 35 this year. Am I going to wait another 15 years until I’m 50 to finally get a good price on my comic book collection? Pfft, half of the shit I offloaded isn’t even worth anything any more. My Nintendo won’t be worth another dime in five years, Prolly less. And I’d rather have the money now.

The thing is, we can have the best of both worlds. As we age, we learn the ability to compartmentalize. Sometimes this has a negative effect, but if done right, it’s a quite useful skill. I can get older without growing up. I can still be a big kid with a bunch of toys around. But they lurk only in certain places, physically and mentally.

Still so many of us carry these objects through our life, objects that have little or no value. I’m not talking about a hobby or that rocking chair your mom gave you. That shit is great, and if it brings you joy, by all means, keep it, but USE it. We don’t need to hang on to every little piece of everything. Have some faith in your memories — they are already skewed in your favor anyways.

Runaway Train

I was painting and on my ipod came Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train”. I remember this song came out when I was a formidable teen and the accompanying video, which they would have different versions of displaying children who have “lost their way”:

I always thought the idea of running away was really bad. I mean, no matter how much I hated my parents, (which for the record I didn’t so I’m kinda talking outta my ass here) I knew I had it good there, and whatever I hated I could escape when I got older. But then again, no one was beating the shit out of me.

I commend their effort, but it was really ironic to learn that the video placed a number of teens back into situations that were not so good for them. i.e. an abusive family situation:

Dan Murphy talks Runaway Train video

A humble reminder that even the most altruistic actions can result in the opposite.

Tonka fixes the table

This required a little more elbow grease:

fix table

Tonka fixes the lamp

Gorilla glue FTW!


Let there be Light!

Last week I came upon a surprise in the studio:

broke lamp

This. is. not. good.

Sitting on the doctor office blue drop cloth is a broken concrete-stone weight. This is the base of a lamp that has come apart, most likely do to all the water I spill in the studio – purposely and not – that provides a strong weight to the base to keep the lamp standing.

I love this lamp. Not only is it four bright halogen bulbs that provide some kick ass painting light, but some much needed heat in a very cold studio. The lamp will fall over once I move the broken concrete-stone weight.

More importantly, and quite unexpected, is that I felt a small form of loss as Tonka gave me this lamp. I know it’s a little weird, but in a way it is like having a piece of him there.

Now, I’m first to admit I put a lot of attachment into certain objects, as we all do, but I’m getting better at it. After all, it is just a lamp. I actually put a bunch of childhood toys on Ebay over the past few months, with the last batch going up this past week. It is a cleansing like nothing else. Soon my goal of just essentials around me (along with a shitload of canvases) will be realized.

But now I need a new lamp.

No on 15!

So Chris Culliver, number 15 on the San Francisco 49ers, came out against gays during an interview with Artie Lange saying the following:

“Nah, I don’t do the gay guys, man … I don’t do that,” said Culliver.

Lange then asked if there were any homosexual players were on the 49ers.

“No, we don’t got no gay people on the team,” said Culliver. “They gotta get up out of here if they do.”

“Can’t be with that sweet stuff,” continued Culliver. “Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”


To top it off, Mr. Culliver will most likely never see any repercussions on his statement. A statement released by the 49er’s offers a half ass apology.

What’s really awful about this is that we continually placate bigoted assholes and hold them to a lower standard. Whether it’s Garrison Hearst or Tracy Morgan, they get away with saying the most vile things against homosexuals.

Why is this? Just because this guy is going to the Superbowl? Does that supersede any measure of decency? If I had it my way, he would be suspended from the game, as well as the team. That is the only way to teach bigots a lesson. It’s sad enough that Michal Vic is still allowed to play after his dog fighting scandal.

Why do they get away with this? In my job, I would have been crucified if I said half the things they have said. Why is this different from Michael Richards going off on African Americans? His career was shattered after that. Why is this tolerated by the 49ers? Better yet, the NFL as a whole?

Can you imagine the amount of gay kids that look up to players and then they hear this? President Obama himself came out against bullying and made an It gets better video.

I dare, just one big corporate sponsor to pull out of the Superbowl. Send a message where it really hurts. Not to mention it would easily be the best way to show your solidarity to the LGBT community.


I guess the pressure was on, because on 1.31.13 the LGBT community received an apology… kind of:

In his apology, Chris Culliver says “The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel,”


What the fuck does that mean? Thoughts in my head but not how I feel? Are you fucking serious? I think Mr. Culliver is still mixed up, so I will explain it to him and all of us right here, right now.

What you thought is that you hate gays. What you feel is that you hate gays. 

What you are thinking in your head now, goes something along the lines of ‘Shit, I fucked up and created a big ol mess in the best gig I have ever had. Many people yelled at me, and now I have to do something about it… so I’m really sorry I fucked up… so um, yeah, it was just my thoughts and not my feelings…’

Give me a break.

A lot of people are throwing around the ‘in the closet’ card. Now there’s a lot of truth in that those who are first to object are usually those that want the dick, but I dismissed the theory at first. After further consideration I have to admit I am starting to reconsider; especially after this photo of the assailant surfaced:

Now, I’ve seen enough online profiles (believe me…) to know there is just something up with this picture. It’s indescribable as to how gaydar works (the scientist are still trying to figure it out), but my bells are ringing!

Maybe it’s just the pink bracelet.

Diseased or burnt?

One of my artist friends said my recent works, three pieces in particular, look like burnt flesh.

Images 2, 3, and 4 located here

Tonka said diseased.

What do you think?

Lesson #242: How to patch canvas (or how I spent last Monday night)

So every once in awhile, I get a little overzealous, and um… ‘damage’ a canvas. Usually in the form of a rip. Considering prestretched canvas is expensive, (especially because I don’t have the time, energy, or gumption to stretch my own) I formulated a way to repair it.

Here is my most recent victim:

ripped canvas

To patch your canvas, you will need the following (most likely you have these already):

  1. Acrylic medium
  2. Acrylic paint (I’m using black)
  3. Raw canvas
  4. A brush
  5. A palette knife
  6. Paper
  7. Several large books (or something very heavy)
  8. A drop cloth – this is optional, you can use more of the raw canvas as well.
  9. Beer (Any German pilsner or wheat will do)
  10. Bottle opener
  11. The ripped canvas

acrylic mediumacrylic paint

This is a pretty fast process, so you only need a couple minutes.

  1. Open the beer. Drink.
  2. Brush some acrylic medium on the rip of the damaged canvas. be sure to cover all edges, putting any threads that have separated from the canvas back in line. As you do this, you will notice the thickness of the medium starts to create a bond. Do this first on the back of the canvas, then the front. Smooth out any large deposits of medium that seep though on the front to maintain a smooth finish.

    medium on backmedium on front

  3. With the palette knife, place some paint on the back of the canvas. Be generous.

    paint on knifepaint on back

  4. Cut a piece of raw canvas just bigger than the area to be patched. Place this on the back of the canvas right on top of the paint.

    raw canvaspatch applied

  5. With your palette knife, place some paint on the small piece of canvas and smooth it out. You will feel the paint underneath moving a bit. This is okay, but try to keep the patch as still as possible.

    paint on patch

  6. Drink some beer.
  7. You should notice that the paint is more or less keeping things together now. If not, use more paint. You should be able to tilt the canvas now and examine the front. Carefully smooth out any large deposits that have come through the rip. Optionally, you can brush on more paint if you wish to to ‘seal’ the rip on the front. Do this fairly quickly as not to risk the integrity of the canvas recently applied to the back.

    paint bleeding throughpaint smoothed out

  8. Flip your canvas back over and place some paper on the patch (note to protect your floor with a drop cloth or some raw canvas).

    paper on patch

  9. Make sure your canvas is level and place the books or heavy object on the paper. Make sure you have significant weight on the canvas part itself and not the stretcher bars. Also make sure you aren’t tweaking the stretched canvas elsewhere with the weight. Notice my doctor’s office blue drop cloth.

    heavy object

  10. Finish your beer
  11. Go dancing at Deathguild

Let the above dry over night. Depending on temperatures and humidity, the patch should now be dry enough to pick up the canvas. Do this very carefully as some paint may have seeped through, adhering the canvas to the drop cloth, but should still be pliable as not to cause an issue. This will give you some time to examine the front of the piece and make any minor adjustments. If you do have any unsightly deposits of paint, you can smooth them out (very carefully) with your palette knife. Remember, the patch is not fully dry yet! You will see a ‘scar’, but don’t worry about perfection yet. Set it out to dry fully.

This is what the finished patch will look like. Notice the ‘scar’ detail. You can now slather on a bunch of paint to hide it, or use it as an effect in your composition. I took the picture with a flash to highlight the texture:


Good as new!

Lesson #241

Painters tape will gladly relieve you of India ink recently ‘dried’ on canvas.


india ink

i have exactly seven keys on my key ring.

My kitchen is literally a storage area for paintings:

Cute bunny rabbits

So I’m back in the studio painting cute bunny rabbits.

Open studios has come and gone, and now my studio is totally cleaned out. Totally. New drop cloths. It’s this sterile doctor office blue drop cloth now.

So as I began to put some details on Mr. Cute Bunny Rabbit no1, I started to outline this great eye detail, Just where the fur meets. Tori Amos‘s version of Slayer‘s “Raining Blood” is playing. And I flick the brush over the canvas, get more water, flick, switch brushes, paint, paint, then some more water and now some more white. No, water. Get some more wat — splash!

And that is how, my friends, you test the water capacity of the new doctor office blue drop cloth.

He did it all for you

This piece was originally entitled “A son to a father”.  I decided against this title because I didn’t want my peers to think it was about me and my father.

This idea started festering when I met other men in the workforce who had young sons. They would talk about them, and it didn’t take me long to realize what they were doing wrong. It wasn’t my place to say, and on the occasion where I dropped subtle hints, I was always dismissed as a young artsy type with a goofy moustache that didn’t know anything. I contend they were afraid of the truth.

When you loose a parent, you develop a new understanding as you link up events in your head in reflection on their life. Unfortunately this happens after the fact, and was never seen as an asset in my wisdom.

Another interesting aspect is the fact that some of these men were more or less talked into having kids from their spouse. To clarify – a lot of parents truly want to have children and plan accordingly. Most of us have a strong drive to reproduce, as it’s built into our genetic makeup (a drive I fortunately did not receive), but sometimes this drive is paired up with inappropriate timing or other obstacle. So in many situations the male doesn’t want the added responsibility, at least just yet. And it takes about a whole three seconds to realize where a parent fits on this spectrum when you see them in Safeway. After all, no one knows how to be a parent, they just (hopefully) do the best they can when the time comes.

When men have a son, a whole new dimension opens up and a sense of pride is developed. It’s almost a god complex when they consider they made what will become a man in their own image.

To some, that child represents an unconditional love that will most likely morph into a love-hate relationship as adolescence sets in. And parents know this. You get caught in a catch 22; if the child is the same sex as you, you know what they are in for and it’s terrifying to watch. If they are the opposite sex, you ultimately will never fully understand them.
But I digress.

So the men that originally got my gears turning were very good at getting up everyday and going to work, to provide and build a good home life. But I always wondered, when I met these children, what they were really providing for the child, emotionally and spiritually. The family I feel sorry for the most involves the father who insinuated he was waiting until his boys were a bit older so he could really bond with them.

I wasn’t able to communicate to him just how detrimental his process was.

A diary of sorts…

Everyone knows that painting is a diary of sorts, and it is no surprise to be reminded of this as I start to refactor the galleries on my site.

I never know exactly how to display my work as many pieces have little or no relation to another while others do (some are series spanning years), not to mention the differences in style I jump between. Chronological order just seems the best way to conquer this beast.

What I wasn’t prepared for is the the way my analytic mind gave into the emotions of pieces ordered throughout the years. Not that these are unresolved, but when I think of a piece, I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I started it, as well as when I finished it. Not only physically, but also mentally. Upon thinking about or sometimes handling a piece, I am transported to the time and space of wading through the ego or stepping into the shadow. Looking at the whole, I can recognize large sets of time correlated with events that produced a specific kind of work, and other time/event combinations where I was complacent and the reasons why. It is not so much that one understands things better in reflection, but that one cannot fully understand things while working through them.

The daunting task before me is leveraging this knowledge to try and further understand the why’s and how’s in the big picture of my work as a whole, as a reflection of life. Any creative outlet is, as is life, an experiment.

Don’t stand in the shadow of my hammer





I performed major surgery on a painting last night. It was hard, you never know how it’s going to go and to top it off, this was the ‘non reversible’ kind. It is so easy to ruin a piece if you are not careful, but you get to the point where it isn’t working and impossible to do nothing.

This wasn’t as hard as what came next.

I have a small pile of canvases that have initial compositions sketched on them; the ideas are well formed, but not 100% ‘there’. I have to force myself on a (semi) regular basis to do housekeeping and go through said pile.

Last night I pulled out a piece that I started years ago and really thought would evolve into a great work. As I studied it for the millionth time, I realized I had to say goodbye to this old friend. It was very painful but I knew it had to be done. Artists are made from ideas and our work is an extension of them. When a piece doesn’t work and needs to be put down, there is this weird feeling of loss that you have to come to terms with.

So as Depeche Mode (classic, right?) rang out at ear splitting volume I white washed the idea I had so many years ago and tried so many times to make work. I really thought this one would ‘go somewhere’ but now it is apparent where that somewhere is — a 180 from where it was.


I was in Miranda Hobbes‘ (yes of Sex in the City) house and there was this big party going down. Paintings of my friend Mark were up on this high shelf and people were inquiring about them. Before long we all were sitting having cocktails and suddenly, Rose, this girl I dated in high school (yes, I dated a girl!), sits down beside me and says hi. I kept poking her in the shoulder to see if she was real; it was so vivid. She started talking about where life had taken her, and I started to point out the successes I have had, but thought better of it and just kept poking her shoulder. I just kept thinking, ‘How can you be sitting here? You died years ago in a car crash’.

Just as that thought bounced around my mind, a large brigade of fire dancers walked through the crowd, not unlike when I saw Pigface perform in San Jose years ago. And before I knew it, I was in a parking lot with Rose, on a mission to secure cookies from Wegman’s (a Rochester based supermarket chain). She mentioned that she still had her discount from working there so we hoofed it to the door past a pissy security guard, who was surprisingly rather young.

Once in the store, she pocketed a cookie as her ‘discount’ allowed her to have a free one, and we took the other up to the register, which we were to have a small discount on as well. We paid for it and the girl at the cash register nonchalantly says ‘Here’s your cookie, and now I have to arrest you’. We were dumbfounded and Rose immediately started in with ‘why?’ The cashier responded that they have been through this several times, and just like last time, she had to arrest her (presumably for the pocketed freebie).

I poked Rose again and said, “You know, dead people can’t be arrested.” She looked down in that way she always did when she realized a truth that would rather stay unknown. The cashier then turns to me and says ‘Well, then, you would be responsible.’

My eyes caught with Rose’s and it was clear that we had to run. Out of Wegman’s in a blur the security guard screamed at us. I recall he had a gun, though no shots were fired. As sirens wailed in the distance coming for us, we just about made it to the car and stopped for a pause. Thinking of what to do next it was suddenly clear: Wake up.

– – –

Rose was one of the few friends I had in High School. We went on a couple of those dates that you go on when you are fifteen or so and trying to figure out how the game works. I pretty much knew I was gay at the time, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Even though we hung out a bit in college, we soon lost contact when I went to to California, Rose to Arizona or New Mexico (I don’t recall which). She had this fun ‘alternative’ spunk to her and while we weren’t really close, we had a commonality in music as well as alternative lifestyles (she dated girls for a spell, though it’s unknown to me of her exact orientation). I remember she shaved her head once and as it was growing back, she dyed it bright green. My mom forever associated her with ‘the girl that showed up with green hair’ at my front door, though she liked her.

It is almost eight years since Rose was in a fatal car crash. I don’t really know the specifics, but I remember my friend Colleen contacting me with the news. I felt weird reminiscing about days of adolescence with my friend. It’s not that I had any regrets of not staying in contact or the like, I mean, people often come and go throughout your life, but you just get this weird feeling. I may be wrong, but I think Rose was studying to be a psychiatrist, and I think she would have been successful at that.

My dreams are always vivid, and as such, I woke up rather spooked today. It is comical at times, I can wake up furious at someone because of what they did in a dream and the emotion can linger hours afterward. I know it’s totally irrational, and I’ve learned to control these feelings, but I’m sure Rose will be haunting me today; just like the day I heard of her passing. It seems rather fitting heading to Deathguild tonight to dance as she wanders through my mind.

endless nameless

It is estimated on this day, 18 years ago, Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain took his life with a shotgun.
(Note: any comments on this post that go on about conspiracy/murder theories will be deleted)

Like many other generation X’ers, I felt a certain kinship when listening to his music. He was our enigmatic musical demigod; sensitive, angry, and full of angst at the same time. He was our Morrison, our Hendrix, our Elvis. More importantly, he was the first public figure that spoke to us in our language.

Musically, we were fed manufactured corporate rock, further disillusioned by the political and social climate as we ventured into the mid and late 80’s. We knew something was amiss as our parents were getting divorced and sprawling suburbia’s we were raised in became playgrounds of boredom and mediocrity. The happy days of the 60’s and 70’s had worn thin and if you were anything like me, you grew up within a stronghold of angst and alienation. Nirvana, fueled by Kurt’s lyrics was an outlet to voice our frustration beyond our bedrooms.

So I downloaded Nirvana’s “From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah” recently.  Yeah, I know I’m late on this one, but I’m usually not a fan of live albums. The levels are always askew and they do a bad job of capturing the true energy of a group. Any one who knows me, knows I love going to live shows and do so often. That’s where I’d rather spend my money. I actually had the privilege of seeing Nirvana live when I was teenager. I remember an enthralling concert that left me buzzing for days later.

So, yeah, I finally got it. Some performances are a bit uninspired such as Breed and Smells like Teen Spirit (You know they HAD to play that).  But the tunes SchoolAneurysm, along with Drain You and Sliver blew me away! Absolute classics in the Nirvana catalog.

It is amazing to hear these guys again. I’m in a whirl when I hear “Grandma take me home.. I wanna be alooooooooone…..”

I am actually very happy that I waited so long to grab this one. It just would not have rang as true if I bought it right away. Good to know that years later I can put this on and magically be transported back to when I was listening to these tunes for the first time, so long ago, with all the love and hate and angst. True genius stands the test of time, and nothing sums up how we felt (and still do) than this line: “you’re in high school again“.

Aren’t we all? Brilliant.

Conversations with Tonka ..::2::..

Better than a rowboat to China: