So, my coloring book/ life story published by Regan Arts, Yes, Transform Your Life With Color By Number came out on, November 8, 2016, election day and it did not end up a happy day, needless to say. In it one of the first images to color, based on a commissioned painting of mine (which was originally based on a rare vintage paint by number from the 50s) was What Kind of World Do You Want? I went on a mini book tour (sponsored by Design Within Reach) that started in New York, continued in Miami for Art Basel, L.A. & then Austin, Texas. Twyla.com is a new artist platform that offer 4 large scale prints of mine, and when visiting their headquarters in Austin, I met their new “Artist Relations” person, Ariel Salvidar. That meeting planted a seed for an important question to take root…
Fast forward to a brand new year, and What Kind of World Do You Want? had become my 2017 theme, so when my curator from Twyla’s Heidi Lee-Komaromi called to ask if I wanted to create a mural for the upcoming Art Wynwood fair in Miami, that image was the first thing that popped into my head. (It was also part of World of Wonder‘s Holiday gift this year. They kindly sent out 1400 copies of my book to Wowlebrities along with cards and markers, and also included it in a new digital version in their exhibit, Surviving Trump: The Art of Resistance at the WOW gallery in Hollywood, two days before the inauguration)
So, two weeks ago I found myself in Miami at Art Wynwood with a fun crew from Twyla and my long-time assistant, Amy Paschall, painting a 16 foot mural of the image, LIVE. Twyla created a limited edition print and and offered it to fair-goers giving part of the proceeds to The Trevor Project which supports LGBT at risk youth. We had an amazing location right at the entrance, and the response over the 5 day fair was overwhelmingly positive. People were there to look at art, but when they were offered the opportunity to paint with us, they were really excited. I’ve done this live painting before with for kids at The New Museum in New York, just before First Lady Michelle Obama arrived to sign my Drink Up mural, in support of her Partnership for a Healthy America. I created another for Squarespace at the Newport Folk Festival in 2014, and over 500 concert-goers helped paint All Over This Land in an installation in Fort Adams over 3 days.
This fair and mural was timed to President’s Weekend, so the question after just a month of Trump being in office hit home especially hard. We also created action cards for people to answer the question, adding a crucial follow-up;
What Kind of World Do You Want?
What Will You Do To Get it?
THAT second part of the question was the sticking point after reading many of their cards. The first part is easy if all that’s required is a wish, but once you put yourself in the equation, the action is the tough part. I’m not saying I aced it either. Myself, along with Amy and the Twyla team; Ariel, Heidi, William Carson, Nick Nadeau, Cornelia Clay and Emilé all talked to people for hours and hours over 5 days and got all sorts of responses that informed our experience. William noted,
“Asking people the question, led to discussions of religion, immigration, race, geography, politics, philosophy, and everything in between.”
So, that’s what WE did President’s weekend. I made the mural, thanks to the help of lots of folks and the generosity of Twyla. We got lots of press too. At one pint there were 3 camera crews in the booth! I met all sorts of people over the course of the weekend. Like artist, Cey Adams the original creative director of Def Jam, who was showing at the fair too. Artist Shepard Fairey stopped by the booth and we chatted about how we first met. (I had to remind him, as he didn’t remember… I created a Hope painting for Art for Obama in ’08 and also was part of Manifest Equality in L.A. which he helped judge.) He was being honored for Lifetime Achievement, something he was happy about but he questioned it’s timing, seeing as he is in his mid-40s.
I still struggle with the question on a daily basis. What can I constructively do to create that better world that I want? But that’s what art can do –prod us to ask questions we don’t know the answers to…