Meditations on Transformational Muralmaking by SCAPE Martinez

Some recent meditations on a project I am working on...

I have learned over time that scale and location are becoming more and more important to me. It is not only about the image or it's message, it is more than that now. The size, the scope, the scale, all play a role in changing the sense of place, and in a way, the sense of self. How you relate or interact or receive a piece is intriguing to me.

Every element is a metaphor for something deeper
 Here are the tools to make wonderful music... for me everything can be a metaphor for something deeper.

Here are the tools to make wonderful music... for me everything can be a metaphor for something deeper.

From the very beginning we worked in a different manner. We interacted with the residents, (believe it or not, this is an apartment complex, you wouldn't know from driving by). We conducted art-making workshops, played with the kids, and shared food. We asked tons of questions, drew a lot of pictures and came up with many, many themes... I believe that it was transformational, and it will continue to be...

Projects like this build a stronger sense of community, because of the conversations that we create.
 Starting layer by layer, I approached the space in three layers, like three layers of skin, or layers of earth, both indicating a sense of time...

Starting layer by layer, I approached the space in three layers, like three layers of skin, or layers of earth, both indicating a sense of time...

When you show up, all the youth you worked with, and schemed with, and scribbled with, show up too. Asking questions... "Are you REALLY going to paint this? Are you Superman? Why paint here? Why us?".. because you are important, especially in this season in time.

When you create openly, and not in your art studio, there is a different sensibility that gets displayed, between the artist and the viewer.
 The narrow path, busy street, quite a different scenario than anything else that I've done...

The narrow path, busy street, quite a different scenario than anything else that I've done...

 And so it grows, surprisingly intricate in spaces, very, very much alive...

And so it grows, surprisingly intricate in spaces, very, very much alive...

I call it Transformational Muralmaking, because it is not just the artist imposing his will onto a public surface. It is far more layered and nuanced than that. We are transforming environments and young minds.
 As we rise...

As we rise...

If you see me, you should stop by and holla. I am a student in all of this as well, during every session I am learning more and more about myself, and the community that I am serving in, because essentially I feel this is an act of service.

 And to the right, here we go... the buff continues...

And to the right, here we go... the buff continues...

In the end after a few weeks of work, we got the lower layers completed, and now it's on the the second layer. This is a realization of a communities ideas, contributing to the cultural fabric, I am grateful to be the filter.

Red Can 2017 - "WAKANYEJA" by SCAPE Martinez

 My contribution to RED CAN 2017, painted on a 40 foot trailer.

My contribution to RED CAN 2017, painted on a 40 foot trailer.

Red Can 2017... an amazing three days of art, action, love, and community.

These words are just a snippet from my experience as a guest artist...

... as everyone drew and sketched their ideas, I didn't... I chose to read and throw some paint around... I doodled, as I explained to one of the kids, "I was trying to catch a flow",... something that I could capture, that had a deeper meaning for me. As the hours progressed to days, there was morning prayer, evening reflection, and deep introspection about the community, about the artists, about the youth, about the people. At a few points something moved my spirit... and moved me to tears, it was about depression, and suicide.

It was on me, for hours, I couldn't shake it. I was familiar with it, keenly familiar with those things,... and I wanted to do something against that... I wanted to do something that was life affirming, that was celebratory. It is the only way that I can phrase it... as it came to me, it just needed to be "AGAINST THAT".

I mulled it over in my head, and settled in on the fact that it was my purpose, my duty,  in some small way was to bring light to this conversation. I spoke to others.. "What do you think about this?"... "What do you suggest?"... "What word or phrase in Lakota culture affirms life?"... "How can I approach this delicately, with integrity, with conviction?"... the word that was given was "WAKANYEJA"... Google it.

I wanted to spark dialogue, I wanted to celebrate life, I wanted my work and presence to be a small voice to speak into that situation... the word "WAKANYEJA" has such a deep meaning, and truth to it, and I want anyone who sees this piece to reflect on it. Preserve it, as you ARE "the little sacred ones"...

 Left side angled view.

Left side angled view.

 Right angle view.

Right angle view.

 Detail view,... no need for anything extra...

Detail view,... no need for anything extra...

 This was the business, we came to give, and we gave till the wheels fell of... eternally grateful.

This was the business, we came to give, and we gave till the wheels fell of... eternally grateful.

Where the Magic Lives.... by SCAPE Martinez

 Listening to Jazz, while painting at night.

Listening to Jazz, while painting at night.

Creativity?.. what does it look like?...

It is less, of the question "what does it look like?", but more of recognizing where it isn't...

I often get asked questions about "art", "art education", the place where Graffiti fits in, etc... I usually make a stinky face, shrug my shoulders and talk about something else, because essentially, I don't really like talking about "Art". I like talking about Creativity, and how it manifests itself, through us, as people, through the universe, as nature, bringing light to dark, letting the unknown be revealed....

I know that this is a stickling point for some, I am one of those guys that believes that life is meant to be discovered, and not created... for some, that is heretical, words, coming from an "artist"... by the way, I use are quotations when I talk and write because I also feel that words get in the way, when I am trying to truly express my thoughts. 

So what does this have to do with the picture above?... arguably nothing, and yet everything. In this picture, I am painting on a large canvas, about 8 feet high, and about 20 feet wide, give or take. It has layers upon layers of an acrylic wash, in blue, which is symbolic in and of itself. And I am listening to Jazz, "Kind of Blue", and "Blue Train",... I am only working with blue spraypaint, and I am painting at night. I take my time, no rush, deliberate motions, stepping away to reflect and allow feelings and gestures to bubble up. What I am working towards, is a magic that happens,... those spaces of "discovery", where you can break away from what is known and begin to have a conversation with the unknown. In the end, I hope that I have created something beautiful, I hope, and in the end I hope that I have something that I can share, that is also beautiful. Maybe it's the visual "Art", maybe it's these words... maybe it's the shared experience?

I often think that my artwork is a visual representation of a deeper spiritual principle,... and that is something that I discover, as oppose to create. One can "see" the creation, but you you must walk in the discovery... if that makes any sense.

The Nocturne... by SCAPE Martinez

 I like to paint big, and I still like to paint at night.

I like to paint big, and I still like to paint at night.

... for as long as I can remember, I've had a fascination with the night. Like many kids, I am sure, I'd look at the night sky and try to figure out where the stars were aligned, so I could figure out the constellations, or just make up my own when I could locate the Big Dipper. On occasion I'd see a shooter star, and I was told that you should make a wish immediately after seeing one... I'd often wish to be an astronaut so I could catch said shooting star. Or maybe an astrologer, so I could discover a planet, or even a new star!... Staring at the night sky oddly enough allowed me to "see"... I could sit on our apartment front porch and look over the streetlights and there would be a little pocket in the sky where the city lights wouldn't interfere and I could actually see the stars. Or maybe I'd sneak away, climb through the window and sneak over to the playground, climb the monkey bars and perch myself on top to try and catch a shooting star, so I could make a wish... maybe one day I could just be "something"...

... fast forward years and years, and the fascination grew to a connection. Obviously, as I became active in the street, the idea of the night was creative and exciting and visceral. Crouched behind bushes, listening, waiting for the right time to run and hit up a spot, listening... your other senses come to life, you see everything different...

... fast forward a few more years,...and I recognize that I relish the night. I come alive at night, all of my creative juices flow easily, much easier than during the day... there is an openness and freedom when I walk outside with paint in my hands... the night air is crisp, it is quiet, I can "hear" the night, I can hear myself, my thoughts, and as I am alone, I feel so connected.

At night, you see shadows, and I think somehow these shadows migrated into my artwork, somewhere in my subconscious, sometimes at night, you see things that are not there, but you think they are, and alas, at night you see things that are there, but hope they weren't...

I learned that I was a "nocturne"... I am a "composition appropriate to the night", yeah that's me... this holds true to this day, that after the world goes to bed, my mind, and my spirit awaken, they fly, they soar, they create art, they create something that when you wake up, you say "HEY! that wasn't there yesterday!"... and for that, you're welcome.

Enter... GREEN! by SCAPE Martinez

Last year at around this time,…

I had this idea of declaring a color, a single color, that I would focus on for the course of that calendar year. Last year, that color was PURPLE. I actually considered extending the time to work with that color, as I feel that I’ve not fully explored the underlying properties of The Color Purple. But, in the bigger picture is time to move on, and to move on to a new color.

That color, for 2017,.. is that mysterious color between blue and yellow. It is the color GREEN!

I want to explore it, fully, all its properties and interactions... What does it sound like? What does it look like? What can it feel like? Or how does it interplay with other colors? What are its properties that I can equally explore and you can experience?

In one capacity, the color green is one that is largely missing from my previous work. You might see more a turquoise and certain lime greens, but as a whole, “Green”, isn’t really there. I wonder out loud, why that is? I know that I’ve historically gravitated toward blues, pinks, and reds, but actual greens not so much, so I am going to put myself in a green box!

So now, what about “GREEN”?

I am a big student of understanding the psychological properties of colors. How colors affect your moods and thinking. For example, walking into a blue room versus walking into a red room and how you feel when you are there...

But about that “GREEN”…

GREEN is a color that has a lot of depth,... it can drift effortlessly close to yellow or veer all the way to blue. It also can play with your eye and sensibilities with the colors you pair it with. From a psychological place, GREEN brings about the sense of “Balance”. Green is in the center of the color spectrum, which is not a random curiosity, it is in fact more important that most recognize.

GREEN is also connected to nature, literally and in metaphor, it is connected to growth. And because of that connection, on an instinctive level, it implies the presence of water, or the color “BLUE”. Also, in this era, GREEN brings about the idea of peace and environmental awareness, it can also can bring about the feeling of restoration and rest.

The idea of a large scale meditative painting in infinite layers of green for example, comes to mind. Redefining that meditative space with my art sounds appealing to me.

The color GREEN is also associated with MONEY and SUCCESS, and oddly enough with ALIEN LIFE. So you can see from a metaphoric point of view, that I have a lot to work with!

GREEN can promote creativity, which aligns with my purpose in my work. It has explicit spiritual connections, as green is the color of the Heart Chakra, bridging the gap between the physical and spiritual worlds. It is the Sacred Color in Islam, and it is found throughout ancient Scriptures in various capacities and meanings. And lastly, in the world of precious stones, GREEN is the color of Emeralds,... you can insert your metaphor on that, right here.

So there it is, GREEN is out there. Maybe, take a few minutes from your day and look how GREEN is placed in your world.

In the end, GREEN is a healing color, a color of growth and rejuvenation, and for me on a deep personal level, after 2015 and 2016, I can use a year of rejuvenation!...

Come and get "into the box" with me, and lets see where it goes!

 

 

Quantum Entanglements,... 2013 by SCAPE Martinez

A slice of "Quantum", from 2013, East Palo Alto, CA.

A slice of "Quantum", from 2013, East Palo Alto, CA.

A slice of "Quantum", from 2013, East Palo Alto, CA.

A slice of "Quantum", from 2013, East Palo Alto, CA.

The complete piece, "Quantum", from 2013, East Palo Alto, CA.

Something New... "Purple Heart"... by SCAPE Martinez

Creativity and inspiration can come in the oddest ways, and at the strangest times,.. here is one...

In the studio cleaning... I stared at this pile of canvas scraps, you know, those pieces that get thrown away because they were either trimmed off when stretching a canvas, or pieces of canvas that just were not good enough... your basic "garbage pile".... stuff that you never even looked twice at, because it was "garbage".

I stared at the pile and I thought, "wow, I like how that looks", there is something there... don't know what, but something... I muttered to myself, "when is something, something, or when is it nothing?"...

I pulled a few scraps out of the pile, and admired the movement of color on a few of them, but these were little pieces of scraps, what can I do with them?... I walked away, tossing the scraps on the floor, let me ruminate on this, something will come from it... I need coffee...

Later, in the studio, in the flurry of automatic creating and moving to that internal instruction, in the midst of purples and reds, I had an epiphany... "remember those hearts?"... um, "What hearts?"... "those hearts"... and suddenly the idea crystallized... get a sheet of wood and cut out the shape of a heart, you're good with that jigsaw, so create a heart shaped frame, and "stretch" these scrap pieces across it and see what it looks like... might be "something", might be "nothing"...

I found a metaphor here,... a heart, made from items that were normally thrown away, now put together to form something beautiful... fill in the blanks as you see fit... street cred be damned...

"Purple Heart", 24 x 24 mixed media and various canvases on wood. 2016