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

Something New,... Sharing "GIFTS"... by SCAPE Martinez

I normally don't do figurative works, and when I do, I rarely share them as I choose to walk down that abstract pathway.

This work is the beginning of sharing a small area of my brain, where I want to investigate some notions of what is "popular". I've always felt that modern graffiti/street art is the new pop art, I wanted to explore a little, and this is a segment of that exploration.

I wonder out loud why a person or a thing is popular?.. is it organic? is it because of marketing? is it a combination? and the reaction from people when a popular thing is placed in front of them? I am fascinated by these things...

I also wanted to exercise my hands, meaning, that I actually like to draw, draw letters, doodles, etc, and these images are a part of that love affair, they are drawings, and paintings, using pencil, charcoal sticks, watercolors, and even spraypaint make an appearance. The images are based on photographs that I worked over in Photoshop and drawn by hand on high quality paper, they are pretty large, and in the end I want to explore that idea of the repeating image, that hand rendered one is the original, the others (soon to come) will be replications of the central image, and there will be more on that later.

"GIFTS", Pencil, charcoal, inks, and spraypaint on watercolor paper, 26x40 2016


I chose her because of the striking image. I poured over the idea of "popular", who is popular, what is popular?... what does it look like? who does it look like? and to whom?... I found her image striking, and quite frankly the darkness of the hair is something one can get lost in. So i began to look at the image more from aesthetic reasons, and a way of "seeing" if that makes sense. I chose the title "GIFTS", as I feel volumes can be written about Amy Winehouse and her exceptional gifts, as well as her wounds and how ther are tied together... And I must reiterate that this is the first revealed excursion in this lane, it will morph and change and grow,... but at it's base there lies the question of "what is popular, and why?...