Saturday, January 30, 2016

Drake Hotel Mural: A long overdue update in general.

I'm back. Here I am! I haven't posted on the blog since 2014. That's really embarrassing! It's ok man, I mean, lots of things have happened and the more things stacked up the harder it became to keep track of, document and write about the past year and a bit. Also depression is a real thing, and life's been pretty up and down for the past couple of years.

I spent time with an old friend of mine last night. She has recently been pulled into her own upswing from a very low-feeling summertime. She had a wonderful new coat, new job and exciting things happening in her love life and I remembered that of course things can get better. I don't really have too much else to say about it. It was nice to see her, I'm looking forward to the future, but here is the first step in documenting the past little while of my creative life.

I was commissioned in spring 2014 to make two murals for The Drake Hotel. They took a month to complete. The first is on the north patio of the Drake Cafe, and the second is on the third floor in a strange courtyard that is only visible through guest bedroom windows. So... I guess it you stay at the Drake maybe you will see them? I will likely never see them in person again although who knows! I had to climb on the roof every day in the hot sun and sometimes it was very hard but other times it was really fun. The North Patio mural was a pretty social experience, I would often get visitors, friends who came by specifically to say hi or others who were just passing on the street and didn't know I would be there working. Sometimes my friend Tomas would hang out and bring me a pint. I felt very visible and exposed, but it was nice to get positive feedback and to interact with other people. I felt appreciated.

Working on the roof was a very different experience. I didn't have to deal with the distraction of visitors (sometimes it was difficult to concentrate, talking to people and painting isn't usually an easy thing to do) but it was, in the best and worst ways, lonely and alienating. It was tricky to take a break when I felt frustrated, as I literally had to climb either up or down onto the roof every time I came and went. The weather was another challenge: I am really sensitive to the sun and on a few occasions I became sunsick. Other times it rained and I was hunched over my laptop protecting like a baby. There was no real shelter available in that spot.

Mostly working on art alone feels liberating and enriching in addition to being kind of sad. Spending time with yourself trying to accomplish a creative task is kind of the main essence of being an artist (sorry, that was really corny). We join studios and make collectives and collaborate to alleviate it, but at the end of the day it's just you alone in a studio and you kind of have to like it. Taking pleasure in loneliness, wrapping yourself in its weird drafty blanket. You talk to yourself, chain smoke (if you're me), sometimes cry, accept your failures and celebrate magic moments when things fall into place. The ways that it can feel so easy and natural, and the way that failing can be such a painful struggle.

There were other difficulties: sometimes not liking the thing I had been commissioned to make, even though I designed it. Having to walk past patrons in the Sky Bar who had no idea why I was there. I looked like a dirty, sunburnt maintenance worker, which by no means is a bad thing but let me tell you that I am not immune to dirty looks. People who go to drink or dine at the Drake Hotel are very different from the people who make the work on display in the Drake Hotel. That disconnect, the cultural and economic gap, got to me really badly at least once. I definitely remember crying on my way home that day.

Here is the actual work. The north patio mural was only supposed to last a year, but it's still there. Go look at if if you are walking by sometime.

Photos courtesy of the Drake Hotel, by Connie Tsang.

That's it for now, more updates coming: murals, posters, drawings. Updating my website, changing the logo, taking it one step at a time.

xo budsies