I’m originally from East Oakland, then studied art and history at UC Davis. By the time I got out, the dot com bubble was blowing up the rents in Oakland so I ended up in San Francisco’s SOMA district and then the Mission, which at the time was still a low-income neighborhood. That is where I first started selling my paintings in the street in the late 90s. There was a mainly Chicano vibe, thus a receptive audience to my explorations into pre-Columbian art of Mexico and Central America and my Dia De Los Muertos paintings.
Soon after, I started vending at local festivals like Carnaval, craft fairs, and alternative venues from cafes to small businesses all over the Bay Area. I went on the road up and down the coast and did some visiting lectures at schools and universities. Through collaboration with other local artists, I ended up doing some writing and color for an animated short, which was selected for the Sundance Film Festival. Deciding to fulfill my lifelong aspiration to go to art school led me to enroll in the graduate program in Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. There I was able to not only have a community of other artists to work with but found the mentorship needed to take my work to the next level.
After graduation in 2008, I started teaching Art History at Laney College, then landed an adjunct position at California College of the Arts where I started developing classes in Diversity Studies and taught in the Core program. Through lecturing and studying comedy, I found tools valuable to my previous career selling my art. Although I am currently teaching at CCA.
My work is chiefly concerned with memory, narrative, and color in an attempt to make objects to be worthy of preservation. I produce collages and multimedia work that includes western texts and photographs for both aesthetic value and content people trust, such as newsprint.
My northwest coastal designs reflect the tradition of their own aesthetic sensibility and conform to a standard; the formal structure of Northwest coast art integrates spiritual and metaphysical ideas about the inseparability of one animal from another, or man from the context of his specific environment. These ideas reinforce the social necessity of cooperation and coordination. One image can coexist within another image without losing its integrity, or endangering its identity. This philosophical viewpoint is especially attractive to those of us representing multiple cultural influences. My “Day of the Dead” inspired work, with its satire, tribute, and memory encompasses my most significant interests: comedy and tragedy. My art is a celebration aiming to keep those in balance.
When it comes to price, I aim to make art available, not price it out of the range of affordability. I’m not here as a businessman, but an artist sharing his culture and gift with the world. I believe sharing our culture increases its chance of survival.