Last month I camped in Death Valley. It was everything I thought it would be, and more. It
was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. Seeing the amount of open space
and the scale of the surrounding mountains constantly challenged my brain's ability to make
sense of it. It was surreal, and it was felt as much as it was seen. It has the lowest point in
North America at 282 feet below sea level and a mountain peak that's over 11,000 feet high,
and those two spots are 15 miles apart!
It is a very humbling place and it seems sacred for some reason. If you're on the dirt roads,
which is where we camped, it seems like you are the only people on earth. That can be
alarming on some levels, but overall it's intensely peaceful. The word magical kept coming
to mind. There is a power there that still resonates with me weeks after being back. I loved
everything about it...the openess and solitude, dramatic elevation changes, the unspoiled
naturalness of it, and of course the colors. It was very green in places with the dirt and rocks
ranging from white and gray, to red, brown, purple, and black. The wildflowers were
blooming and absolutely beautiful. They were mostly yellow, purple, and white, with some
pink and orange mixed in.
I made a few new pieces of art before the trip with Death Valley in mind, but I came back
with more inspiration than I could have hoped for. I took about two hundred photos, some as
panoramics that I put together in Photoshop. The smallest, seen below, is made from three
photos, the largest was made from over twenty photos. If you look closely in the photo
below you can see the one way dirt road we drove on getting smaller and smaller...the depth
and distances were difficult to realize.
The pieces of art I have made since coming back are personal in a way that my art before
was not. I'm making pieces based on my feelings and memories of Death Valley. They are in
the format of panoramic photos, and are spray paint on cut strips of wood. They are
separate images, painted one at a time, that work individually as sections of Death Valley
seen from different viewpoints and/or different times of day, and also work together to
make a bigger, more complete image of Death Valley. Jean-Paul Sartre, in a commentary on
Albert Camus's book The Stranger, said each sentence is a separate thought, distinct from
the one before, and exists in it's own reality, but when put together in paragraphs they
combine to make a bigger reality and meaning. I like to think of my Death Valley pieces in
this way, and I believe through my experience there and some hard work, I might have
brought some magic back with me.
I'm showing new art at Benko Gallery in South Lake Tahoe starting on May 20th through
June. Thanks John! If you happen to visit Tahoe, please go check it out, it's a great gallery
with lots of great art and it's close to the casinos.
In June I'm showing a new piece in a show called BLUE at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts
in Sebastopol. Luckily for me, I really like the color blue.
The Crocker Art Museum's Big Names Small Art will feature one of my pieces this month,
and another will be in their Art Auction in June.
Finally, in August I will be showing at Archival Gallery in Sacramento with the amazing
Maureen Hood. She is one of my favorite artists and I'm inspired by her work. I will be
showing the new Death Valley pieces so please come check it out.
Anyway...Death Valley is still there, even though I feel I brought a lot of it back with me. It
continues to be the focus of most of my art, and I'm very excited about the new pieces.
I'm experimenting a lot, and that is always a good thing for me, because it keeps me
moving forward and forces me to make creative choices.
I'm showing the new work next month at Archival Gallery. Maureen Hood is also showing
new work, and I couldn't be happier sharing a show with her. I think this show is going to
be beautiful and inspiring.
The photo above is inspiring to me...I can still feel what it was like sitting there in a chair
drinking tea and watching the sun slowly come up. It was the start of a new day and it
felt like beautiful things were about to be revealed. When I work on the Death Valley
pieces I have a similar feeling, as if every day is a new opportunity for an adventure. I
like to think, at their best, the pieces might capture some of the beauty, power, serenity,
and chaos of that amazing place.
In September I'm taking part in Verge's Sac Open Studios. I will be in my studio
(garage/driveway), listening to music and probably painting so come out and say hi. In
October I will have a Death Valley piece in the KVIE Art Auction, which is always a great
It's been over 100° lately, and that's hot....but at least it's not Death Valley hot. Stay
My show at Archival is dedicated to a good friend who lost his life last month. I met him
when I was in junior high school. Over the last few years he stopped by my studio often to
hang out and see whatever I was working on. He always had interesting ideas and
suggestions about art and was always happy to see my pieces come to life. He was a
talented guitar player, appreciated all kinds of people and art, and was a huge supporter of
mine. He also loved color and being outdoors.......I think Death Valley and my new pieces
would have made him smile.
This is one of the new pieces I'm working on. The painting part of it is done, now I have to
put it all together. There are quite a few steps in building these things and, luckily, I like all
the steps. I have twelve new Death Valleys painted, and they are taller and wider than the
previous ones. I really like the bigger panels, they allow me to experiment more with
different painting techiniques, and I'm able to blend the colors better and have the option of
smoother transitions. The pieces are becoming more powerful and subtle at the same time.
I feel I'm learning with each one, and as long as I'm experimenting and taking chances, and
not getting too hung up on the outcome, I think they will continue to get better and better.
As long as I'm talking about Death Valley again, I should mention I'm planning on going
back! Either right after Christmas, or early next Spring. It's been on my mind since the day I
got back from the last trip. I plan on seeing some of the same spots, but I will definitely see
some new parts of the park. Certain things in my life, I just don't question...the power and
inspiration of Death Valley is one of them.
I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and don't forget to sometimes just stop and look at
things...it can change your life. peace.
Thanks to everyone who came out to my show in August! A special thanks to D. at Archival
for giving me a show with Maureen Hood...the show looked beautiful and was very special
to me. It was a success on many levels and I think it was a sign of good things to come. I've
been busy since the show...yes, painting more Death Valley pieces. I had two Death Valleys
in Bold Expressions, a national juried show at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center, where Death
Valley 2 won the Evelyn Michell Memorial Award. I have three new pieces at STUDIO Gallery
in San Francisco, one of them is pictured above. The show is called tiny, with each piece
being smaller than 7" x 7". I also have a couple of Induction pieces in the gallery. It's my first
time showing at STUDIO and I'm excited to be part of the show. I still have work at the Benko
Gallery in South Lake Tahoe, so if you're in the area, stop in and check it out...it's a great
gallery showing very unique artwork.
I spent a lot of time this year working on art and trying to be a healthier person. I changed a
few things in the way I make art, which led to new discoveries, and I changed my diet, which
led to feeling better. Feeling better allowed me to have more energy and focus while
working, and I've never enjoyed making art as much as I have this past year. I feel a purpose
and a sense of confidence that wasn't there before. I'm still making Induction pieces, like
the one above, and my Death Valley pieces continue to evolve. I also started a new series
called Ascending. These pieces combine driftwood, found objects, and paint. They will
usually have a "wing" of some kind and they will represent the challenge to progress in life
and rise above the past, looking forward with an open mind, and the idea that I can become
whatever, or whoever I want.
The image below is a panorama of Death Valley, and was taken from the campsite. The
road leading off to the left ends at sand dunes which are over a mile away. I hope to camp
somewhere near this spot again next Spring. It's incredibly peaceful and it's one of the
places that inspired me to paint with more purpose and feeling.
The image below is the most recent Death Valley piece. It's #40 in the series. It measures
18 inches tall by 5 feet wide, making it the tallest one so far. You can see a bigger image of
it in the gallery, which is updated and has most of the new pieces. I'm excited to start
painting Death Valleys again, and after my next visit I'm sure I'll have new ideas. I also hope
to bring back more of the magic, peace, and inspiration I feel when I'm there.
I have three exhibits scheduled next year, two of them in San Francisco and one here in
Sacramento. I'm excited about all of them. It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm definitely up
for it. I couldn't be happier with my recent work and I believe it will continue to get better.
I want to thank everyone who helped make this a great year for my art. I hope everyone has a
great Holiday Season and enters the new year with an open mind and confidence.
"The self is only that which it is in the process of becoming."
more DEATH VALLEY...
sweetness and light
a beautiful reminder to smile more
you brought out the best in me and gave me joy every day
you offered love with an open invitation
playful, intelligent, always comforting
strong-willed, but patient
full of energy, but calming
you lifted my spirits and anchored me
we grew together and learned together, connected
a small body with a big spirit, you made people feel good,
and your heart never stopped growing
our bond was a special gift
sweet, beautiful, and life changing
thank you my sweet Mojo
I want to thank everyone who saw my show at Archival in April...it was my favorite show yet.
A special thanks to D. at Archival for giving me the entire space. There's still something
about Death Valley that inspires me and because of that, I think the pieces are getting better
and better. When I look at them I feel calm and excited at the same time (I didn't know that
was possible!) and I will explore them more soon.
I'm in the process of making a group of small Induction pieces for a show at ARC Gallery in
San Francisco. They are made to set on any flat surface. I was invited to be in the show with
sixteen artists, each making sixteen small pieces. The show is in August, and should be
neat...more info later.
My other show in April was at STUDIO Gallery in San Francisco...these are the artists I
showed with: T. Garrett Eaton and Kate Barrengos. It was a really beautiful show. Jen and
Rab at STUDIO did an amazing job of picking artists with different styles but common
elements, and the pieces were hung in a way that allowed those elements to flow together
as you moved around the gallery. It was a successful show for all of us, and it was great
meeting them and talking about art. I'm very happy to have been invited to show at
STUDIO...I think it's a good sign of things to come.
Later this month I will have pieces in The Crocker Art Museum's annual Art Auction and their
Big Names Small Art auction. Death Valley 36 will be in the main auction, and Induction 90
will be in BNSA. These are great events and I'm proud to be a part of them again this year.
I'm taking part in Verge's Open Studios tour again in September. Last year was fun and I'm
looking forward to this year's event. Also, I'll have a Death Valley piece in the KVIE Art
Auction in Sept.
Thanks for looking...peace.
July was a busy month in the studio. I finished four new Death Valley pieces and about
twenty Inductions. The new Death Valleys make me very happy...they are large pieces that
evoke different feelings simutaneously, they are powerful and energetic, yet calming. The
Inductions will be shown at ARC Gallery in San Francisco later this month in a show called
In September I will have work at Archival Gallery in a group show called The Box It Came In,
where each piece of art is made from a cigar box. The piece above is a collaboration
between Maureen Hood and myself called le Voyeur. It was an honor to work with her on this
piece. She's one of my favorite artists. We seemed to exchange ideas really well and the
piece evolved naturally. It's great when different styles and sensibilities come together to
create something neither artist would have come up with on their own. We're both very happy
with the way it turned out. I made another cigar box piece on my own called Smoke, you can
view it in the gallery. It's a light box made with flickering multi-colored LED lights, a
screenprint, and layers of polycarbonate.
Earlier this month I visited Al Farrow at his studio in San Rafael. He was kind enough to take
a few hours and show me his new work and his studio. He's incredibly talented and
motivated and a real inspiration to me. He took the time to show me how he applies
chemicals to different metals, before and after building a piece, to achieve specific patinas.
He talked about his creative process from designing to building, and showed me how he
makes large, complicated structures from many small parts. His work is intricate, thoughful,
scary, and absolutely incredible...if you have not seen it, check it out.
Also this month, I have a piece in a group show called The Written Word at STUDIO Gallery in
San Francisco. It's art inspired by books and writing, and I'm showing Induction 69, which is
spray paint on wood, and contains letters and numbers as well as abstracted sections
painted on individual strips of wood. Next month, as part of Verge's Open Studios, my studio
will be open to the public Sept. 15-16. Like last year, I'm planning on giving away lots of
freebies and there will be lots of new and older art for sale, so come by and check it out.
New Death Valleys in progress! These panels are bigger than earlier panels and that gives
me more space to paint transitions and create depth. They are also getting darker, which is
something I tried before but never achieved. I'm not sure why, but it's been a challenge
painting darker colors. I don't mind the struggle, it can be exciting working a bit outside of
my comfort zone and improvising until something works. I had to develop some new
techniques to get the colors to blend the way I wanted and that's a good thing.
The darker pieces are inspired by photos I took in Death Valley, before the sun came up,
just as the sky was turning blue....starting from almost black-blue to bright, sky blue. I
couldn't be happier with these new pieces. They make me feel like I'm sitting out there in
the middle of a space, in the middle of space. I'm going to continue with the darker pieces
and eventually try to capture the feeling of the sunsets out there. I'm sure they will
challenge me as much as these have, but I have more confidence in my abilities now and I
welcome the challenge.
This month I have pieces at STUDIO Gallery in San Francisco for their annual tiny show. It's
an amazing show with over 200 artists. If you are down there anytime before the end of the
year, check it out!
I'm also very happy to announce I now have work at Artize Gallery in Palm Springs. The
owner Kelly has owned galleries and collected art for over twenty years. She knows her
stuff and is an honest and fun person. The gallery also has an Art-O-Mat machine, so that's
pretty awesome. So, if you're driving through Palm Springs stop in and check out the art.
Check back for more info on new work and upcoming shows...thanks,
"There are landscapes in which we feel above us not sky but space. Something larger,
deeper than sky is sensed, is seen, although in such settings the sky itself is invariably
immense. There is a place between the cerebrum and the stars where sky stops and space
commences, and should we find ourselves on a particular prairie or mountaintop at a
particular hour, our relationship with sky thins and loosens while our connection to space
becomes as solid as bone." - Tom Robbins, from Skinny Legs And All
That passage describes what I feel when I'm in the desert, especially Death Valley. It's what
I'm trying to convey with paint. This is a detail of an unfinished new piece...
I'll be showing the new work in May at Archival here in Sacramento, and after that at STUDIO
in San Francisco, stay tuned for more info. I wish everyone a peaceful new year filled with
open minded learning and acceptance.
A new year brings new art, new exhibits, and a new perspective on things. Thanks to
everyone who was a part of my art last year, it was awesome in many ways. I'm off to a
great start in Palm Springs at Artize Gallery, and I have exhibits coming up this year in
Sacramento and San Francisco. More info on those soon. Next month I'm heading back to
Death Valley for a few days. I'm looking forward to being there and seeing how the light
changes in winter. After that, it's the Grand Canyon for a couple of days. Hopefully the
weather is good enough for some hiking into the canyon.
When I get home, it's back to the studio to finish up pieces for the shows and start a new
project that I'm excited about. I don't want to say too much yet in case it doesn't come
together the way I imagine, but if it does, I think it will be a special series of pieces. It will
take a combination of planning and improvisation to pull it off, and that's music to my ears.
I want to wish everyone a happy new year with inner and outer peace and this quote:
“Certainty is primitive, leads to ‘us versus them’ tribalism...We should be united in our
uncertainty, not divided over fabricated certainty.“ -Tim Urban
Embracing the uncertainty in 2019...and moving up and out from where I was.
Death Valley did it again. Inspired me and surprised me...from watching the sunrise in the
middle of Death Valley (above), to hiking in Golden Canyon at sunset (below) where they
shot extra scenes for the original Star Wars. The light was magical. It was sublime and
euphoric. As the light changed so did the character of the landscape.
It is such an amazing place. Many areas can be seen from a car or lookout, but hiking is the
best way to experience the Death Valley magic. It looks and feels like you're on another
planet. I brought back a lot of photos and feelings which I will use to create the next
paintings. I have never been so in awe of a place...this trip was the best one yet, and I still
only saw a small part of Death Valley National Park. The photo below is at Dante's View
overlooking Badwater Basin and Death Valley. The lookout is at 5476 feet. The white part
(which is salt) is 282 feet below sea level, while the mountains on the far side, about 15
miles away, have a peak that's over 11,000 feet. Hard to capture all that in a photo.
Death Valley is a special place for me. It makes me feel things I've never felt anywhere
else. It inspires me to be present and appreciate my surroundings....and make better art.
So far, I've made a slideshow and a couple of videos from the trip. They show different
parts of the park...from hikes and campsites to driving on the roads. You can view them
here: Death Valley Videos. For the best viewing, watch them on a full size monitor.
I have two shows coming up. The first is in May at Archival Gallery, and the second is in
June at STUDIO Gallery in San Francisco. I'm showing new Death Valleys and pieces from
two new series. Also, I just delivered more artwork to Artize Gallery in Palm Springs. If
you're in the area check it out. It's a great gallery, it's in the desert, and it's not hot yet.