Some may call “the promises” simply a better life in whatever way and shape it comes to you. A better life that one can be thankful for, can appreciate every atom of, and one that is fulfilling and enthralling because the one experiencing it is willing to put forth the work it takes to change things, be willing to accept the world as it comes, and do what it takes to better themselves and seek a future of productivity and appreciation for all things. At the age of 32 I am beginning to understand, or comprehend some semblance of this search, this journey for these promises.
2012 was the best year I have ever had, I mean that. I, for the first time in my life, felt what it meant to see years of hard work reach people, communicate on many platforms with people all over the world, create a better living situation for myself, and in turn afford me opportunities to continue to grow and learn and love the world I am a part of. Throughout 2012 I felt like a Phoenix finally exploding out of the grime and filth and sludge, the chaos and friction and anxiety and self hate, the self imposed fears and restrictions and bars that I had to evolve out of in order to get the perspective on my place in the world I have now. Suddenly things made sense, and the knowledge that so many things will never make sense became something I could swallow. I didn’t have to wake up paralyzed by anxiety and fear of life everyday. The ability to be okay with the world no matter how one thinks it “should” be reconciled, to have ideas and opinions but be able to love life regardless of “if” those ideas and opinions matter or not and simply let life be what it is no matter the outcome is perhaps the biggest “promise” of all.
It is the difference between breathing or suffocating, loving or hating, being enveloped by fear of the unknown or embracing the unknown because it is what we are born from. And it took over a quarter of a century to have this way of seeing beaten, massaged, sliced, explained, recommended and finally born into my psyche. On the Wu-Tang albums I grew up listening to they call this “knowledge of self God”. Thank you RZA and the rest for setting a young framework for generations to be influenced by.
So this all brings me here. It isn’t even about me, but for intensive purposes I am the one writing this as I turn to a year further in the development of my spirit in the universe, as my body gets one year closer to its end. I really feel that the end of the physical will only be the beginning of a higher stage, but I will do the very best I can with this life as it is all I know and as I work toward a relationship with all things. I feel my physical being, every inch ounce hair fiber cell tingle. Getting older has been amazing thus far.
I have work up at the Shooting Gallery in SF right now as part of their Winter Group Show and I am honored to be a part of their movement in the art world as it helps to define, reinterpret, investigate, and communicate with the world we are a part of. I have work up at LOAKL Gallery in Oakland as well, and I am proud to be a part of the early stages of Ken Harman’s new addition to the Bay Area art world as well as he will continue to thrive and spread amazing things to so many people. I will be in a group show at Ocean Avenue Tattoo in SF with my good friend SALEM on January 26th. In March I will be a part of a group show curated by Michael Cuffe who runs Warholian. Then it is off to Japan for a Month long residency at Spes-Lab in Tokyo.
And then in June the first installment of a year long program I have at the SFMOMA opens with three more series of work in the SFMOMA space going up each three months until June 2014. I will finally be having a huge solo show in the Fall of 2013 that will be my last big exhibition of the year and coincide with the second (fall) program I am installing at the SFMOMA. All of this is really happening now, and if not for every bit of life I have survived on this planet leading up to now, none of it would be happening. I am more grateful now for the life my parents created that I have become than I ever knew was possible. Many more updates to come very soon! -John Felix Arnold III, 01/15/2013 IPD FOR LIFE!
Christopher Burch and I descended on the new Book & Job Gallery on Wednesday, November 7th to begin our install of our Fall 2012 two man show “Found in Darkness”. Exploring our own personal mythologies that comprise the focus of our work we embarked on this show in August of this year. Examining respective narrative architectures and linear framework, we began creating installations that reflect real environments within our imaginary worlds, both dealing with different reflections of contemporary issues of social problems, race, the environment, and a proposed future of humanity in our own tales.
We were able to create a conversation through our mixed media forays that not only blended and melded together well in the space but also pushed one another’s practice to a new level of intricacy. Chris dealing with his modern day reinterpretation of the Br’er Rabbit Folk Mythos and myself dealing with all the legends and myths of the world of “Unstoppable Tomorrow” that I have created, we embraced the Book & Job Gallery with energy, drive, thought, and a sense of community and challenge. Our drawings and paintings spoke well with one another as our installation works tied the environment together into a dialogue of two strong minded individuals exploring their own tangible realities in this world together through imagination and practice.
Guy Culver also helped organize a wonderful show of musical talent. Chris Danko of Religious Girls performed an awesome piano solo. Then Guy Culver and his drummer Ringo performed their punk influenced, electronic, synth heavy, hard hitting electro fuck fest of beats, noise, and beautiful screamo moments of chaos as Laughters.
Carson Lancaster, the man behind Book & Job Gallery, did a great job of orchestrating the evening and the install and was a pleasure to work with as well!!! I recommend working with him to any other artist that may be interested in contacting Book & Job. All in all it has been a great experience. Thanks again to Chris for inviting me to be a part of Book & Job and creating yet another killer show with me. -Felix
So the latter half of my trip was begun with a painting commission for a native New Yorker. My friend I-Am-Jesse, a killer DJ who has resided in Japan for many years now, hit me up around the same time I was contacted by Ken South Rock to make a painting for his amazing Shibuya apartment. I crashed at my good friends Frankie and Emi’s house for a couple days near Shinjuku as I began to work on the piece, and then made it over to Jesse’s in Shibuya to finish. Upon completion my last few days in Japan were numbered and the insanity ensued. The latter half of the trip was full of art making, book buying, amazing food, awesome city lurking, people watching, mad partying, building new relationships with some amazing artists, spending time with really good old friends, and all around general mayhem. I was even introduced to a group of artists who run an alternative space called Spes-Lab in Ebisu, Tokyo, and was coincidentally invited to come back in the Spring to rock a solo venture at the space. I was dumbfounded, honored, intimidated, and pretty much floored when I was asked to do this, as I have always wanted to have something like this come about and had never imagined it would be this soon. Big thank you to everyone and everything that made this experience possible. It was amazing.
The video store near Frankie and Emi’s crib was pretty cool. I was into the character design on this one and…
I found John Rambo in Japan. Japambo! Then I found the “adult section” holy shit, craziness. Also they have some truly bizarre and intense porn out there…
This temple is right down the street from Frankie and Emi’s place. One of the most amazing things about cities like Tokyo is that you are bombarded with a truly modern even futuristic high tech setting all the time. Yet every few blocks you are reminded of the city’s rich, thousands of years of history shown in structures and places like this amidst the Blade Runneresque developments.
Temple Graveyard near Frankie and Emi’s.
So after the graveyard it was time to get to work and start painting my commission…
So I got the back ground worked up to where I really liked it at Frankie and Emi’s place. Honestly once I got it to this point, I seriously considered not taking it any further for I felt I had never gotten an abstract piece to this level before and really questioned letting it just be. It felt good to just sit there and stare at and it felt balanced, so I took a break and distracted myself with other things like…
Watching Frankie and Emi come in from the hottest fucking day of all time and totally zone out on the couch as the air conditioner cooled them down to “human” levels.
Then it was time to get on the bus to go to DJ I-Am-Jesse’s crib and finish working on this piece.
So after a lot of pondering, a lot of reference research, and a lot of plain old compositional thinking, I started putting down line work. It literally took about three hours of looking and adjusting the direction and order of the two panels to finally make my first marks.
Work table in full effect.
Right Panel Detail
What a view from I-Am-Jesse’s Crib. Talk about an amazing place to make art!
Shake Weight is even weirder in Japan! Japanese TV time. The pieces are still “Untitled” but they as a Diptych should just be called “Dream Adventure” because that’s what this trip was. Each Panel was about 2’x3′ and the paintings were a mixture of spray paint, house paint, and plastic model kit enamel. Here are a couple more shots.
So the night I finished the commission we went out on the town, and we ended up at the amazing Spes-Lab.
Ken Minami at 5 am, Haneda Airport Train Station. The Journey Begins.
I was on tour with the amazingly talented, hard working, and inspiring duo of Ken Minami and Adam Amram, known as Ken South Rock recently. In one of the most surprising events I have ever experienced, I was asked to go on tour with them in the end of 2011, that tour being in July 2012. They proposed that I come on the road with them armed with pain, markers, and my enthusiasm and energy, and make a live painting on stage while they performed at every show I was there for. They asked me to be a hype mane, dance, sing back ups some times, and make awesome art onstage while being crazy.
Adam Amram, John Felix Arnold III, and Ken Minami, in Kyoto @ Dewey Live House. 07/24/2012
These are all things that come very naturally to me, so I happily obliged. Aside from the three of us, Ken’s awesome wife Chiaki (who was like out translator and our therapist lol) came along and an amazing photographer named Walter Wlordrzyck to document the adventure. We traveled from Tokyo to Kamisuwa to Gifu to Nagoya to Osaka to Kyoto and then I embarked back to Tokyo to work on a different project in Shibuya as they continued on further south. I believe they are in Taiwan at the time of this blog post, and all I can say is that these guys go hard as fuck and that it was truly an honor to be a part of such an amazing happening.
Temple Detail near Ken and Chiaki’s Apartment, near Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Every single city was awesome, each having a speciality food they are known for. As I peered out of the windows of many trains we took along the journey, I was ceaselessly bombarded with sublime, and serene countryside, mountain scape, village to town to city views, and a non stop show of visual amazement. The lushness and glow of the green in the mountain side views is no where close to being replicated in these images.
Out of the train window on our way to Gifu from Kamisuwa.
We ate amazing food that, to my surprise, came from convenience stores, mini marts, hole in the wall train station cookeries, 7/11s and more. We laughed a lot, we tried to sleep, we even were enswathed by scores of school girls in the train cars that had no idea of where we had come and what we were doing, but were none the less totally blown away by the whole thing. I have so much more to tell you guys, and so many photos I have to go through, but here is a good lead in blog post to begin to get the whole memory of this truly surreal experience into your eyes, and a good chance for me to begin regrouping and figuring out whats next after such an amazing experience.
School Girl Mob on the Train traveling from Gifu to Nagoya.
The Beautiful Yui from Suichu Blanco, the awesome band we went on Tour with.
I can’t lie, I am kind of depressed on the daily that I am not there anymore, that I am surrounded by insane amounts of American over consumption, Escalades and Hummers driving by with one person inside, by a culture that revels in “fucking shit it up” just for the sake of doing so, and an overwhelming sense of people trying to get over on one another where, “its not my problem” is the motto.
The amazing Chiaki “Cheese” Minami and Walter Wlodarcyck on a train headed for Osaka.
Gyoza in Nagoya.
I love my country and I love my group of people that I am in the struggle with, but there are a lot of things I now realize that I am not okay with since I have gained some perspective. The food thing is also killing me. I ate so much healthy food, even literally from convenience stores, that tasted so good, with no growth horomones or anything, and now it is hard to get used to that food coma feeling I get here in the states after eating even small things. I have a lot of material to get back in the studio with now! I am very grateful for that!
The past few months have been fucking crazy. We opened ArtNowNY, it was awesome, I just opened my solo show at Old Crow in Oakland, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” It was epic!!! Now I am in Japan, sitting in a rad little apartment in Tokyo about to go on tour with Ken South Rock! This train just doesn’t seem to stop. I am too exhausted right now to really go into anything deep, or summarize anything as of late, or get into any long explanations of work process, art reviews, or even more personal shit. Let me just suffice to say that tonight I am on the other side of the world, I am going to eat really well, be surrounded by awesome people, and start a live performance tour tomorrow that is going to change my life!!!
Here are some images of my opening at Old Crow and more…. I’ll be back soon this time to update you guys!
Sometimes I haveta use this blog to just speak my damn mind, cause its like a bubblin pot of gumbo ready get eating and savored and shit, and analyzed and rethought. This has been a pretty amazing ride in a short amount of time entering 2012. I haveta say life has thrown more at me, good and bad, than almost any other time in my life, but the amazing part seems to be this new found ability to cope, handle, stay on task, and move forward positively instead of falling back into old habits.
Sometimes I agree with the phrase youth is wasted on the young, but right now I don’t because I am not that old and because I am glad I did all (almost all lol still have those selective “what ifs” for sure that I know I will hold onto for a long time) the things I have done and walked through all of the fire as well as ice cream cake I have in my life. This show coming up in New York (Eat Peter to Feed Paul @ Littlefield) and the show I just had in SF (The Love of All Above @ Queens Nails) are really a grounds for me to give appreciation to both places for really nurturing me through some of the best and hardest times I have ever known. SF was a good foundation for me to lose it, in everyway (shit got dark yo lol) then rebuild, and New York was a beautiful pot luck of inspiration, temptation, and trial and error that I get to thankfully go give back to now with a good head, and right fit mind on my shoulders. In other words I am ready to fucking rock this show in New York, not in a overblown big headed way, in a thoughtful, right step, calm and collected, do it well and go hard sort of way. I asked God (my god at least) to please help me get back there someday when I first moved to the Bay, and now after years of becoming a much more “fit to live” person, it is all happening.
I know a lot of people who are very close to me right now that are going through some tough times, very tough times, myself included to a certain degree, and I want to make this trip and this show an experience that demonstrates how appreciative I am for my life and those around me that make it amazing. We are all in this together, and we have to do all of this together, there is no other way to truly make things amazing. Self will only gets one so far. Building with others and living in love, or at least appreciating the little things and the big ones and always trying to make others know they are appreciated is what makes movements and creates change on a massive scale. I am coming home New York, get ready because it is a whole different approach to getting on that tar mac this time. Much Love to Everyone, they know who they are! NGO! John Felix Arnold III
“The Love of All Above” @ Queens Nails Projects in San Francisco’s Mission District on February 4th was awesome!!! Everyone had a great time, we generated some amazing press, even Alfonso & Monique from Cosio-Delaunay and Ali Lain from the San Francisco Bay Area Guardian came through to check it out! Kimberly Chun from the Chronicle even gave us a shout out two days before the show in print. It was amazing. the performances were unforgettable and people kept popping up all night long to say hello and participate in the show. So with that in mind here are the awesome photos of the night, with performers Kool Kid Kreyola, Him Downstairs, Daylight Curfew, and all of our friends and peers in the scene. Can’t wait to do it again with Christopher Burch, Ninjasonik, and Ken South Rock in New York in two weeks at Littlefield!!! Check out the slide show below.
So I am officially flying to New York on February 23rd to get ready for my latest artistic endeavor, “Eat Peter to Feed Paul”. One of the sickest artists I know and have the privilege of working with and also being good friends with, namely Christopher Burch (who is currently doing a residency with the Luggage Store), is joining forces with me to storm my old stomping grounds of Brooklyn, NY. We are coming to the amazing venue known as Littlefield in the Gowanus neighborhood ot the Kings County Burrough, and we will be joined by amazing musical talent from long times friends and musical collaborators Ninjasonik and Ken South Rock (whom I am going on tour with in Japan in the summer) This is my first posting about this on my blog, so know that you will be seeing a lot more material and progress once I am on my way. Keep in touch;) Below is a link to the Official Press Release and a Brief Description of the show and concept behind it. I’m ready for Pizza, Pastrami, and Yakitori Taisho! It’s on.
PRESS EVENT INFO
“Eat Peter to Feed Paul” @ Littlefield : Brooklyn : NY
So I was contacting by a really awesome person from Art Larking, a super sick art and culture blog, to do an interview really out of the blue. They have featured Old Crow before whom I have worked with extensively and I was truly honored to be considered for an interview. I have gotten some really amazing feedback on the interview and I had the most amazing time answering the questions and have since been getting to know Rae who interviewed me, online facebook and she is exceptionally refreshing and rad. Much thanks to Rae Rubio and everyone at Art Larking for their amazing support and genuine interest in what I am doing, they really made me dig deep. Click on the image below to link straight to the interview. Rae you Rock!