I have been so busy with the organization of this trip and residency, and the traveling, and now the actual project work that I have not had a chance to get to my blog…So my apologies to everyone out there in blog land….I will be returning in the morning with a more in depth post about the travels, visions, and work going on with “Bright on Time” at Spes-Lab!!! Good to be back in touch with you…
Man, life comes at you fast. I feel like yesterday I had just gotten back from Japan and I was trying to get back in the swing. In what feels like no time I have grown a lot as a person and an artist, I have walked through a lot of things with my head still attached and my feet still on the ground (loosely lol), and am still completely charged and stoked about the future and my present being on this planet with all of ya’ll. I am getting really amped up about the SFMOMA project coming up, largely because I received a studio visit and real deal critique from Renee DeCosio (program director for the SFMOMA Artist Gallery) who came through with the awesome Alfonso Cosio recently. Man it was the best, most honest, intriguing, to the point, helpful, and explorative, no kid gloves critique I have had in a longgg time (since Pratt actually). It gave me some new juice to make an incredibly in depth new series for the first installment of the SFMOMA windows in June (also part of the Yerba Buena Alliance art walk) where I am really exploring some foundations, the origin and the architecture of the Astroknots, and by doing so really revisiting and dealing with a lot of things that were going on when I first moved to California in 2006. I have really dove deeply back into process and am exploring some of my core basics and letting things happen without a presumed outcome again. I am quite honestly the happiest I have been making art in a long time in creating these new pieces and the series that I see coming from it.
With amazing art work generally comes a lot more under the surface. Of course this comes at a time when things in my personal life are pretty intense, yet I do feel my feet are still planted firmly on the earth. It is amazing to feel such a sense of presence and compassion for things happening that I am involved with that the old me would have reacted to out of serious personal fears and insecurities, but rather now see how I can help and how I can maintain my balance in the face of some heavy stuff. To everyone in my life right now I say with huge words, I love you all and you are all very dear to me, thank you all for being you and exploring life here with me and not being afraid to get real with those you care about. And to finish this one off, I am going to Japan for my residency in less than two months. I will be doing a six day meditation pilgrimage before I get to work in Tokyo for three weeks! It’s going to be, as Kenichi Minami from Ken South Rock says, a Huge Volcano!
I stand before you today to tell all of you how excited it makes me to say this. If you have been following my sparse internet presence as of late, you have heard hints here and there of the news that I am going to be featured in the SFMOMA in downtown San Francisco. The SFMOMA Artist Gallery (their more contemporary and larger artist representation wing located at Ft. Mason) is in charge of curating the windows that face Minna St. and Natoma St. on the sides of the Museum itself in Downtown San Francisco. After making a personal goal years ago to myself of getting my work featured in these windows someday, it is happening. I have them for a year, and the first installment in a four part saga that runs from June 2013-June 2014 begins this June 8th. Beyond my wildest dreams this has become a reality.
This above shot is from my Birthday Performance Art Show at LeQuivive Gallery in Oakland January 16, 2013.
I will be running my programming in the three window bay units on Minna St. and using the Natoma side here and there as a background for performance work and possibly for intimate special engagements and explorations in new installation environments from the world of Unstoppable Tomorrow. The three pieces for the first installment of the Minna St. windows are complete. I may add some smaller relics and mixed media pieces to the windows as the date moves closer, but for now, these are the pieces. Two are brand new, and both as of yet un-named fully, and the third is in fact from July 2011. It is called Event Elation and has only been shown once here in the Bay Area (it was out of my grasp for a year due to unforeseen issues with a curator but is now happily back in my hands). So without further adieux here are images of these 8’x4′ Mixed Media on Wood Panel Pieces!!!!
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!
So first and foremost I would like to thank Kate Conger at SF Weekly for doing an awesome article and interview on yours truly and the world of “Unstoppable Tomorrow”. It feels really good to open up about some of the finer and darker points of my life that has sculpted my art making to what it is today! She is a great writer, really made me dig deep and I do thank her for the opportunity to do this piece. It feels good to spill your guts sometimes in print. Here is a link, click on the image below…
Lastly, I have amazing news. I will be doing a residency at Spes-Lab in Tokyo in April of 2013, and then when I come back it is time to do my first installation of a year long program of the SFMOMA windows in downtown San Francisco. More on this to come!!! Things are looking good!
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.
Classic Shot at a Train Station between Gifu and Kamisuwa.
To continue on with the amazing trip to Japan I recently had the honor of experiencing, here are more photos of the hard hitting band I was with, Ken South Rock. They are in Taiwan right now reaching out to a whole new audience, and I heard from drummer Adam Amram that they are loving it!!! So as stated in my last blog post, we went from Tokyo to Kamisuwa to Gifu to Nagoya to Osaka to Kyoto and then I came back to Tokyo to begin work on a new project for the latter half of my journey. So here we go, hold on to your hats, Ken South Rocks Hardest!!! We Started off in Tokyo in a rad neighborhood called Shimokitizawa at a place called Club251, from that moment on it was madness. My jetlag felt like a long lingering acid trip for the first four days, which made the whole thing even weirder.
Chicken Karage on a stick from 7/11, early in the morning before we embarked to Kamisuwa.
Chiaki “Cheese” Minami!
This is one of the best photos from the whole trip. This girl was totally enthralled and confused by Adam trying to untangle a pair of sun glasses from his major Jew Fro. It was one of the funniest and most precious things we had all ever seen. Adam and Chiaki cracked up when they saw the photos. We are leaving Kamisuwa here on the way to Gifu.
Got off the train in Gifu and there stood a giant Golden Oda Nobunaga statue! It was my first major geek out orgasm moment of the trip! So sick to to see this, it set the tone for me for the rest of the trip! So after rounding the bend of this very well planned station in Gifu (where Nobunaga actually began to unify Japan from in the 16th century) we descended into Gifu, and into one of the most awesome shows of the whole trip! the people in Gifu are fun loving, loud, hard working, hard partying, amazing folks who love music and love to embrace others and have a great time. It felt like a good hard working blue collar city that works hard plays hard and treats its people and visitors with respect and good humor! We had a fucking blast. Satomi from Casper Live House is a fucking fox for sure, tattooed up and had the best “I don’t give a fuck” attitude I experienced on the trip. Her boyfriend ended up being the bass player to one of the best bands (a screamo black metal band) we saw all tour, and they took us to an awesome Izakaya after the show! And we finally stayed in comfy as hotel rooms that were crazy cheap! Success!
Ken Minami looking sexy in front of an awesome, classic, well kept ride in the parking lot of Casper Live House.
Reminds me of Durham, NC.
The amazing Chiaki Cheese with Adam Amram at Izakaya.
One more shot of the Nobunaga Monument.
Ken, worn the fuck out at Izakaya after the show in Gifu!
So the next day we traveled to Nagoya, we stopped for Gyoza first, and then were on are way. I was exhausted by the time we got to Nagoya, but we still faired well. Nagoya was cool, but I was definitely missing Gifu and looking forward to Osaka big time!
Walter, the official tour photographer, on a train headed for Osaka. Getting for photographed for a change.
The schoogirl fans were pretty awesome!
Styled Out in Nagoya.
This was the set up that I painted with at each venue on tour. We would set this up on a table with a drop cloth on stage, and I would set up all of my supplies so that when I was called on stage by Adam in the second song I would jump around, yell and scream and then go in super hard on the painting. It broke down really easily and folded up and was super easy to transport on the trains from city to city. There’s walter right next to it on the couch backstage at the Live House we performed at in Nagoya!
And then it was time to embark to Osaka! Now Osaka is one of my favorite places in the entire world, seriously, it rocks. We bid farewell to Chiaki, and went on our way to the region of Kansai, ready to rockkkk out, and eat Takoyaki!
Adam at sound Check at Fan J in Osaka.
So Osaka is the shit, I took a lot of pictures of the city as I went out alone exploring before the show and the next day. I also got some great images of Suichu Blanco at this show. The promoter unfortunately was a bunch of talk and didn’t get nearly enough people there, but none the less we went super hard. The show was really crazy and the after party in the club was mad fun. A tiny super cute girl actually rode me around the club like a giant animal. It was nuts.
The Hostel in Osaka was reallllly awesome. Ten Hostel it was called. I highly recommend!
Yes, the best, the Osaka Style Okonamiyaki. This edible delight concluded one of my food journeys on the trip.
Ken Minami as we are about to leave the hostel. From here we went to my final tour destination, Kyoto. Kyoto was so amazing. It is a beautiful and historical city, and the bands at this show were some of the best I have ever heard or seen, ever. No joke, they threw down in Kyoto, it was crazy! Here is a super cutie for you and a whole bunch of photos of my last day of being on tour.
In the morning after the Kyoto show, Ken put me on a Bullet Train back to Tokyo. We said a round of goodbyes and I embarked solo back to the point which I had launched forward with these amazing spirits. This experience changed my life, no lie!
And thus ended the tour for me. I arrived in Tokyo, went to Chiaki and Ken’s house in Shinjuku and delivered the best painting that was done live on stage on the whole tour! (Coincidentally it was done on the last night in Kyoto). Chiaki was stoked, I was exhausted, exhilirated, ready for more, yet needed some rest. I thanked the gods for this amazing experience, Chiaki and I kicked it, I took a nap, then it was off to my friends Frankie and Emi’s house to begin the next chapter in my Japan Art Tour. Next to come was a commission for a friend and DJ in Shibuya, and some serious insanity lurking around Tokyo!!! Thanks to Ken South Rock, Chiaki, all the Live Houses, Walter Wlodarcyck, Suichu Blanco and everyone along the way.
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!
I ended up taking a great reel of great production and progress shots of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” at Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery, and some good photos of the openings. Him Downstairs performed Saturday night and then Sunday was Unstoppable Death Machines and the Laughters. Count Z-Bop was even hanging out. It was spectacular! I hope you all enjoy seeing the install process and the final product. -Felix
Tools, Wood, things to make the magic with.
Motocycle piece “The Great Debate” just finished moments ago.
The organ was a good find, thank you urban ore.
Viking Ben lending a hand.
Arial view compliments of Terry Addison.
“In Memory of…” series.
Star Wars Stormtrooper Helmet Relic Remix.
D Young V looking wild!
Nadia and I flossin!
D Young V and I representing.
We all love to see ZeeZee!
The most amazing couple alive.
Joel Tarman back from Palesien with Rhea St. Julien.
Fuckin New Yorkers!
“The Great Debate”
Joel and Rhea St. Julien aka Him Downstairs.
Ara Christina Jo being awesome as usual.
How did everyone at Old Crow become so damn cool? Dana James looking tough on the bike piece!
Dana James fully suited up for the world of Unstoppable Tomorrow.
The lovely Chloe Crossman with the coolest hair dew of all time.