Ferguson, Mo. | August 13, 2014
1. A protester throws back a smoke bomb while clashing with police. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
2. Riot police clear a street with smoke bombs. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
3. Police surround and detain two people in a car. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
4. Police officers work their way north on West Florissant Avenue, clearing the road with the use of tear gas and smoke bombs. (Robert Cohen/AP)
5. A police officer patrols a business district. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
6. A demonstrator, protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, stands his ground as police fire tear gas. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
7. An explosive device deployed by police flies in the air. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
8. A demonstrator holds up a Pan-African flag to protest the killing of Michael Brown. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
9. A device fired by police goes off in the street. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
10. A demonstrator throws back a tear gas container after tactical officers worked to break up a group of bystanders on Chambers Road and West Florissant in St. Louis. (Robert Cohen/AP)
Mel Chin, Cross for the Unforgiven, 2002, AK-47 assault rifles (cut and welded), 54 x 54 x 3 inches, image posted with permission of the artist.
A Maltese cross of the Crusades, made from eight AK-47s, the international symbol of resistance to the West.
I’m headed back to Baltimore on train 185, the 8:10 that—when it arrives at 10:43, if it arrives at 10:43—will allow me 17 minutes to make my way across town to my 11:00 meeting. It’s a good thing everywhere in Baltimore is close. The plan is to be in a few different meetings in a few different rooms, talking to crowds of a few different sizes and a few different backgrounds. I’ll ask one question, “What do you love about Baltimore?” and I’ll get more than a few different answers. It’s in the asking and the answering that I learn what’s important to people, and there is something important to every person.
When we talk about what we love, it’s a way of measuring distance between each other. What we share love for (The Ravens!) shows how close we are, and what we differ on (Westport! Waverly!) shows how far apart we are. Of course this would be endless and exhausting in politics, but in art, it’s like sharing a fish sandwich. So we’ll chew the fat and we’ll choose the words that charm the city. That reminds me, why do they call it Charm City? I’ll ask.
Back at 72 Fourth Avenue we are making love and dealing with shit, like everybody else. Nine years ago, I doodled in pen on a wall “EVERYTHING IS SHIT Except you Love” and it made me laugh and cringe, which is the sign of a good sign. So I made a painting of it. The painting sold and and I was asked for another, so I painted another. Again and again I was asked and again and again I painted. It bears repeating, and it’s built like a record. It is my love song, my “Naive Melody”—I paint it like David sings it, in half despair and all devotion. And like the song, it’s a hit.
Hit songs get made into singles, hit paintings get made into prints: Mona Lisa, Starry Night, that Patrick Nagel painting of the white girl, and now “Everything Is Shit” prints are available to decorate your home or (in Patrick’s case) your hair salon. The first edition of the print sold out, people asked us to make another, and we made another. Again and again we were asked and again and again we printed. We invest love and effort and we give a shit about every print we make. We’ve created seven unique editions to date, and all in all there are 600 or so “Everything” prints in the world. If it was a record we would be going wood as opposed to gold, but as a print it is building an audience that loves and gives a shit about what I do, so it’s solid gold just the same.
So all that said, here is our latest edition, in two different colorways. The Purple edition is a 24” x 24” print in a signed and numbered edition of 50, printed on 334 gram Coventry Rag paper. it is $250 plus shipping. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing location and we’ll send you a Paypal invoice. The orange 12” x 12” edition will be released next week. If the work resonates with you and the ones you love, maybe you’ll get it. If you don’t want to spend the money, you have my blessing to print it out and pin it to your wall. If you’re looking for something to buy and flip, don’t buy my art, buy gold.
Love you, no shit,
Cameron Thompson, “Perched” September 5 - 30
Opening Reception: September 5, 6 - 10 pm
Painter, muralist, teacher, social activist — Oaklandbased artist Cameron Thompson, also known as Aware, has played many different roles throughout his multifaceted career in the arts over the past two decades. This September, he will present “Perched,” his first solo show at Loakal Art Gallery after being featured in April’s wildly popular live art show, “Carpe Diem.”
Featuring a new series of paintings and textile pieces, Thompson’s new body of work takes its inspiration from the artist’s desire to find balance in both his art and his life. To Thompson, the word “Perched” evokes a stable place from to look out and reflect. “[My work] focuses on being grounded and finding a balance in the hustle and rat race of everyday living… The meditation before taking flight,” he said. His graffiti monicker, Aware, is derived from a similar place of mindfulness.
With birds and animals as his primary subject matter, Thompson brings an abstract style to his figurative paintings. At times, the birds are refracted like the light coming through a glass prism, evoking the fractured imagery of Cubism. Thompson rounds out these forms with smooth, calligraphic line work. Repeating patterns are one of his visual signatures: As he breaks down his animal figures into their fundamental shapes, he turns them into tessellating forms that often come into play in his textile work. In other pieces, Thompson loses the rigidness of geometry, moving from a graphic style to loose, expressive brushstrokes.
Like many of Thompson’s murals, some of the paintings in the show take their inspiration from totem poles. The focus on animal subjects comes as much from Thompson’s Native American heritage as his personal life experiences. He was raised in Southern California by a mother who cared for a wide variety of exotic animals, and many of his early memories feature unusual creatures, from wolves to parrots. Thompson posits these depictions of the animal world within his decidedly urban style. He taps into a fantasy space between the woods and the concrete jungle where both nature and city life can coexist.