New mural on display at the Art Motel at Life is Beautiful festival. This will be open for all festival goers to see and interact with. Can’t wait to see this little dude pop up on instagram!
Last week was my birthday so I spent the morning painting a brand new mural at Grouchy Johns Coffee in Las Vegas, NV. This one is incredibly special to me and if you have a few minutes to spare, I’ll tell you why.
Back in 2012, my grandfather died and I didn’t leave my house for two weeks. You can read the full details in my previous blog post (CLICK HERE) and the genesis of Yerman, but suffice to say, I was experiencing the most profound sadness I’ve ever gone through.
After that two weeks, I began leaving my house periodically to work on The 80s Kids projects with my partner at the time at Grouchy Johns. I would go from my couch to Grouchy Johns right back to my couch again for quite a few weeks until I was able to gradually go to other places and assimilate to society again, best I knew how to.
Grouchy Johns has always held a special place in my heart for this reason, it allowed me to cope in a world that I wasn’t comfortable coping in and the owners have never been short of amazing to me. They welcome me with open arms every time I enter and no matter how much I try to throw money at them, they never let me pay and I wanted to give them a present on my birthday to not only say thank you but immortalize my grandfather and the period of mourning I went through after his passing.
To most, this mural probably just looked like a cute monster holding a coffee cup but to me it is so, so much more. The grey tones of his fur instead of his normal brown hue signify how greyed out my world was when I was coping. The happy coffee mug portrays how much I relied on the brew to jumpstart my brain waves again to feel creative and inspired and also the importance that Jacob had on helping me feel better during this time to make me feel like a human again best he knew how to. The phrase “Coffee Adds Color” is a cute phrase that to the viewer signifies the importance of that morning jolt to make you wake up and attack the day, but to me it was the coffee shop bringing me back to the real world.
I hope you enjoy the mural and I hope this explanation provides a bit of backstory as to why it means so much to me. If you get a chance, go check out Grouchy Johns, it’s located at 8520 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89123 and is often times voted Best Coffee Shop in Vegas. Have a brew with Yerman and tell them I sent ya!
When Jimi told me that he was utilizing Yerman in his therapy sessions, it was enough to make me cry. More recently however, I’ve been getting texts from people telling me they’re drawing their own monsters to cope with their depression. It amazes me that this little dude can inspire in others what he’s inspired in me. I discussed this in a bit more detail on a podcast this week if you would like to listen:
A few months ago, my buds in Priory (2013 Life is Beautiful alum) asked me to paint their lead guitar; a custom Telecaster. I was over the moon excited to work on this bad boy and after some long hours, it’s finally done! Brandon Rush will be bringing this on tour with him so be on the lookout for Yerman when Priory plays a town near you!
I used mostly acrylics with this one, but also utilized some glow in the dark ink so it’ll shine bright like a diamond on stage.
If you follow me on any social media network, I’m sure you’ve seen me post about #PLASTICSMILES. After a few people asking what this project is, it’s time to unveil a few images and speak about what the project is and how it came about.
A few months ago I did a talk with The Moth sponsored by The Clinton Foundation & Jed Foundation. I was flown out to New York and took part in a two day workshop series that helped individuals craft their stories. I was joined by Jay Stolar, Starshell, Karina Pasian and many others that have been affected by depression. It was an amazing time of self-discovery and healing and by the end of the program, we had all shared a journey that couldn’t be replicated. It was absolutely amazing and once the footage is sent over, I’ll be sure to share.
The day after the Moth talk, I was walking in the frigid New York streets and found respite in a Halloween shop while waiting for an Uber. While traversing the many wares, I found a mask in the basement that had been long forgotten. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to do a photoshoot with it; it was calling my name. As you can see in the picture above, it’s an oversized head of a mustachio-ed man with blue eyes and a head full of hair; a very generic man’s mask that could easily identify as anyone. A very ambiguous representation that allows the wearer to portray emotions through arm movements and body language. I immediately fell in love with what I could do with this adornment.
A few weeks later I was talking to my cousin, David Sivesind, and we planned a trip for him to come visit and shoot my band, MOONBOOTS‘, show at The Beauty Bar. Now, David is a prolific film photographer, his work primarily focuses on portraits shot in black and white, but he’s a true master at his craft. We discussed shooting all day Saturday with no real aim in mind, just get landscapes around Vegas mostly. Within the first hour of his arrival, the wheels were already in motion and I stopped dead in my tracks as I stared at the mask and the project came to life. I told him my idea and (luckily) he got it right away.
For the next two days, we focused on shooting pictures day and night. We were up until 5am trying to portray the isolation and loneliness that occurs when one goes through depression; the crippling sense of nothingness. The film carries the energy so well by adding darker tones and adding a graininess and blur that one with severe depression experiences.
I couldn’t be happier or more excited about this project and I’m so eager to share the images below. They turned out amazing there is so much happening behind the scenes. Full details on gallery, opening reception and more will be revealed in the coming weeks. I hope you can join us as we bring you PLASTIC SMILES.
My cousin Samantha just sent me the following message and it fully encapsulates what this project is so I’m putting it in quotes as though it’s a review because I love it so much:
I love the new project and think it’s awesome David is working with you. Depression is a weird thing. You can look fine but no one really know how you feel. We all wear masks and I think actually using one will have much impact. Good luck Cuz and I’m super proud of you.