Tag Archives: James Swinson

“Not one Less”

James Swinson and I made this piece at the end of December 2019. Shortly thereafter, the Pandemic hit and we never posted it. The title refers to the Hong Kong protestor’s 5 demands and “not one less”. Unfortunately, the pandemic put the struggle of Hong Kongers on the back burner internationally. But In December of 2019, that fight was still weighing on me. Hong Kong is like, well… Hong Kong is Hong Kong and it isn’t “like” anything else. In a world where cities increasingly become a homogeneous blur, Hong Kong remains a unique hybrid that stands alone, for good and for bad. It is neither Britain nor China but rather the unlikely result of an unlikely series of events. I can’t say exactly what it is to me; it’s draw, it’s seductive nature, the almost unimaginable quality of it’s existence, but somehow it always makes it’s way back into my consciousness. For my girlfriend Rachel, Hong Kong is some magical place of origin that existed before America perverted that reality. For me and my best friend Moy, it is our happy place (if there is such a thing). I was suppose to move there for a while in 2020. Those plans were obviously interrupted. So it becomes that “what if” scenario that haunts me. What if the pandemic hadn’t come? What if the Chinese security law hadn’t been passed? What if this last bastion of originality simply fades and becomes another engineered product of China, like Shenzhen, like Dongguan? What if? I suppose the world will keep spinning, but be a bit less sweet, with a bit less joy and a lingering sense of loss.

As for the piece… I tried to convey this beautiful cacophony of a city being bound by ropes. Additionally James and I placed a petrol bomb in a cage, as the security law essentially outlaws dissidents. Finally the piece is covered with keys to represent the displacement that will inevitably occur in Hong Kong. The loss of home. Keys are of no use when you are never going home.
My faith and hope remains in Hong Kong. I am not a Hong Konger, I am an outsider. One day I hope to be back there and I hope “there” is the same. Hong Kong, in my mind, is too precious to lose, but China is too big to stop and the United States has been resigned to being an impotent participant in these affairs. I am reminded of a quote by Hong Kong Filmmaker Wong Kar Wai. “We love what we can’t have, and we can’t have what we love.”

“Not one less” Mixed media on found door.
31 x 81 inches (79cm x 206cm)

Available HERE

Socially Distanced Collaborations

These works are from a group of collaborations I did during quarantine with painter James Swinson. I was in Oakland and James was in Southern California. We would send the pieces back and forth by mail adding or changing them. Generally when James and I collaborate we are together in the same physical space, working simultaneously, so this process was completely different. The surprising thing, for both of us, was the palette. We both regularly tend toward muted colors and somehow this time both of us did the opposite. With each iteration the pieces kept getting brighter. I think we used color to compensate for all that was lacking during quarantine, the world outside seemed muted enough. Subconsciously we both went in this direction literally replacing some of the vibrancy that was gone from out lives with color. This was our optimism, literally looking on the bright side. As for the effectiveness of that remedy, I can say it worked. the world did not flip back to normal but my mental state definitely improved while making these. I was a bit catatonic for much of this past year, as many of us were. I felt I was biding my time. Making these pieces, changed one specific thing in me: It made me want things again. At some point during the past year I just shut down, I wanted nothing, I was doing very little. Making art has always been the magical elixir for whatever ails me and as much as I know that, it is a lesson I have to relearn quite often.

These are available on my website HERE

First Friday Afterparty September 3rd JLS

Express Gallery is proud to present a First Friday After Party.
Come join us this Friday, Sept. 3rd for a celebration of the best of the greater East Bay’s established and emerging art. Featuring the music of Dj Platurn of the Oakland Faders and Marc Stretch of Foreign Legion as well as live art by Ras Terms, Brett Amory, Safety First and Eon75. The Express Gallery opens it’s doors at 6PM
and will go late into the night with beverages provided by Trumer Pils. The Express Gallery and the current “Decade With No Name” showcase are proudly sponsored by: fiftyseven-thirtythree, East Bay Express, Spoke Art and Warholian.com

Our friends at the Oakbook have a great show up with local artist Daniel Healey just down the way from Express Gallery, they’re open on Friday from 6PM-9PM, so be sure to check them out as well!

Participating Artists:
Mike Shine
Gats
Brett Amory
Aaron Nagel
Amanda Lopez
Annie Vought
Eddie Colla
Scott Hove
Lea Bruno
Skinner
Owen Cook
Zoltron
Alika Cooper
Ras Terms
Monica Canilao
Dave Correia
Jason Vivona
Deth P. Sun
John Felix Arnold
Brenda Monroe
James Swinson
John Coyne
Meagan Donegan
Emory Douglas
& Hangar 18 Print Showcase

A decade with no name

fiftyseven-thirtythree and the East Bay Express are Proud to present 2 Major Art exhibits at this year’s “Best of the East Bay” Party. “A Decade will no name”, Bay area art from the first 10 years of a new century, and “If these walls could Talk” Live Aerosol art.

As the aughts come to a close and we approach the dawn of a new decade we are collectively faced yet again with a challenge we may have not even completed these last ten years. As the scope, breadth and reach of technology and information expand at exponential proportions with every passing day, their affects on one of the country’s most ethnically and culturally diverse areas cannot go unnoticed… especially amongst the state’s highest percentage of people per capita who list their occupation as “artist”.

A multi-disciplinary look into the works currently being created in our collective backyard, “The Decade With No Name” serves as a celebration of the sculptors, painters, photographers and street artists who call Oakland, Berkeley and the greater East Bay their home.

From the the three-dimensional monstrous cake sculptures of Scott Hove, to Brett Amory’s figurative paintings, Amanda Lopez’ Dia de los Muertos photographs, the politically and socially inspired street art of Eddie Colla, Monica Canilao’s found object installations and Emory Douglas’ historical Black Panther graphic agitation, this showcase serves as a veritable who’s-who of the East Bay’s emerging and established artist community.

Join us during the East Bay Express’ “Best of the East Bay” party, Friday, August 6th as we celebrate the arts in Oakland’s historic Jack London Square. With a massive gallery space located right across from the concert’s main stage, as well as a sixty foot-long wall of live aerosol murals by Bay Area legends Chor Boogie, Apex and Eon75 occurring during the event, this is one party, and an art show, that you’re not going to want to miss.

Participating Artist’s “A decade with No Name”
Mike Shine, GATS, Brett Amory, Aaron Nagel, Amanda Lopez, Emory Douglas, Skinner, Eddie Colla, Scott Hove, Peter Gronquist, Owen Cook, Zoltron, Alika Copper, Ras Terms, Monica Canilao, David D’Andrea, Dave Correia, Jason Vivona, Deth P. Sun, John Felix Arnold, Brendan Monroe, James Swinson, John Coyne, Meagan Donegan, Lea Bruno, Annie Vought and Hangar 18 Print Showcase.

Participating Artist’s “If These Walls Could Talk”
Chor Boogie, Apex, Eon75, Dabs & Myla, Surge