Brussels was amazing. I have to thank my good friend Ephameron for this one, cause she hooked up the show.
here is Ephameron ‘drawing’ with tape
I met Epha 3 years ago when I was showing at Studio 14 in Rome, Italy. Epha has this amazing style. I have always been secretly jealous of people that can make every line count. I guess it is because I am a shitty when it comes to drawing. I can eventually get something to look right, but it takes 10 minutes of sketching and erasing before I get that one line that looks right. Ephameron on the other hand can make 4 strokes and have it look like a perfectly rendered object. I have a great deal of admiration for Epha. When I first met her, she was working at this skate shop and it seems like she was just starting to take off. In the past 3 years she has organized the Art Trek shows in Antwerp, came out with a book, and now is organizing multinational art shows. Oddly enough, when I arrived in Brussels I found out that she was having a show in Shanghai at the same time. I would meet her in China. 2 weeks after this show ended.
The Brussels show ended up being good, but it didn’t start out as good. I am normally super neurotic about packing, preparing and thinking of every minute detail of a trip, but this time I had a brain fart and screwed up royally. It all started because I needed to get a Visa for my upcoming trip to Shanghai. I went to the Chinese Embassy on a Friday and dropped everything off. You have to physically go down to apply for a visa in person. It is a pain in the ass, and you have to stand in a line that rivals the DMV lines. When you get to the front, you have to give them your application, your passport, hope that they approve you, and hope you get somebody that can speak English well enough to understand you if you have a question. Well, I dropped every thing off and crossed my fingers that everything would go through. After I left the embassy I went home to continue packing and preparing for my flight – which left on Sunday. Everything was going swimmingly until Saturday night at midnight when I realized that I had dropped of my passport to the Chinese Embassy to get the Visa. The same passport that I needed to get on my flight on Sunday. I was screwed. I had to cancel my ticket and hope that I could get my passport back on Monday, then hope I could get a flight on the same day, for a decent price, then leave for Brussels. Well, it all worked out in the end, but I must have lost 10 lbs stressing out over the whole thing. I had to go to the Chinese embassy 4 times on Monday to get my passport back. Then rushed home to get a ticket. The price only ended up being 200 dollars more than my original ticket, so all was good. Got the passport, got my luggage, got a ride to the airport, then off to Europe!
September, Tuesday 19th
Harlan at Lunch
I love it when there I someone there at the airport in foreign lands. I become anxious when I have to read bus routes, and subway maps, and figure out the language, and all the joys that go along with foreign travel. Harlan was the organizer and Nico was the owner of the Mr. Ego shop (http://mr-ego.be/) where the show was hosted.
Nico looking a bit odd
Ephameron conceived the line up for the show, but it was organized by Harlan Levey of the No New Enemies Network (nonewenemies.net). All the people involved were incredibly generous. On a side note, Harlan is also the editor of Modart Magazine which is an arts magazine that is geared towards the action sports / urban realm. It’s a good mag, so you should check when you get a chance.
Made it to the Mr. Ego shop and rendezvoused with Lucy McLaughlan and Ephameron. It was good to see them. Although I had not met Lucy before I had followed her work ever since hearing about it from friend Freddi C of The Lab 101(www.lab101.com) in Los Angeles. We went over a game plan for doing the upcoming days, grabbed something to eat, then I checked into the hotel to get some sleep.
September, Wednesday 20th
Today I made my way to the shop to finish hanging the show. The walk there was incredible. I had to go through this long atrium type of thing that had shops lining the inside. How in the world can you go wrong with a city that is known for Beer and Chocolate?? Seemed like beer shops and chocolate shops were every 50 ft. I made it to the shop eventually, but not before taking note for the decadent shops that dotted the trail. The other place that I had to go through was the City Hall. This place was beyond description. Before arriving in Brussels I had come across this article of the worlds most beautiful city halls. I had seen a picture of this building, but it doesn’t do the place any justice. If I was an architect in a previous life, this is the building that I would have created. This is one of the reasons that I love Europe. The richness of the architecture, the cobblestone streets, the character of the city. It has so many layers to it that I can spend hours just walking around places like this.
Here was the hallway that I had to walk through every day to get to the venue
Here was the city hall that was on the other end of the hallway
And these buildings were to the right of the city hall
When I arrived at the shop I hung my work and had a chance to chat w Lucy and Epha a bit more. Because I got into town a day late (because of the Chinese Visa fiasco) I was the last one to hang my work. Luckily because my work is mostly the same size, it went up pretty quick.
Hung the work, and then started on the Nike wall. The Nike wall was something that was worked out before I came over. At the time, Nike was doing the 360 campaigns, where they re-released the old Nike Air 180 shoes with the new 360 sole. They were sponsored the show financially, but wanted me to paint the wall where the shoes were to hang in exchange for the sponsorship money. I said no problem and had sent the Nike folks a few comps to sign off on. They saw them, said it looks good, and so I started cutting stencils. Because my work takes forever to cut, I needed a few weeks to cut the stencils. Well, after cutting for a week, I got an email from Nike saying ‘the comps you sent have nothing to do with the campaign; we need to do something different. The focus of the launch is ‘hybrid’, so you should think hybrid.”. Think Hybrid???? I have been busting my ass for a week cutting stencils and now they tell me it wont work? This was the first time I heard about the ‘hybrid’ concept. I was so pissed; I thought to myself, I’ll give them a hybrid. How about a fucking unicorn, that’s a hybrid, right?? I mean it is a horse and another animal, right? Or how about a fucking Pegasus??? That is a horse and a bird. How do you like that for a hybrid??? Well, I worded a very articulate email explaining the concept and fired it off. I ended the email with the question ‘have you ever met anybody that HATES unicorns?’ That was the clincher, they went for it! So here I was, in Brussels, with a can of paint and a stencil of a Unicorn. What have I gotten myself into?? I started on the wall, and it actually turned out pretty cool. I mean, as cool as a unicorn can be. Got about half way done then took off to lunch with Lucy and Epha.
The completed nike wall
Here are the steps inbetween
For lunch, we headed to a Thai Restaurant. I kept thinking that everything sounded like the beginning of joke, so, as we walked into the restaurant, in my head, I heard ” An American, and English man, and a Belgium walk into a Thai Restaurant”. No punch line, but every place we went afterwards kept reminding me of the beginning of a bad joke. We finished lunch then made our way to this public wall that Harlan had lined up for us to paint. I always mean to do more street/public stuff, but never seem to get around to it. This time, I had no excuse. We had this nice garage roll-down that we were to paint. It was on this quaint little alleyway off of a main street. The ivy chased the telephone lines across the alleyway, and it almost looked beautiful enough to make you forget that junkies shot up there every night.
Epha starting on the mural
Here is the completed mural
We painted the wall for a while, got some drinks, and back to the hotel to pass out from complete exhaustion.
September, Thursday 21st
I love streets like this
Today was a little more of the same. Got up. Finished hanging the prints and my art for the show, then wrapped up the Nike wall. Ahhhh finally finished the Nike wall. There is stood in all of its majestic unicornness. Took a break for lunch, then wrapped up the rolldown garage door. I was happy with the outcome. Had dinner and drinks then called it a night. Figured I may as well stay fresh for tomorrow night.
Lucy at Lunch
Me and Epha
September, Friday 22nd
Today was great. Got up early and started walking to the train station to meet my good friend Lesley Reppeteaux (www.reppeteaux.com) and her husband Robbie Bolick. I know Lesley from Los Angeles, but her and her hubby moved to Paris to live for 3 months. They took the train up for the show, and it was great to see them again. Lesley was one of my better friends in Los Angeles and the place hasnt felt the same since she skipped out of the country.
Met them as they got off of the train and we made it back to the hotel to drop their backpacks. We finally got to walk around the city a bit. Up to this point, all I had seen was the shop and the path between the shop and the hotel. We made our way from chocolate shop to chocolate shop buying gifts for those of ours back home.
We grabbed lunch at this street famous for its restaurants. We decided to order the snails.
In the evening we arrived at the Gallery where we had VIP opening. This was the beginning of the end of all of us. Chaz from The London Police (www.thelondonpolice.com) and Galo (www.galoart.net/) came down from Amsterdam for the opening. Any time those guys are in town no body stays sober.
Chaz looks pretty for the camera
Another person that I was happy to meet was Adeline of Street Player (www.streetplayer.net). I knew of Adeline through Epha because she had curated a show in Paris that featured Epha, Fafi, Swoon, Freaklub, and 123Klan. We had chatted a few times through email, but it is always good to put a face to the name. The downside to meeting her was that she was one of the only ones in our motley crew that didn’t drink. She had to watch the slow yet continual decline of our sobriety and intelligence.
Robbie, Lesley, and Adeline
As the night came to a close, I barely remember going back to the hotel. Lesley, Robbie and myself staggered home and at some point in the night Robbie decided to decorate the hotel with the remnants of his stomach. I slept through it all but woke up the next morning to see the carnage from the drunken escapade.
yeah, this is how the night went. Lesley couldn’t get enough of the beer
Drinking makes you do this
September, Saturday 23rd
Didn’t make it out of bed until around 1 in the afternoon because of the unfortunate decision the night before of drinking shots of whiskey and the massive quantities of Belgium beer. After dragging ourselves up and out of bed, we made it to get breakfast, and nurse our wounds. After a few hours we were mostly operational again and headed to the opening around 6. Unfortunately it was at this point that I realized that the opening wasn’t at night, but was from 1pm until 6pm. I made it into the opening to catch the last 5 minutes of my own opening. Lesson learned: don’t drink whiskey the night before your own opening.
For the rest of the day we took it easy, got dinner, and chilled out at Harlans house.
September, Sunday 24th
Today Lesley and Robbie had to head out, but before they did we did a bus tour around Brussels. It was a total tourist activity, but with so much ground to cover, we wanted to make sure we saw as much as we could. Got to see all the goofy stuff like the Atominum and some of the classic stuff like the architecture built by famed Art Nouveau Architect Victor Horta. Check out some of the stuff that this guy did: http://www.cupola.com/html/bldgstru/artnouv/artnouv1.htm
Here is the Horta House that we saw on the tour.
After the bus tour it was off to the Flea market where we managed to see more stuffed animals than one flea market should have. I don’t know why, but there were tons of taxidermy animals that looked like they had been discarded years ago. My favorite was the one that Lesley spotted of 3 squirrels playing poker. Yeah, classy stuff, huh?
After seeing Lesley and Robbie off I rested a bit before catching up Joanna Tsoni.
me and Joanna
Joanna is the Brand manager for Sabotaz Spraypaint (www.sabotazusa.com). I became the US Distributor for Sabotaz paint a few months ago, and have been in communication Joanna every since. Up until this point we had only talked through email, but Joanna flew up from Athens, Greece to talk things over seal the deal with a handshake. It was a gesture that was well appreciated on my end.
Joanna and I hit it off immediately. I have been thrilled to be the distributor or the Sabotaz line, and the fact that I was able to hear a bit more about the company me even more excited. It is a good feeling when you can stand behind the company that you are working with, and the folks at Sabotaz inspire confidence. The owner of the company is 27, and the brand manager is 24. I am the oldest geezer at 35. Don’t know how I feel about being the old fart, but not much I can do.
Joanna and I had lunch, and walked around and found these murals near the subway station. We ended up staying up all night talking about the potential of the Sabotaz and Workhorse empires merging forces. I went to sleep anxious to get back to the US and begin preparations for the first shipment of paint.
September, Monday 25th
Today I made my way to the airport with Joanna. As luck would have it, we were leaving around the same time, on different flights, so we shared the ride and chatted a bit more about things along the way. Although we said goodbye to each other, it was the type of goodbye where you feel like is more of a beginning than an ending. I left feeling great about being part of the Sabotaz team.
The only bad thing about the whole visa fiasco (see above entries) was that when I booked my new ticket, I neglected to look at the layover I had in Switzerland. After I got to Brussels, I noticed that I had a 16-hour layover before heading back to the US. Fuck. So I made my way to Switzerland to sit in a freaking airport for a full day before getting on a plane to sit for another 13 hours. This is the side of travel that I hate.
This was the extent of my Switzerland trip. From the airport to the hotel
Made it back to the US for a quick rest before leaving again. I had 4 days until I was off to Melbourne, and in those 4 days I had to make frames for, and spray out 20 pieces of art. It was more work heading back home that it was staying in Brussels. Busted my ass, got everything done, and then headed to Melbourne.
Here are a few pics that I had to be included
That was the end of Brussels