american rent is due

Forty miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona just before entering the Diné nation and the Painted Desert sits a motel abandoned since 2005. The motel was built originally in the 1950s and as postcards from the 1980s advertised “…Our Gray Mountain motel is the Gateway to the Grand Canyon.”

Having fallen into a state of disrepair on a highway heavily used by motorists from the Navajo nation and around the world the Painted Desert Project invited Phoenix based artist Thomas “Breeze” Marcus to assemble a crew of artists to envision the space differently.

Former Whiting Bros motel at Gray Mountain, AZ

The crew included:

  • Vyalone – Zuni, Raramuri, Chicano
  • Breeze – Tohono O’odham / Adimel O’odham / Ponca / Otoe
  • Douglas Miles – Apache
  • Jerrel Singer – Diné
  • LivA’ndrea Knoki – Diné

They assembled November 16 – 20, 2020 just before the temperature dropped and snow fell to paint socially distanced and masked for the Painted Desert Project.

“American Rent is Due” – Douglas Miles with irie_n8tiv + Kayla Walker


Douglas Miles
Douglas Miles
Liv + Douglas
Live with self-portrait Yaas queen

Her name? Bond. Sage Bond – metal musician
Mural detail – Breeze
Mural detail – Vyalone

Overview – photo by Breeze
Douglas Miles, LivA’ndrea Knoki, Jerrel Singer, Vyalone and Breeze

Vyalone + Sage Bond
At the Little Colorado River Gorge overlook

  9 comments for “american rent is due

  1. James
    December 9, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    Very interesting project; and the artwork is phoenominal. The message…hmmm. Does anyone really believe that Native American tribes were completely peaceful to each other, and never fought wars between tribes or had land disputes before Europeans came here? The assertion “American Rent is Due” is nonsensical victim mentality, and it denies centuries of history that occurred before European settlement of the North American continent. I’m not saying it was “right”. It was how mankind, nearly all of mankind, operated at the time. Until someone invents a time machine, it cannot be changed. Looking back and trying to blame people alive now, for things that happened hundreds of years ago (or far do you want to go back?) is not healthy or just.


    • jetsonorama
      December 9, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      Hi James. Thank you for the feedback. I think the “American Rent is Due” sentiment is akin to the movement of native tribes trying to get land back. The Bears Ears in the Four Corners is a good example of this. However, rather than speak for the artist who wrote this I can connect you with him directly if you’d like.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Maria Dantos
    December 27, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    I would like to be connected with the artist directly to speak about collaboration.


    • jetsonorama
      December 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Maria,

      Season’s Greetings. The lead artist on this project is Thomas Breeze Marcus who can be reached at I’ll let him know to look out for an email from you. Have a great 2021.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. John Heiland
    June 1, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    The project makes me feel like I got to hear from a community I have passed through before without getting to connect with. It looks like a reclamation of place and it gave me hope for life.


    • jetsonorama
      June 1, 2021 at 4:05 pm

      thank you for taking the time to check everything out and for taking a moment to share those thoughts.


  4. Verne
    April 15, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    I felt this was a powerful message on what has become a landmark structure driving through the Navajo reservation, an area of concentrated poverty. This plus the story my Navajo guide in the slot canyons told me of her upbringing has led me to make a pledge to donate a set dollar amount to an Indian led nonprofit every time I hear someone make a land acknowledgement. I hear these often at conferences I go to, and although I appreciate the gesture, it feels like white guilt and wokeness that does nothing to address the problems facing Indian nations today. I didn’t directly cause the horrors white settlers and the American government inflicted on native peoples but my white ancestors did and I have to do more than just acknowledge that history. I call this taking a LAP (Land Acknowledgement Pledge). So far I’ve only taken one LAP (my wife was at a conference recently and they made a land acknowledgement) but with things opening back up, I hope to take more LAPs soon.


    • jetsonorama
      April 15, 2022 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you for sharing this message Verne. It’s an interesting thing. I’m African-American and have been living and working on the Navajo nation since 1987. I started my outdoor art project in 2009. This past summer I did a project at Fort Garland in southern Colorado on Native enslavement which as a person of African descent resonated with me. The 8th + 9th Cavalries of the Buffalo Soldiers were stationed at this fort from 1875 to 1879. I approached the museum director about doing a deep dive exhibition on the Buffalo Soldiers; they consented. In reading about them I get some idea of the position present day Anglos are in – not feeling responsible for the sins of the past yet knowing they were committed by your ancestors and trying to figure out how to move forward. I don’t want to follow the quotidian narrative of presenting the Buffalo Soldiers as heroes but am thinking the focus should be on those examples from 140 years ago where there were examples of Native and Black cooperation and collaboration. We’ll see where this goes.

      Thank you again.


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