Category: Uncategorized

NPR’s Morning Edition “Listen” ad

npr’s new “fully awake” ads:

full 30 second spot:


Discussion from Facebook with my friend and activist Lane Hall regarding working with commercial entities and the dangers one may not have considered in contributing to the society of the spectacle…

Lane Hall I love your work – the roadside stands, the water towers, homages to the people involved in the area. I love your amazing facility with images, especially close-ups. I am happy for you with this NPR opportunity, but not sure about it. It makes me uneasy, just as the requests for OLB as advert (regardless of the affiliation) has done the same (which we haven’t pursued as a general policy)… I do respect that you must have done some soul searching to do this, and came out with it as a personal positive, so am not saying this to rain on the parade here, but it really does change your work!

me:  lane, thanks so much for your feedback. interestingly, i’m at “into action” in l.a. this weekend where the feeling of being a sell out is exacerbated. one of the factors that led to my agreeing to take part in this project is the consent of all the people photographed who for the first time were reimbursed for the use of their imagery. while i see the npr project as a one off opportunity i will continue doing the work i’ve been doing for marginalized communities.
Lane:  thanks for the response. I was hesitant to write what I did, because I don’t want it to seem a critique or accusation of “sell out.” Indeed, I think that such a term is ridiculously low on nuance. I am more concerned about how such a corporate sponsor repositions the work, and not just that specific work, but the work that leads up to it, and indeed, continues. Of course, repositioning happens with everything – gallery shows, museum shows, more “grassroots” sponsorships than NPR… all of those bring baggage.
Lane:  But I do want to be clear in my appreciation for all that you are doing. You can’t imagine how much your work inspires me, even, and especially, in these dark times!
me:  interestingly, i don’t get to have this conversation with folks and am appreciative of the opportunity. i’m sure there are others who identify me as a sell-out but who haven’t shared it. in this ad npr was looking for inclusivity and representation of communities frequently overlooked and/or whose representation in media is negative. as a morning edition listener i was happy to get the opportunity as my photography has always been about challenging mainstream narratives. whenever i get money from my art related projects i use that money to bring artists to the reservation to create art. this includes indigenous artists. having no other paying projects lined up this year this too was a factor in deciding to do the ad as it’ll allow me to continue the painted desert project. and as i mentioned before it helps that the people photographed were into it. 
Lane:  Great to hear about the feedback loop regarding funding going back into community projects. 
NPR is a strange one…. it seems to have gotten more and more corporate and “let’s hear both sides” as a kind of false narrative of balance, yet at times it is exceptional. It is especially important in non urban communities (used to keep me sane as a carpenter working in non-urban areas). Have you thought of trying to do fundraisers that would go directly into Painted Desert Project Funds for “scholarships” to bring in artists? I just followed Radical Mycology’s funding to start a school (online) in Portland… man, they did really well… made their goal (65k) in three days, ended with twice that!

me:  i wish i had the time to pursue seeking nonprofit status and to do fundraising and grants. as a one person operation working a 40 hour a week job whose primary passion is just getting work up i can’t do it all. sadly, i’ll have more time to pursue this once i retire but i’lm no longer be living on the reservation. with regard to the ad, i wish it’d been for “democracy now” or “free speech tv” but alas, it was npr. i guess the question is if i were given the opportunity to do this again, would i? at this point i don’t know. 

Lane Hall Thank you for not taking offense. I should be clear (for other commenters) about how much your work means to me.

me:  Lane, talk more about how doing this project with NPR and the ad agency changes the work.

Lane Hall When your work is an image of a person that you know, and it is independently applied to a structure in the area you live, it has a quality of completeness… it has no other need than itself, it indexes nothing but its own visibility, that of the person, the location, the action of making visible. This would be true even if you came to my community and worked with people here, it would simply be a different relationship. However, when your work is part of a sponsored campaign of visibility for a function like NPR, it becomes indexical, pointing both to itself, but also to NPR. In such a system, the sponsoring entity pays to have the aura of your authenticity glow onto them. They are paying for your energy, in a very real sense. The primary index (work as a means to itself) can get lost in the secondary index (work as a means towards NPR’s identity campaign). This isn’t a horrible thing, as they in turn give you energy (money) that you can use for further projects, but this is how it changes the work. The work shifts in “ends and means” terms… from an end in itself towards a means to some other agency’s ends. You become absorbed into their spectacle, to put it in Situationist terms…
me:  again, thanks for this. by extension of this argument any work that isn’t context/place based loses authenticity. for example, the image of stephanie that i pasted in reno that came from a campaign to raise awareness about a sacred site in flagstaff is also inappropriately used?

Lane Hall I didn’t say anything about “appropriate” or “inappropriate” use, merely that these things change the location of the work’s meaning. The example you give above seems very consistent with the intentions of your work. The sacred site (example) is quite different than a large corporation (even a not-for-profit). Using my “double indexing” idea, the large corporation’s needs begin to eclipse the imagery itself (hence, the “absorption into spectacle”) while the sacred site awareness campaign is deeply connected to the imagery (a much closer relationship) and doesn’t absorb the image into spectacle. But I don’t know, what do you think? Does it feel different?

Lane Hall btw… we collaborate with small social justice groups all the time… even larger ones like 350, MTEA, etc… so I think about this a lot. It might well be that the benefits for a project like NPR far exceed the tradeoffs… in a good way beyond $$, such as visibility for other projects, helping you build a reputation beyond what you already have, which in turn, helps all other less visible projects… these are all judgements that we, as artists, are fortunate to be able to make!

me:  dude, thank you again for engaging me in this conversation. it’s all a learning experience.
Lane Hall is a Milwaukee, WI based artist, activist and mycology enthusiast who is cultivating and foraging mushrooms.  He founded the activist organization Overpass Light Brigade (  More information can be found about their work here:
“be the change” =
“enbridge line 5” =
Test markets for the “fully awake” spot include Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Austin and Philly.

Broken Boxes Podcast Show – Santa Fe, NM

From the Form + Concept website regarding the Broken Boxes Podcast show

Broken Boxes features the art and ideas of over 40 visual artists, filmmakers, sound artists, activists, performance artists and community organizers from around the world who are effecting change through their work. The show is co-curated by Ginger Dunnill and Cannupa Hanska Luger, and all invited artists have participated in an interview on Dunnill’s Broken Boxes Podcast over the past 2 years.

“This is a celebration for the artists who have contributed their time and energy to the Broken Boxes exhibition,” says Dunnill. “Their work continues to lift up our communities and sustain our growth and vibrancy as human beings.”

The show runs from August 18 – October 21, 2017 at Form + Concept Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.

“Meditation on a cloth signifier”


Breeze + Ian Kuali’i


Ian Kuali’i creating a paper cut portrait.


Winona LaDuke with Keri Pickett who made the documentary “First Daughter and the Black Snake.” The film follows environmentalist Winona LaDuke as she fights to block an Enbridge pipeline threatening sacred wild rice watersheds and her tribe’s land in northern Minnesota. The “Prophecy of the 7th Fire” says a “black snake” will bring destruction to the earth. We will have a choice of two paths. One is scorched, and one is green. For Winona (Ojibwe for “first daughter”), the “black snake” is oil trains and pipelines. When she learns that Canadian-owned Enbridge plans to route a new pipeline through her tribe’s 1855 Treaty land, she and her community spring into action to save the sacred wild rice lakes and preserve their traditional indigenous way of life.  The Broken Boxes Podcast show opening coincided with Winona’s birthday.


Traditional dancers at Indian Market.

full circle


eu amo o brasil!

big shout out to raul zito, photographer and wheat paste artist in sao paulo, brasil.  i’ve been following his work on various street art blogs and learned through flickr he’s been following mine as well.  here’s an example of his work in sao paulo.


he and i got in touch with one another late 2010 and he offered to get a piece of mine up in sao paulo.  the piece isn’t finished yet but here’s what he’s done so far.  i absolutely love it.  he put me beside magrela mag who did the piece on the second apartment in the first photo (up top).  sweet!  i love the way jamaal is flying into the mama bird’s mouth, through the basketball hoop while the beautiful, nude woman checks it all out.  wicked piece!

stay tuned.  he’ll be getting files of his to me soon to paste here.  how cool is that?!



rain dance…

it never fails.  whenever i do a big installation, it rains.  such was the case last week and this weekend in phoenix.  so after a week, stephanie’s photo on the billboard, the collab with breeze, is already starting to come down.  one week later.  that hurts.  steve, julia’s husband and partner in managing the hive, said he’d try to paste her back up.  i left some wheat paste with him that had started to turn sour.  yum.

meanwhile, i met niba yesterday.  he’s a photographer who is based in tucson, i think.  it was one of those moments when virtual reality becomes real and you meet someone from your social networking sites.  in truth, i thought niba, also known as “dead now” on twitter was a woman.  o well.  instead, he’s a great guy with 2 beautiful children.  here are some of his images from yesterday’s installation.  thanks niba!

i mentioned above that raul zito of sao paulo pasted one of my pieces in sao paulo.  i returned the favor + pasted one of his images in phoenix.  what comes around…

shout out to the british two tone movement

with miguel


kicking it with breeze + erin gramzinski


July 9, 2017

I don’t often read posts from back in the day when I started pasting especially posts found on my Blogspot site. (I miss that url –, aka “yo mama.”) It’s fun seeing my enthusiasm for everything about the art form.  In this case it’s especially exciting to read through these posts from early 2011 to reflect on how long I’ve been aware of Zito’s work and to remember that dreams can come true.  He’ll be coming to the rez in just under a month.  Full circle.  Yay!



American Domain

Humanist and documentary photographer Dan Budnik is best known for his black and white photography from the civil rights era.  It was Dan’s photo of Dr. King that appeared on the cover of Time magazine when Dr. King was assassinated.  After covering the civil rights movement from 1964 – 66 Dan gradually made his way to northern Arizona where he’d heard of a longstanding land dispute between Navajo + Hopi tribes.  In 1984 the dispute resulted in approximately 9000 of 180,000 Navajo tribal members being  forcibly relocated from ancestral land where they were primarily sheep and cattle herders in exchange for life in prefabricated homes.  Sadly, many of the people relocated didn’t have the income to cover utilities as they’d formerly made their livelihood from their animals.  Many found themselves homeless.  However, a group of elders refused to leave their ancestral homeland and to this day continue to protest forced relocation.
Dan’s images of the land dispute generated interest in a documentary film on the subject titled “Broken Rainbow” which won an Academy Award in 1985 for best documentary.  As noted on the promo poster for the film “There is no word for relocation in the Navajo language; to relocate is to disappear and never been seen again.”
I was asked recently by curator Erin Elder to consider submitting work for a pop up show critically evaluating land use in a capitalist economy (for the Museum of Capitalism in Oakland).  She says of her portion of the show titled American Domain “…Under capitalism, land is measured, marked, bounded, guarded, and owned; it is a commodity, a site of production, and oftentimes, capitalism’s dumping ground. Though land ownership is not an inherently American phenomenon, the United States was founded on a land grab and its identity has been consistently wrapped up with the economics of territory. Through artists’ work about fences and walls, boundaries and their trespass, American Domain examines notions of property and ownership.”
Dan’s images from his time at Big Mountain immediately came to mind.  I approached him about using one of his images for an installation and found him to be excited by the idea.  Next I sought out a part time resident of Big Mountain whose mother was active in the relocation resistance.  We agreed that in light of the ongoing struggles of First Nations people to maintain sovereignty over their land this image is as timely now as it was when it was taken circa 1984 and he consented to its use.
The United States Flag Code
Title 4, Chapter 1
The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
Installing the image over a week in Oakland led to several insightful moments such as the police officer who pointed out the flag was upside down as he passed in his cruiser or the fireman who stopped his firetruck, got out and engaged me in conversation about the photo.  The most compelling interaction was with a vet who vehemently proclaimed one evening while I was on the lift that he fought for that flag and didn’t appreciate seeing it upside down.  He concluded by saying “Trump 2017!”  Two days later he returned and shared that after 8 years of combat in Afghanistan seeing things no one should ever see he now suffers from PTSD, sleeps poorly and can’t hold a job.  Things set him off easily and he has trouble controlling his emotions.  He said he’d gone into service believing in this country and it’s promise of democracy both here and abroad only to realize he’d wasted 8 years of his life and is a changed man.  He apologized for his aggressive tone 2 days earlier and cried as he recounted some of his life experiences.  I thanked him for returning and providing an opportunity for discussion.  We shook hands and embraced before he headed on his way.
man carrying items to recycling center at dawn
shaking hands with the vet                      photo by claudia escobar

photo by claudia escobar
Brooklyn Street Art article is here.
For more information on this ongoing struggle, check


Dan Budnik is a Flagstaff based photographer who first came to this region in the 70s to photodocument forced relocation of Navajos living on “Hopi Partition Land” on Black Mesa.  It was his documentation of the conflict that led to the 1985 Academy Award winning documentary “Broken Rainbow” which examines coal exploitation and the origins of the Navajo – Hopi tribal government conflict.  His images from that period are compelling.  It’s the type of up close + personal, black + white photography that I grew up seeing in Life Magazine.  The imagery reflects Dan’s time commitment to telling a story truthfully and the trust the people he was photographing had in him.




Stinkfish poster with MLK criminal justice reform posters.


Collaboration with fellow Justseeds printmaker + activist, Thea Ghar.

I first met Dan maybe 3 years ago; however, it wasn’t until he had a show of black + white, silver gelatin prints and color photos at a small restaurant in Flagstaff in May of 2015 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery that Dan got my attention.  I wanted to know what a photographer of his caliber was doing in northern Arizona.  He told the story of going to the Navajo nation in the 70s and falling in love with the people and the land.  I stopped him at this point and told him he didn’t need to elaborate.  I got it.  The show was worthy of being held in any gallery in any city in the world.  I’m not exaggerating.  Though Dan is a humble, gentle spirit, his talent as a photographer is exceptional.  It was his image of  Dr. King that appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in April 1968 when Dr. King was killed.

King by Dan Budnik

I’m proud as hell to be able to say Dan Budnik is my friend.  Last year we’d hoped to collaborate on a project in Selma where I’d install some of his images from the Selma to Montgomery march on abandoned store-fronts in downtown Selma.  However, the bureaucracy to realize this dream was insurmountable.  Instead, Dan let me use an image of marcher Frederick Moss for an installation in Brooklyn.  (Yeah, Brooklyn.  I like the unintentional symbolism of a black man on his back in the street holding an American flag. This time last year there were several black men on their backs in the street.)  When Dan shot the image of Frederick Moss, Mr. Moss was simply exhausted after a grueling 5 day, 54 mile demonstration and laid down in a vacant spot to rest.

I wanted to pay tribute to my friend by getting the Frederick Moss image up in his adopted home of Flagstaff, AZ.




Toren at Moenkopi Wash

Hózhó – a word that defines the essence of Navajo (Diné) philosophy. It encompasses beauty, order, harmony + expresses the idea of striving for balance.

gamma goat to the rescue




The Navajo nation has an unemployment rate at about 50%.  While the tribe is pursuing investment and job opportunities much of the land under consideration for development is contaminated with uranium from over 500 uncapped mines which deters businesses from investing.  The companies who abandoned the mines in the 60s + 70s when the price and demand for uranium dropped aren’t legally bound to clean up their sites per mining laws from the 1800s when prospectors were mining for precious minerals.

Concerned with the possibility of accidental contamination by wandering into abandoned mine sites the EPA created a coloring book for grade school kids on the rez.  The star is “Gamma Goat” who introduces himself saying “That’s right.  I’m named after the most powerful form of radiation given off by uranium, gamma rays.  I know how to stay away from areas where radiation may harm me and I’m here to teach you, your friends and family how to be safe too.”  Meanwhile, contamination continues to affect the land, water, animals and humans.


jc at the white house


spirit line

jc at coconino center for the arts



thanks to travis iurato for arranging the wall.


Colibri Center for Human Rights



















“Security is the denial of life. Love is what enables us to cross borders.” – Robin Reineke, founder of Colibri Center for Human Rights – whose work this collaborative #mural is based off of. Colibri Center for Human Rights does the fierce forensic and beautiful work of reuniting with families the remnants of the resilient migrants who die in their journey across the border. When the wheat paste bones peel off, it will reveal a human carrying her child driven by an undefeatable love that drives her to transcend borders. Here I’m wheatpasting the last wing bone for Chip Thomas who sized and put together the whole skeleton and whom I learned to #wheatpaste from. This mural could not have been possible without the love and creativity from the local Phoenix arts community who wanted to bring the illumination of migrants to the forefront and honor the dead. This is only 1/5 of a massive Mural collaboration with artists including Karlito Miller Espinosa Thea Gahr, @theallelectrickitchen, Julius Badoni, Lucinda Yrene and Lalo Cota and so many more people. The full reveal will be tomorrow. thank you Phoenix, you have been brighter than I could’ve ever imagined.

— with Jess Chen.

%d bloggers like this: