Monday, April 08, 2013

New Sacred Streets Website

New website now up, dedicated solely to Sacred Streets! Go to and subscribe to the RSS feed there to get all updates about Sacred Streets!

Thank you to Norma Santamaria for your beautiful design
Thank you to Steven Reynolds for your web design
Thank you to Adam Hillyer for your video work
Thank you to Nicole Leever and Olivia Blinn for your photography

Saturday, March 23, 2013

John, Portrait Session #1

John's dream is to go to culinary school and become a chef or a butler. He loves to help meet people's needs. After talking with for a few minutes, prior to this portrait, I knew it was an anomaly that he was living on the streets. He is a kid, like me, who has dreams and visions of what could be and what should be. He just needs a little push to get him back off these city streets and onto the highway. I am hoping this portrait experience is part of that push and encouragement he needs.

John loves to read, but unfortunately he is given a hard time from the other folks living there with him. The first thing that came to mind when thinking of a composition that would reference these orthodox icons, my mind immediately flashed to the particular way in which books were held in these old icons. So we set up his pose with book in hand very intentionally that day...

San Julian, looking toward URM, the site of the show, May 9th.

Holding his book like an old icon painting

Highlights of the portrait being scratched in with a blade.

This drawing in process is being done on... well, whatever this piece of wood is, that I found on the side of the road. I will come back for another session tomorrow to finish up the portrait with John. There will be more wood pieces added to the bottom so you will be able to see the book in hand. Really have been loving this one.

All photo credit for this day goes very thankfully out to Nicole Leever.

Just over ONE DAY LEFT on the Kickstarter and still trying to make it to $10,000! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Angelo Delaney Jackson, A Poet on Skid Row

Angelo Delaney Jackson is a quiet soul. At first, intimidating in his silent, large stature. But if you stay beyond that impression, you find a joyful spirit is found in the crevices of his daily life. Angelo has a complex family life, but treads through the passages of living on the streets with his written songs and poetry. A weathered lyricist, Angelo's rhythmic words, spun with acapella melodies place you in a small circle of hope even whilst sitting on the sidewalk of crack alley on Skid Row. He has been writing for a long time now, trying to work towards an album, even while living on the streets. I loved hearing how he had ambitions and dreams even while in the midst of his situation.

The symbol in the top right is a tattoo he has on his cheek. It is Hebrew for "Jehovah." Most Orthodox icons have symbols like this, telling who the person is or something about them, often stylized as shown below.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Finished Piece: Steve Flath

This is an old chair that I found in that empty field where Steve lives. He got good use out of it, but it was pretty broken down when I got my hands on it. I will replace this chair that I took with a new one for him.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Skid Row Portrait #3: James G. Gutter Jr.

James has been without a home for 30 years and is originally from Louisiana. It seemed he was the boss around that part of town as everyone was constantly asking him for questions and advice. Before i began drawing he said, "Oh, wait, let me get my real hat on."After drawing James' portrait, we set up his tent together as it began to lightly rain there on 5th Street. 


He told me his last name really was Gutter.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Portraits On Skid Row

After years of contemplation, planning, and over-planning, I finally decided to just grab some basic materials, get in my car, and go. I've been trying to figure out how I could possibly use art with the homeless community for a long time now and I wanted a concrete plan of how I was going to go about it. But for some reason, I could never get a solid plan of execution. All I could picture was sitting there on the street with them and talking to them while I drew their portrait. I thought I could come up with something better than this before going, but the grand plans I wanted to reach, just weren't coming. So finally I was so fed up with doing nothing, I decided to just take a leap of faith and go.

conte and charcoal on found wood

Thomas (detail no.1)

                                                                                        Thomas (detail no.2)

charcoal on found wood

Luis (detail no.1)

These portraits are the result of that first experimental trip. I got to sit with these two guys for a couple hours each and talk with them as I studied their faces and translated them onto these found pieces of wood. I didn't even have to ask them if I could draw their portraits. I was walking around San Julian street with all my materials, looking for a place to sit down and offer free portraits, and before I could find a good place, the man in the top images stopped me to ask what I was doing with all the paper, wood, and drawing tools under my arms. I told him I was going to draw portraits of the people around the streets. Immediately, he asked me "could you draw my portrait?"

I said yes.

The second man saw the hand scribbled sign under my arm that said, "Free Portraits." After I was a few feet past him, he said in my direction, "Free portraits?" I stopped and turned around. "Yeah," I said, "Free Portraits."

During the process I had several people in the homeless community stop and watch for a while. They would look on in amazement and ask me where I was from, if I was coming back, and if I could draw them too. It was so encouraging and I could hardly believe that it was happening-- my visions were becoming a reality and all I had to do was go. 

These reclaimed pieces of wood were seen as junk before they were salvaged and turned into art. The men were able to watch and be a part of this process of redeeming and ennobling. I was able to talk about how God does this with our lives too. He takes what most people would say is invaluable and not worth it, and he turns it into something valuable, beautiful, and cherished.

Steve With His Eyes

I have been spending time with Steve lately as it has been a little easier to find him in his regular spot here in La Mirada. We sat together the other day and I asked if I could draw his eyes. So we sat together in that lot and I looked at his eyes for about 15 minutes while talking with him.

Steve With His Eyes 2012