Feb 29, 2020

Children's Portrait 55-56- Cinthya & Kids

Just did a new family portrait of my good friend Cinthya and her babies who are not so little anymore. The family loves nature and I decided to combine that with their favorite colors. Several years ago I painted her oldest child Tlanextli. Check out the painting process below.

If you'd like a portrait painted of your child or family. Click this LINK

Base Color
Final Painting w/ highlights

I've been painting these original pieces of art for families since 2013. If you didn't see the previous children's portrait of Mila & Zenzi, go HERE.

Black Is Beautiful 2020 - Uncle Jamm's Army

The first time I heard the name "Uncle Jamm's Army" was in 2005. I was reading "Can't Stop Won't Stop" by Jeff Chang. They mentioned in the book and in the accompanying Dj D-Sharp mixtape. The Army is one of the most influential DJ crews in Los Angeles, California, and the US. Originally called Unique Dreams Entertainment, the crew was founded by DJ/promoter Roger Clayton. The crew would only consist of a handful of members at that time including Dr Funkenstein, Bobcat, Gid & Tony Martin, Les Sounds, and Egyptian Lover. But it would go on to have at least 15 members. Some of them did security, promotions, sound, or business. But most were professional party rockers. They DJed house parties, high school dances, prom's, and would later throwing their own parties. They competed with other crews around at that time such as "World Class Wrecking Crew" (Lonzo, Yella, Dr. Dre) and LA Dream Team (Snake Puppy, Rudy Pardee).

The records and style of playing music later became the blueprint for one of LA's first stations to play hip hop, KDAY. Founded in 1977 and existing until 1988 formally, the crew grew so popular that they packed arena's meant for super stars with thousands of young people. The Army's sound mixed Electro, New Wave, Funk, Techno, Rock, and an exploding new genre called Hip Hop. In fact, ask any DJs from LA or Cali and they will tell you what an impact they had on DJs generations after them. They'd hook up a dozen amplifiers, over 30 huge Cerwin Vega speakers and subwoofers, and eventually cats like Egyptian Lover started incorporating live drum machine beats and 808's. They even put out their own records. And in the midst of rapidly growing gang war between the Crips, Bloods, and many other sets their dances provided a space for young people of all types to dance, socialize, be creative, and have fun.

Recently the crew was officially honored by the City of Los Angeles with October 28th becoming "Uncle Jamm's Army" day. I want to give a shout out to its members, fans, supporters, and the DJs who were influenced by them including The Mixmasters and The Beat Junkies. I hope that Black History Month recognitions in the future will include them, the scene they created, and the sound they made flourish. Rest In Peace to its founder Roger Clayton.

In this image I wanted to portray just a few of guys as a representation of group which was much larger than 5 men. I also wanted to picture an analog record since that was the foundation of their sound. And lastly, I illustrated people dancing and having fun.

Sources: LA Weekly, Red Bull Music Academy Documentary, Cant Stop Won't Stop

Wanna see more? Check out  this illustration about Camp Atwater HERE.

Feb 25, 2020

Photo of me (Pueblo Nuevo)

This is an old photo of me taken by Bounce from the Pueblo Nuevo days. Pueblo Nuevo was a gallery and community space founded by Miguel Perez , Diana Negrin, and Plinio Hernandez in Berkeley California around the mid 2000s. This photo and others like it were promotional photos meant to spread the word about the gallery which featured many different artists who were established and just starting out.

Check out this old video from Emory Douglas' show, which I helped install along with the gallery founders.

Ain't No New Thing - Emory Douglas Teaser from Pueblo Nuevo Gallery on Vimeo.

Feb 17, 2020

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Arlan Hamilton

I first came across Arlan in 2017 through Tech Crunch. I was listening to talks about tech to understand how it was changing my hometown rapidly. That's when I heard Arlan speak about putting other Black women, people of color, women, and queer folks on. Originally from Texas Arlan was a big music fan who became tour manager and production coordinator for bands. She also was curious about tech and did enough research to earn a Masters Degree in venture capitalist funding. Once she saw the opportunities venture capitalists were missing and got to work to establish Backstage Capital.

Fast forward four years and they've invested in over 100 companies! All of them are run by Black women, people of color, queer folks, and women. Why? The big tech companies we use daily started as tiny companies that needed seed money to grow. but who gets that money is incredibly unequal. Surprise, surprise! Actually over 90% of the large Venture Capitalist are white men which unfortunately means the folks Backstage now funds were overlooked and ignored. Arlan secured over 30 million in funding to seed these people to kickstart their small companies who could one day be the next big thing. And she is one of the only queer Black women ever to do this.

She is now in demand as a public speaker, she created several podcasts, has graced many magazines and news outlets and created a company that is truly giving folks a shot who were previously being blocked. Some of the companies her company (which is now a big team) has invested in are travel, financial tech, music instrumentation, self care, facial recognition, renewable energy, and healthcare. Her company started in Silicon Valley and has grown to include programs in the Bay Area, LA, Detroit, Philadelphia, and London. If you get the emails from Backstage they also include monthly highlights of successful new companies, jobs, tips, accelerator, and all kinds of resources to get your business idea going.

And she's only 39! Big ups for being smart and betting on people who were previously ignored Arlan.

Sources: Tech Crunch, Fast Company, Backstage Capital, Medium

Wanna see more?
Jessica Matthews - Uncharted Play
Kimberly Bryant - Black Girls Code

Feb 16, 2020

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Black Love

This piece is to celebrate Black Love in all its forms. I just imagine two flowers and the words because I wanted it to be a statement that both heterosexual and queer couples could get into. Also, it could be used for family too. Either way, I want to celebrate the Black love that I've seen and continue to see. I am a mixed kid (Black, Korean, Mexican, Apache), I am in a mixed relationship, and my kids are mixed. But I can still celebrate Black Love.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am trying something new for Black History Month. Each year for the past four or five years I have been working on portraits and designs of Black folks from many different walks of life to celebrate Black folks during Black History Month. But, I didn't want to shine more light on folks who are already famous or folks we all know the story of. I wanted to work on artwork about people that not everyone is familiar with. Recognition and money wise that is not the most rewarding in terms of praise or dollars. But, I feel that the breadth of who we are as Black folks is extremely vast and folks need to know more stories. We need to hear about Black futures, young people who are alive and just starting to make history. We need to hear about Gay, Lesbian, Queer, Trans, and or gender non conforming Black folks too, which I feel even Black folks shy away from. And we need to hear about radical Black people.


Check out some close ups here.

Did you see the previous post? See Black is Beautiful type art

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Black Is Beautiful

So I'm trying something new this year for Black History Month. Regularly I draw Black folks from many different walks of life that I feel should be honored, remembered, or studied. Last year I did larger prints of two organizations. The "Contract Buyers League" and "Camp Atwater". This year I'm trying out some type based art prints with the hopes to spread the message and hopefully to help decorate your space. Let me know what you think. The first one is the phrase I used to describe my series, its "Black is Beautiful" and it is inspired by a few things. One is hand lettering and the iron on letters b-boys and b-girls used to adorn their shirts. And the second is Ndebele painted homes from South Africa. Oh and the Adinkra symbol used next to the letter means "love".


Why the phrase? Well, because for centuries the Eurocentric focus on beauty has permeated everything from fashion, to love, to advertising, sex, you name it. Because of it you got Black and Brown people dyeing their skin to look whiter. In the 70s (when I was born) there was a resurgence of Black pride in skin and hair in the US and I see new continuations of that with more people rocking their natural hair and being proud of who they are whether they are African, African American, or Afro Latin@. So, it's a proclamation and a reminder.

Please check out some close ups from the painting below.

Check out the post for Camp Atwater

Feb 13, 2020

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Justin Williams

This is Justin Williams, one of the fastest people on a bicycle right now. Justin is from South Central Los Angeles by way of Belize. He grew up with cycling in his blood and started racing at the age of 14. He's 30 now and has been a bit busy not only winning races but blazing a path for more Black folks and people of color to enter the very white world of cycling. After racing with many teams and trying to assimilate into this world, he decided to create his own team (Legion of Los Angeles) and just be himself. That means bringing some style the cycling world isn't used to seeing. It also means providing mentorship and a home for more to start racing. As a young man he mentioned being inspired by Rahsaan Bahati (cyclist) and is inspiring countless people young and old. People are literally coming up to him and his younger brother Cory Williams (who also races) and asking them to sign their copies of Bicycling magazine (where I first saw him).

Justin described racing by not only using your legs, but your shoulders, you head, your mind, and your whole body to win. And win he does. Justin is the 2018/2019 Road Race National Champion, the 2018/19 Crit National Champ, a 10 time National champion, the 2018 UCI Cross Country Classic, 2017 PRT Dana Point Grand Prox, 2017 B.C. Superweek Ladner Grand Prix, and the 2017 Sprint Class Grand Prix winner. Known for his speed and power Justin has raced all over the US and internationally. Besides having family support he is also sponsored by Specialized Bicycles, Shimano, Rapha, and MedTerra CBD's. Most people consider the Tour De France the pentacle of racing, but I think Justin is bringing more eyes to the "Crit" or closed circuit course where you have to be the first in shorter faster races. He is living Black history. Follow his journey.

Wanna see more? Check out:
Greg Liggins- Bmx rider

Sources: State Bicycles, Cycling Weekly, WSJ, Velo news, and Med Terra

Podcast - Business of Hype w/ Patta

Yo, if you are a small business owner and creative this podcast is really worth listening to. Doesn't matter if you're knee deep in the game or a newbie, there is game to learned here. So many of these i've listened to. Patta, Melody Ehsani, The owners of ALife, Roy Choi, Asa Akira, James Jean, Mister Cartoon, and so many more.

Interview throwback - Tandem Early Learning

This was last summer in Oakland at the Tandem Early Learning office. The cool thing about this org is that they study and encourage early literacy. They are one of many organizations nationally that do this and here in the Bay Area they go out to a bunch of school and read to kids. They also lend books to families and give them free books. So that is how a bunch of families have gotten a copy of "Furqan's First Flat Top" a book I wrote and illustrated. It was great talking with Tandem!

Support of literacy in a child's life early has been proven to help them later in school in so many ways.

Feb 12, 2020

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Carlota Lukumí

Carlota Lukumí or "Carlota La Negra" was a west African (Benin) woman who was kidnapped and sold into slavery at the age of 10 years old. Many years after being brought to Cuba and witnessing the inhuman conditions Black folks were made to work in there she secretly began using the drum to communicate messages to others in her area. Carlota and five co conspirators rose up on November 5th 1843 in Matanzas (90 km east of Havana). Their group had been toiling away in a sugar plantation owned by Julian Luis Alfonso at a time when several movements to abolish slavery were taking hold in Jamaica and other parts of the West Indies. They killed their masters, any whites they could find (including Alfonso's daughter), set fire to buildings and structures used to torture the enslaved Africans. Their revolt expanded from Triunvirato to five other neighboring plantations. Carlota is recognized as one of the only Black women to lead such a revolt. Although it was unsuccessful it sent shock waves through the white establishment as did revolts in Haiti, Brazil, and other places. I pictured her in this way because she had to be fierce and it is said that they did this with the same tools they used to cut the sugar cane with, machetes. The name Lukumi is said to come from her Benin roots and is a way to describe the Yoruba tradition of Santeria in Cuba.

Want to see more? Check out:
El Yanga (Gaspar) Afro Mexican leader of slave revolt
Queen Nanny Maroon leader in Jamaica

Sources: Afropunk, Orisha Image, LatiNegras, 

Feb 11, 2020


I was introduced to Maliza via Ana when she did a guest feature on Julieta Venegas song "Para Mi". Really great to hear and see some of the history of this group and hip hop from Chile.

Feb 10, 2020

My homies are my Heroes - Organizer piece

Yo, so I just exhibited this new painting at the "My Homies are my Heroes" show at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco's Mission District. If you're around go see it while it's up for a month. The show is curated by my Trust Your Struggle Sister in arms Nancy Hernandez and it features artwork inspired by the show's title. Some of the amazing artists featured in the show are OGs, established artists, and emergin artists such as Yolanda Lopez, Twick, Spie, Thitiwat Phromratanapongse, Crystal Clarity, Vyal One, Marina Perez -Wong, and more. Check out a few photos from the opening, but know there are many more!

Please go check it out. The opening reception was this past friday. Here is the facebook invite and here is the link to the gallery at MCCLA

Community Reads - Book Fair

Hey, this is a new event happening at the end of this month, Black History Month. "Community Reads" is a new book fair focused on African American authors and illustrators based in the Bay Area. It is being organized by Tamara Shiloh of Hilltop Mall's "Multicultural Children's Bookstore", the brick and mortar store with the most diverse selection of children's books in the Bay Area.  The store opened up in 2017 with Robin Wilson and Tamara Shiloh and is now owned by Tamara who is also an educator and author. Myself and author Angela Dalton will be helping to spread the word about this one. You can see the lineup of authors above. Please stop by or tell a friend about it. If you consider yourself a Black author please reach out to Tamara about tabling. We currently have kid lit and adult novelists coming through.

Here is the facebook invite LINK
And here is the eventbrite link in case you're not on Facebook.

Never been to the store? Check out this video!

Feel free to share this and visit the store's website.

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Paris

I still remember playing my cassette of "The Devil Made Me Do It" as a 5th grader in El Cerrito California. I would come home from school, finish my homework, and press play. I can't remember how I was steered to Paris-The Black Panther from San Francisco, but whenever I think of the history of Bay Area Rap, Hip Hop, and revolutionary thought I think of Paris among many others. 

Paris broke some sonic barriers on the west coast by incorporating funk, bass, hard drums, and sharp lyrics that talked about the Panther Party, revolutionary movements, the evils of the US Government, real attempts to dumb Black folks down, the Nation of Islam, Drugs, Hood violence, economic self sufficiency, respect for Black women, and being aware. Studying. Not only that but he produced, made the beats slap by studying the funk of Larry Graham and George Clinton and adding his style to it. Something else P-Dog did was put other people on such as Oakland's own Conscious Daughters and T-Kash. 

Over the years of major label and independent projects Paris has worked with Public Enemy, Dead Prez, The Coup, Immortal Technique, E40, Kam, Fredwreck, Mc Ren, KRSONE, Mystic, DJ True Justice, and many more. His music has been featured in many films and TV shows as well. If you're not familiar with this cat go check out Guerilla Funk Recordings. Respect! 

Sources: Sway In the Morning, Guerilla Funk.com,  East Bay Times, SF Gate

Wanna see more? Check out:
Guru (RIP) - MC

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Linda Denley

This is Grandmaster Linda Denley an outstanding martial artist with a 10th degree black belt in Karate and a 4th degree in Tae Kwon do. Originally from Houston she is known as the Texas Terror and has over 35 martial arts competitive titles under her belt. Known as a hard hitter and fierce competitor she has won competitions at the Long Beach International, the US Open, the US Capital Classic, and the Diamond National. She won the battle of Atlanta Karate competition 11 times in a row and was a top ranked female fighter from 1973 to 1996! She has starred in action films as well and has operated her own martial arts school (The Texas Black Belt Academy) for 45 years. She is the first woman to be inducted into the Black Belt Magazine hall of fame and her high school has a yearly Linda Denley day. Much respect to this great fighter who is still training and teaching today in Houston!

Sources: Sport Karate Museum, USA Dojo, Imdb, Naska Hall of Fame

Want to see more? Check out:
Steve Muhammad - Martial Artist
Ann Wolfe- Boxer

Feb 5, 2020

Podcast w/ Jill Guerra - Yoga & Mindfullness teacher

I've been working with author Jill Guerra-Burger for awhile and it was really great to hear her describe what its like to be a full time yoga and mindfulness teacher in public schools. This is something I hope more schools will implement in the future. Besides teaching Jill is also and author. Check out her book here: The Love Curriculum

Feb 4, 2020

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Kasi Lemmons

Born in 1961, Kasi Lemmons began as a child actress. By the late 80s she had acted in nearly a dozen tv and film roles. She starred in films such as School Daze, Candyman, The five heartbeats, The Silence of the Lambs, Drop Squad, and GridLock'd. But whats more is that she began writing and directing, putting forth stories that highlight Black life! 

I first came across Kasi as an actress in "Fear of A Black Hat" a comedy that played on so many things in our society and hip hop. Then I saw Eve's Bayou. That film still resonates today. And if the ending scene of Harriet is any indication, we're just beginning to see what Kasi has for us next. I urge you to check out some of her films and see the ground she has broken for Black women in Hollywood where it is still extremely difficult to get your story made.

Salute Kasi! Let the producer gods bless you with many great and well financed opportunities to tell your stories!

Sources: Imdb, LA Times, Wikipedia, Tiff

Want to see more Black excellence?
Jackie Ormes- Cartoonist
Ava DuVernay-Director

Feb 3, 2020

Black is Beautiful 2020 - J*Davey

I don't know if musicians now realize the impact that this group had on what we hear today. There have always been groups who blended styles to make something new, but few did it like these two. This group broke ground on the mixing of music, fashion, design, and so much more. Formed in the early to mid 2000's Brook D' Leau and Jack Davey like many artists took advantage of the new digital platform Myspace to get their music out there. And like so many groups before them, they hit the road hard perfecting their stage presence and performance all over the US and internationally. From the mid 2000's up until the mid 2010's their output of shows and music took elements of hip hop, punk, electronic music, soul, and rock and made something I hope you'll listen to if you've never heard them before. They performed on some of the biggest stages, reached thousands of fans digitally, got nods from some of the greats, and they did it all independently.

I first came across them through the Bay Area's own Honor Roll crew. Trackademics (who was working with them) put me on to them. It wasn't until I moved to Brooklyn that I truly felt and began to absorb what they were doing. The ability to move between styles so seamlessly is tough. I just barely missed them at the 4th Afro Punk fest in Brooklyn. That year I saw a young Janelle Monae for the first time and my homies band Game Rebellion. My crew TYS had been painting live murals at the festival and left for a nationwide mural tour the day before they performed. Babysitters, work, life, etc kept me from seeing them live but I have listened to their songs over and over and the music they made is Black History sonically. A mix of genres, and genre-less. Funk, sharp, sexy, raw, soulful, and extremely talented as composers, song writers, and performers.

Shout out to Jack and Brook who are still making art in various ways. Thank you for the music and inspiration. Electric Cowabonga!

Wanna see more Black History?
Roc Raida- DJ/Turntablist
Jewel Thais-Williams- Club/ Health

Feb 2, 2020

29 Days of the Web- Black Designers

Check this out, a website created by Revision Path Podcast to honor one Black designer each day of February! Please go through and check it out to familiarize yourself with these talented folks. And if you have't had a chance to, listen to the Revision Path Podcast on Black Designers.

29 Days of the Web LINK

Revision Path Podcast

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Jewel Thais-Williams

I first became aware of Jewel through the documentary "Jewel's Catch One" by C. Fitz distributed by Array Films. In the late 60s LA club scene Jewel barred from entry and jobs. Because of the racism and sexism she experienced when trying to work as a bartender or just go party she decided to build her own spot called "Jewel's Catch One" which stayed open for over 40 years through a fire, police harassment, and the many hardships (both physical and financial) to keep any business open.  

From what I can tell her club helped to create a safe and creative space for Queer Black folks to dance, party, and just be themselves. With a great sound system, and DJs who were among the first to play Disco and House music on the west coast it became a destination for folks worldwide. To run it, Jewel was not only a business owner but a bartender, dj, plumber, electrician, and manager of this club and its staff. 

Later she went back to school at UCLA and earned a Master degree in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Using those talents she founded the Village Health Foundation, a health clinic which offered free or lost cost healthcare, acupuncture, and services to her community. She also founded the first women's Aids shelter and a vegan restaurant! She is happily married and is still working to better her community. Props!

Sources: Jewel's Catch One Documentary, Msnbc, Wikipedia.

Wanna see more Black is Beautiful pieces?
Camp Atwater-Oldest Black Camp in US
Marlon Riggs- Filmmaker

Feb 1, 2020

Black is Beautiful 2020 - Cey Adams

It's been a while. I took a break from doing Black Is Beautiful last year. I was taking care of my brand new baby girl and now I'm back at it. Not sure if I can knock out one for each day of the month but I'm definitely going to do do some new ones and a poster.

Lets talk about Cey! 

We talk about giving people their flowers while they're still here and I want to give Cey some shine. If you didn't grow up into graf as a kid, lemme introduce you. Cey Adams started off as a graf writer in the mid 70s as Graffiti was exploding throughout the boroughs of NYC. Born in 1968 this cat had been painting for many years when I saw him in "Style Wars". Cey had and still has incredible letter structure that instantly caught my eye.

He went on to be a part of that merging of Graf with gallery exhibitions in Manhattan which I'm sure he caught flack for from some purists. Then he became one of the architects of what we know as design for hip hop producing graphics, album covers, merchandise, and logos for many of the best hip hop and r&b stars of the 80's, 90's, and beyond. He co-founded a design company called "The Drawing Board" which produced a ton of Def Jam's design work! Today this cat is still making art with a mixture of beautiful texture and some classic logos.

As a 20 something while interning for design powerhouse Morning Breath Inc in Brooklyn I really got put on to Cey's work as Doug and Jason showed me some incredible work he'd done that I didn't even know he did. I saw originals that just blew my mind. For ever Cey will be one of my favorite artists/designers and I would love those celebrating Black history to not only include this man in the books, but to give him his props now. Much respect Cey if you're reading this!

Sources: Style Wars, Def Jam, CeyAdams.com, Wikipedia, Noisey

Is this your first time seeing me do Black History Month art? Please check out a few of these!
Ruth Carter- Costume Designer
Betty Reid Soskin- Park Ranger