During my creative life, I have committed a lot of my focus to youth-centered art projects and public art. The contents that follow here reflect many of these undertakings and products, from mural works to tee pee paintings and from public transit projects to young people interacting with and painting on horses. Many of the young people I have worked with have faced challenging family and social circumstances. Some have suffered from sexual or drug and alcohol abuse; some have been in or at-risk of becoming engaged in the criminal justice system. Art and creativity have offered them a constructive stage for self-expression and a positive direction forward.
Paso Robles Art Festival Murals
Paso Robles Library and City Hall Youth Mural Project
In 2011, I assembled a multicultural cohort of local at-risk teens to create a mural for the Paso Robles, CA Public Library and City Hall. The project was a huge success and involved about 25 young people in its various statges of development, all of whom were honored at a subsequent City Hall ceremony involving the mayor and city council.
Random Canyon Teepee Project
In 2009, my beloved wife Claudia and I organzied multiple groups of at-risk youth and artists from Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo counties, to participate in teepee painting and teepee raising activities at our Creston, CA property on Random Canyon Way–Rancho el Sueño (The Dream Ranch). We partnered with my South Central LA-based youth mentor Bennie L. Davenport of the Blazer House and Fred “Bull” Chaney of the Gryphon House in Grover Beach, CA. In the process, the youth and adult contributors learned from Native Elder Marty Cantu and others about the sacred histories and rituals of the native peoples of the American West and Southwest.
In 2012, I helped to create a youth arts group called Artists Reimagining Color (ARC) at Paso Robles, CA Studios on the Park. About two dozen teens participated in various activities including dedicated art projects, as well as a series of private 1:1 conversations with leading artists living and working on the California Central Coast. Trippy Room, was one of the most distinct projects organized by several of the group’s leaders, including Bethany Reninger and Kyler Olson Winters. They painted found objects and recovered furniture in psychedelic colors and forms to establish the outlines of a safe space or home that they imagined for their futures to come.
Rapid Transit Authority Youth Art In Motion Project
In 2013, I helped Studios on the Park’s youth artist group, Artists Reimagining Color (ARC), to paint a series of murals and placards that were later installed on Rapid Transit Authority buses and at station stops across San Luis Obispo County. Hundreds of thousands of people benefitted from these works being shown around the California Central Coast region during the entire ensuing year.
In 2013, I assisted the Paso Robles, CA Studios on the Park youth group, Artists Reimagining Color (ARC) to paint horses in the far North reaches of San Luis Obispo County at a private ranch. It was an extraordinary, uplifting, and memorable experience for all involved. Many of the kids were from troubled homes and experiencing related challenges and traumas. The horses and the art were like medicine, providing both escape from the frequent turmoil of ‘normal’ life and a window into some better place in the future to come.
University High Mural Project
My formative experience in public art began with a high school mural project that I conceived and led at West Los Angeles, CA University High School. With the help of Terry Smith and Alicia Alatriste, and more than 20 of our school classmates, we produced three large murals on our school campus during 1977. The murals dealt with issues of multiculturalism and War and Peace. Our work garnered the attention of leading institutions from the Los Angeles Times and the Santa Monica Evening Outlook newspapers to the Los Angeles City Council and the LA County Board of Supervisors.