verb motion in transitory nature

-verb motion in transitory nature-

輪迴     mix media     jan 2018

I'm trying to see all things as verb rather than noun, learning to perceive everything as process rather than possession.  To breathe is to allow a new version of something from the past.  From one wavelength to another the rhythm is freeform, transitory in constant state.  As the kirin beast reincarnates through the cyclical flow of self-elevation, my canvas discovers the possibility to live in verb motion, the movement of being.


* Please check out FB/IG:  djembecanvas  for updates of my new artwork.  Thank you.


This is a retrospective documentation of our journey from Los Angeles to Sendai and Ishinomaki.  Our goal was to embrace art as a form of expression for healing.  Our aim was to bring about a touch of positivity to a shattered community through creating something collectively.  We hope our actions will lift the spirit of these resilient communities.  The smaller port towns in Northeastern Japan deserve more immediate attention and assistance.  

Art is powerful beyond measure and hopefully this story demonstrates that.  Shortly after this journey, I fell into a deep funk and couldn’t recover for quite some time.  For the first time in my life I doubted myself and my direction as an artist.  I lost my purpose, and for a moment the colors on my canvas lost its colors.  I’m known to be naive and foolish, but I’m self-aware.  Yet this moment of darkness shook me like I never felt.  Nearly 3 years ago, my best friend passed away from cancer.  His unyielding courage gave me hope and his death taught me to cherish life.  He plays a pivotal role in my vision as an artist because we both share the same ideals about giving a hand to the impoverished through Art and Music.  Because of him, I’ve decided to go to Ishinomaki.  Yet after my journey, I sank deeply and I stopped fighting for our vision.  I missed him a great deal and I couldn’t find my way.  

Just when I was about to give up on my brush, the Grace of God gave me another chance.  Life is ironic and bittersweet, yet it remains beautiful and moving to the ones who endure and overcome great adversity.

Because in the end it was seeing this video myself for the first time, a year after our trip to Ishinomaki, that saved my life.  Seeing the children of Ishinomaki again, seeing Tomo again, rediscovering the smiles on their faces…I recovered the light within myself.  A blessing in disguise all along.  Good news is I’m more realistic this time around, and my passion comes back two-fold, maybe three :)  

We all have two lives.  Our second one starts when we realize we only have one.  This time around, I will not allow myself to surrender to the darkness.  I am the light and I will continue to shine.

I will always be grateful for and humbled by my experiences with the people of Ishinomaki.  As I write this the journey comes full circle.  I hope we continue to find clever ways to support the communities that are constantly overlooked.   

Special thanks to alfasmog for their patience, dedication, and support.  Without them this wouldn’t have been possible.  And I would like to send our deepest gratitude to Tomoyuki Sato and the Sato Clan.  Thank you for your kindness, hospitality, and generosity.  Our paths cross ways for reasons that allow us to grow as better people.  And lastly, thank you to the children of Ishinomaki Kodomo Center.  For your smiles and resilience. 

And for showing us the way.

with love,

Joe Wu


Nov 11, 2015

Spiritual Rebirth

new work / rebirth in progress

* To see my new artwork / recent commission paintings please check out my facebook or tumblr page.  Currently revamping this website.  Thank you.


title: harmonious

mix media on canvas   9ft x 3ft   june 2014

private commission triptych

Ishinomaki Children Center x DJEMBE & CANVAS

I've decided to donate the funding from Hope & Courage to the children center in Ishinomaki.  Ishinomaki is located in the eastern part of the Miyagi Prefecture.  It's one of the cities that was hit hardest by the tsunami three years ago.  Many buildings are still dilapidated.  Even the city hall is temporarily situated in a department store.  A lot of these children have lost more than I have ever in my lifetime.  At times it is difficult for them to smile.  However, many of them laughed during the art classes and our times spent together.  It goes to show us the potential of art to heal and inspire.  For the kids who have lost their homes and family, this children center represents so much solace and hope.  This beautiful space is even designed by some of the older students and most importantly is completely free for all.  I have no doubt in my mind the money will be put to good use here.  The art supplies hopefully will encourage some of these kids to become future artists.  The remainder of the donation we splurged on a shopping spree at Toys R Us.  I'm sure the children will enjoy these toys, DVDs, and boardgames for many years to come :)  Ishinomaki Children Center, thank you for enriching my soul by showing me that in the midst of such tragedy, there is a resilient sense of community and love. 

松島佛獅 Matsushima Lionhart

During my travels to Northern Japan 5 years ago, I encountered the Lion of Blue & Gold at Matsushima.  The experience thoroughly inspired my creative intuition.  My journey to Sendai begins next Monday, thus the time is appropriate to pay homage to the grand lion spirit, the beautiful city and its durable people.

DJEMBE & CANVAS   April 14, 2014



year: 2014

mix media 

台灣黑熊 (Formosan Black Bear), Ursus thibetanus formosanus, are endemic to Native Taiwan.  The V-shaped white mark is a trademark distinction of this magnificent, spiritual being.  If Pandas are considered endangered at an estimated 2000 or less, then Formosan Black Bears are near extinct as roughly only 500 or less remain.  

Five liliums behind the bear symbolize the estimated 500 in number since lilium in Mandarin translates to 百合花 and the '百' character literally means 'hundred'.  Lotus flowers along with the spontaneous warm colors envelop the bear spirit, advocating sustenance and life.

This painting serves as a reminder to take this matter delicately.  We hope to raise awareness and funding to prolong this grand life force.  May this homage long serve as blessings to the continuation of one of Mother Nature's ancient spirits, the Formosan Black Bears.

*shirts are in production and will be linked in the near future

larry legend

title: legendary

*private commission painting on the legend himself, larry bird

Freedom from Resentment is True Courage

Nelson Mandela, clan name MADIBA, the grand chief of endurance, the world president of peace.  Our monument of hope and freedom.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed.  A man who takes away another man's freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness.  The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.  No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

earth once blue

dec 15th 2013

mix media on canvas 

4ft x 3ft

a planet once pristine

until we tainted

where are we guiding the natural world 

the truth the reminder painted

collective consciousness is

now more than ever needed

cosmic union

cosmic union   ∞

the king serves his queen passionately

the queen nurtures her king selflessly

in union they form a sacred bond

a connection that extends beyond lifetimes 

memories of the past and glimpses of the future

pure silk enveloping the inner spiritual divine

a sacred union manifested through the Sun God, the Creation of Life

the golden nectar emerges

out pours a continuum of love through the everlasting shine



風神雷神 III

3ft X 8ft diptych   2013    mix media


It all stems from my encounter with Towaraya Sotatsu's painting in Kyoto.  Shortly after I came across enormous statues of the pair guarding Tokugawa Ieyasu's resting place in Nikko.  Ever since then, I've been deeply fascinated by Wind God & Thunder God.  Their presence expresses an unique duality that encompasses a sense of both contrast and harmony. Through this I realize if we see beyond conflict this difference may convey a greater balance.  And a clearer sense of unity.

I will be exhibiting this painting at JACCC (Japanese American Cultural Community Center) from Oct 5 to Oct 20.  It's located on 244 S. San Pedro St. between 2nd & 3rd in Little Tokyo.  If time favors us I hope to share this piece with some of you at the opening this Saturday 11AM-4PM.  All peace & love.

love universal

-love universal-

all i want is peace

all i want is for my people to be free

in compassion we may liberate ourselves 

from anger and suffering

through love we enrich ourselves

with humility, acceptance, and true understanding

all i want is peace

all i want is for us to come together

so we can shine a light

a light for this world to see.

右掌是佛陀,左掌是凡人,合掌便是二者合一。 左手的悲傷有右手來承受,右手的決心由左手來支持。此一合掌印便意味著「解救眾生」,它可以將宇宙的力量擴張至無限。

* limited edition prints HERE

Manhattan Portage x DJEMBE & CANVAS : NYC Fluorescent 3D


This recent autumn ~ winter I've enjoyed the privilege of collaborating with Manhattan Portage on a series of messenger bags inspired by New York City and its vibrant urban landscape.  Having lived a few years in the city myself, this project presented an opportunity to restore my passion for a place I've always held close to heart.  Through the research I've learned to see the endless connections and profound depth behind each architecture/view and my fascination for Manhattan matures in foundation with every visit.  Each of these unique bags are hand-painted in 3D (comes with free chromadepth glasses) and reacts to inverse lighting with a fluorescent glow.  You can check out / order your bag from this collection here:

Below are a series of images we documented for this collaboration.  Hope you enjoy the process as much as I've enjoyed painting these.  Many thanks to alfasmog for these fantastic photos.  Image reference photo credits to Denkym, Christian Krieglsteiner, Louis Trocciola, Will Shih, Manhattan Portage & myself.  Thank you all for your inspiration & contribution.   

* Midtown NYC #2/30 full set

* Brooklyn Bridge & Rockefeller (#29/30, #16/30)

*St. Marks #6/30 (bag in fluorescent 3D, use glasses with image)

* Structured Living #7/30

* Financial District from Jersey City #11/30 (bag in fluorescent 3D, use glasses with image)

* Rockefeller #16/30 full set in nightglow 3D (use glasses)

* Austrian Cultural Forum #25/30 (in fluorescent 3D, use glasses)

* Midtown 49th & 9th Rooftop View #5/30 (bag in fluorescent 3D, use glasses)

upcoming shows / acknowledgement bamboo & acrylic editions

acknowledgement / a love supreme

30 x 40     feb 2013

limited edition in bamboo & acrylic prints (26in x 32in print size, 21in x 28in image size)   available here

* in daylight with fluorescent lighting 3D (use chromadepth glasses) -CLOSE UP SHOTS-

upcoming shows below:

Apr 6 - May 31: Norbertellen Gallery 215 W. 6th Street #110, Los Angeles, CA 90014

(4/6) opening reception 6pm-10pm

(4/11) artwalk 12pm-10pm

(5/4) reception 6pm-10pm

(5/9) artwalk 12pm-10pm

Apr 21 : Inkd Thread & Vape Revolution 

Apr 27 : Brewery Artwalk

Apr 27 : Creativity Heals 

June / July / August : Night Market at Santa Anita Race Tracks

a new beginning




a love supreme

rare first-gen prints on acrylic/bamboo:

mutant groove x djembe+canvas

cover for mutant groove ep

limited prints here

NEOCLASSICS x DJEMBE & CANVAS : Hayagriva Shirt Collaboration

neoclassics x djembe+canvas

introducing the new & unique hayagriva shirt collection

mineral washed, raw edge T to give it a vintage feel

for our fam discount code is: DCXNEOFAM2013

New Limited Acrylic Glass Prints

limited acrylic prints : series of 30

Introducing the all new acrylic prints.  These transparent glass prints offer a higher level of definition (with or without 3D).  Comes ready to display/hang (with hanging wire built behind).  So far, three paintings are available in this rare edition:

black magic (series of 30)   16in x 22in   $300   order on shop

hayagriva (series of 30)   24in x 24in   $320   order on shop

monk (series of 30)   20in x 20in   $250   order on shop