S1F Gallery: An Improvised Solo Show


Qilin in nightglow.

setting up

bring out the depth

now the glow

This fantastic space found its way to me by good fortune.  Although a bit last minute and fully improvised, setting up under limited circumstances quickly became a blessing in disguise.  Thanks to my friends for helping me out.  Also shout out to www.gsuarezphoto.com for capturing these memorable photos.  And of course, to everyone who came through.

*for full photo set click here

Old Work Revisited #2: Lovestains

title: Lovestains     year: 2009


Old Work Revisited #1: Photosynthesis

title: Pho+osyn+hesis     year: 2009

We can extract unlimited positive from Plant Life.  Embrace their presence and reciprocate in balance and sustenance.  Create more than we destroy for their existence generates Growth for all beneath the Sun.

Guan Gong Rides the Lion

title: Guan Gong Rides the Lion  關公騎唐獅

mixed media, 36 x 48, 2011

Guan Gong (or Guan Yu) is a deified general who lived during the era of the Three Kingdoms.  Wielding a Crescent Blade (青龍偃月刀) and rocking a graceful beard, his spirit radiates a majestic presence.  Guan Gong's is respected as an epitome of loyalty and righteousness.  Similar values stand true for the temple lion, a mythical creature known for warding off evil spirits and protecting lives with stern dignity.  This painting embodies such values and celebrates the importance of staying true of self.  It's more than just about keeping it real, it's about keeping it right.

limited prints available here

Tune in while you enjoy this piece, these sounds inspired the visual: 


Guan Gong Rides the Lion is on display with 2 other new paintings for nearly 2 months starting this coming Saturday.  Please come by on selected dates, or whenever!  The show's info is below:

9/3-10/29   Norbertellen Group Show 
Norbertellen Gallery 215 W. 6th St. suite 110, LA 90014 (close to Spring)
9/3        opening reception 6-10PM
9/8        artwalk 12PM-10PM
10/8      artist reception 6-10PM
10/13    artwalk 12PM-10PM

Water No Get Enemy


title: Water No Get Enemy     year: 2011     40 x 60     mixed media

To a peaceful, cleaner blue.  To a conscious, brighter future.  To the betterment of our coexistence with mammals in the sea.  To treat life and death with respect, to live in balance and harmony.

The title is taken from Fela Kuti's famous song.  Fela revolutionized Afrobeat (Afrojazz), an expression characterized by a fairly large band with many instruments, vocals, and a layered structure of jazzy, funky horn sections.  The harmonious blend of this many elements adequately reflects his energy and spirit, because he was a man who sought balance through music.  My style of coloring embodies a similar approach because I like to explore with layers and combinations of how various hues can compliment each other.

Recently I came across a talented music producer who sampled Water No Get Enemy.  Tall Black Guy aka Terrel Wallace delivers a rejuvenating touch to this classic.  Although we work in different creative disciplines, I immediately connected to Terrel's approach because through my paintings I explore themes and motifs of the past to interpret fresh, modern expressions for the future.

From past to present, from Fela to Tall Black Guy, from music to painting, I see correlations of influences and channels of inspiration and discovery.

*limited prints available here

Crewest Painting Sessions Sat 8/6 & Artwalk 8/11

I will be painting at Crewest for the Eye to Eye exhibit's opening reception this coming Sat 8/6 and for Artwalk the following Thurs 8/11.  Below are preview close-ups of my paintings that will be present.  Come through everyone!  I will be attending to the wide lion piece.

Water No Get Enemy, 40" x 60" (2011)

sneak viewing of upcoming wood panel series (only during painting dates)

come see this grow

8/6       opening reception / painting 6-10PM
8/11     artwalk / painting 12PM-10PM
8/6~8/28     duration of exhibit

Crewest 110 Winston St., LA 90013
Tue-Thu 12pm ~ 7pm
Fri-Sat 12pm ~ 8pm
Sun 12pm ~ 6pm
closed Mondays

Eye to Eye: a group show that finds graffiti artists and painters playing on common ground through the shared aesthetic principles on movement, color, and energy.

Upcoming Shows, and Shirt...

The following blueprint represents my second collaboration with Neoclassics.  This past Spring we printed limited edition Ts for relief in Sendai, a project I was proud to be a part of.  Needless to say, this new juncture is inspired by another simple, positive, and original direction.  The concept is to visualize a modern take on "joker" in Ukiyo-e style poker card format.

After researching some of Utagawa's finest and their deliverance on form, posture, and fabric patterns, I decided on a kabuki dancer for the art form's comparable traits in all things avant-garde and the unimaginable bizarre.

Keeping true to swaying fresh, the whimsical figure romanticizes with a boombox rather than a fan.  Only higher decibels can sustain his funk.  He's bboy by nature, kabuki by discipline, a natural blend between the new and the old, a timeless transition between the modern and the ancient, a rebirth in NEO and CLASSIC.

Fresh shirt designs coming soon from Neoclassics.  CAN'T WAIT for Neo's touchup to this piece.  Stay tuned.

Upcoming Shows:

7/23     Think Tank 939 Maple Ave. suite 200, LA 90015 / 9PM-1AM

8/6-8/28   Eye to Eye: a group show that finds graffiti artists and painters playing on common ground through the shared aesthetic principles on movement, color, and energy.
Crewest 110 Winston St., LA 90013
8/6       opening reception / live painting 6-10PM
8/11     artwalk / live painting 12PM-10PM 

8/13     Art Crawl Experience (ACE) 205 Center Street Promenade, Anaheim 92805 
              live painting 5PM-10PM

9/3-10/29   Norbertellen Group Show 
Norbertellen Gallery 215 W. 6th St. suite 110, LA 90014 (close to Spring)
9/3        opening reception 6-10PM
9/8        artwalk 12PM-10PM
10/8      artist reception 6-10PM
10/13    artwalk 12PM-10PM

Hope to see some of you out there.  Peace & Love, 


How Fluorescent 3D Works

In recent shows many have inquired how I free-hand the 3D effect on my paintings.  Although I can't explain from a scientific point of view, I can explain how technically it can be achieved.  Let's use my recent piece as an example:

title: Black Magic     year: 2011     

In the darkness / we make love / Black Magic the promise the premise the endless the scene we travel / On to arrive at the very beginning of where we started / Journeying onward into the black and deeper into shadow / Life will bring trust / It will bring and install the memory you unravel     *inspired by Jose James' "Black Magic"

I start by painting the background colors first.  This is the most spontaneous part of my process, as I splatter and drip colors of various medium to achieve contrast in texture.  Some paints are glossy, some matte, and some are more reactive to light.  This makes an interesting base with conscious abstract values.  From then I would paint the subject matter by layers with fluorescent-based hues to create the 3D effect.  If you view this piece with chromadepth glasses, you will notice the flowers in pink/orange outlines come to the foreground, while the yellow outlines remain in the back.  Similar effect with the birds, the bottom one comes forward, while the top one stays behind.

Since the hues I utilize have fluorescent values, some of my paintings offer another perspective under inverse lighting, or in most cases, black lights.  Below I will refer to another painting to showcase this effect:


This piece is entitled Qilin and under black lighting the painting glows fluorescent.  The intensity of the fluorescence can be manipulated by the brightness of the light source.  The white/yellow outlines on the creature now glows green, and certain parts such as Qilin's belly goes from red to bright yellow.  Since fluorescence also amplifies the contrast of each layer, if you view the piece in this mode with chromadepth glasses the 3D effect becomes even greater.  

Although I ultimately want viewers to enjoy my work as they are, this technique generates greater depth to the pieces and offers multiple ways to enjoy the same painting.

*Black Magic & Qilin are both now available under shop

Timelapse: Compassion

DJEMBE&CANVAS Compassion Timelapse from alfa smog

Fortunately for me, the talented folks at alfa smog approached me to document a timelapse of my painting process.  The following was shot in 3 days with 2 cameras and ~15 hours of actual painting.  Enjoy!

This piece is entitled Compassion and you can view the finished painting HERE

Many big thanks to alfa smog (Benedict, Sasha Esfahani, Blaq Panda) for making this happen.  Also shout out to Neil Fernandez and Lucky Finn Productions for assisting.

D&C Board Designs


Presenting my new custom board line.  Whether it's your skateboard, snowboard, surfboard, or all things board-related, commission me for a hand-painted, original design.  Just hand me your board, tell me what you want, and I'll have it ready within 4-6 weeks.  Prices negotiable. 
*commission me at joe@djembeandcanvas.com

Braza: D&C x Yosaku

Yosaku - Braza (March 2011) 320kbps download by yosaku

mix by: YOSAKU     cover art by: DJEMBE&CANVAS

When the organic side of Brasil meets the electronic.  Tune in.

HOPE & COURAGE Shirts for Japan



Hope & Courage shirts for Japan are now available.

The front design is the piece I painted in tribute to Northern Japan.  The central figure is Date Masamune, a historical icon of the Tohoku region and the founder of Sendai.  He is wounded and battling defiantly to protect the koi in his arms.  The spirit of Masamune represents the courage of all the relief efforts and the koi symbolizes the people's hope and resiliency.

The back design consists of the rising sun and Sendai's crest (2nd symbol).  This represents a collective tribute from NEO (wreath headphones) and D&C (yours truly).  My favorite part is Neo's idea of featuring the logo of Sendai to convey sympathy & respect to all those who're living through this.

These sublimation Ts are each meticulously hand-pressed.  The fabric is very soft and comfortable.  Please spread the word and contribute.  All proceeds are donations to Stand Up for Japan, a project aimed at providing IMMEDIATE relief to the survivors.  Their direct routing system can be viewed HERE.

shirts are available for purchase HERE.

Thank you and bless Japan.

My Tribute to Japan

"We lost almost everything, but we have one thing.  That is hope.  Today is better than yesterday and I hope tomorrow will be better than today."

These words are from my friend Tomoyuki, who resides in Sendai with his family.  Although I'm deeply relieved to hear they're ok, the pain inside continues to grow as the survivors and the victims' families are still dealing with the aftermath of last week's horrific disaster.  Thousands have perished.  More are homeless and have no access to electricity, water, and gas.  Some have died in their shelters.  Many are still unaccounted for.  In Fukushima, the struggle to stabilize Daiichi continues.  The emergency workers at the plant are staring at death in the face while fighting heroically to prevent the problem from worsening.  

In senseless times like these, we need to come together.  As I'm writing this, Tomo and his family are still working against the clock to provide for their communities.  If they stopped trying, people in his hometown are going to die.  They have no time to dwell or be in shock.  They simply must carry on and do what they can amidst all the chaos and fear.  Instead of feeling despondent, he chooses to stay positive and hopeful.  To me that is true courage.  

This piece is my tribute to Northern Japan.  It is my homage to all the relief workers.  It is my prayer for all the survivors, the victims, and their loved ones.  Date Masamune, known as the 'one-eyed dragon' with a moon crescent on his helmet, is an iconic historical figure of Northern Japan.  Here he is wounded and battling for survival.  Yet his remains defiant, determined to protect the golden koi in his arms.  The koi represents 'hope' and the resiliency of every survivor.  

Tomo, I feel helpless as I watch and hear what is happening around you.  I can't do much at the moment, but I hope this painting is enough to lift your spirit.  And the spirits of all the people who are living through this.

title: Hope & Courage
dimensions: 4 ft x 4 ft
date: March 18, 2011

Recent Interview: FURAIJIN


title: FURAIJIN 風雷神

dimensions: 24 x 60

This is the focus piece for a recent interview with Jose, a writer at Nerd Reactor.  We met at CES earlier this year, and he was kind enough to send over a few questions about my work.  We both share an interest for Japanese Art and how the culture evolves aesthetic beauty through so many colorful depictions of mythology & spirituality.  Above is a wide panel for Fujin & Raijin (Wind God & Thunder God), a pairing known as protective deities under Buddha's Messengers of Heaven.  I found inspiration for this piece through Towaraya Sotatsu's famous painting.  My aim is the innovate a contemporary expression while respecting the traditions of the past.

Painting about L.O.V.E.

title: Love & Inspiration
dimensions: 36 x 72

I recently participated in a group show and the theme was love.  Although I put a lot of love into every painting, I realized I've never created a piece about love.  

It has been a long while since I've been able to express my love for someone openly.  There was always a reason to hold back, and at times it was rather difficult for me because as an artist, I live and breathe expression.  I felt a lid on my heart for many years.  So needless to say, the task of 'painting love' grew in challenge.  

This painting came to life through deep reflection.  After countless hours of soul searching, I realized I wanted to express love in the most positive and vibrant way I could.  Although we all have our heartbreaks and for some the scars run deeper than others, I feel the essence of love should still be about hope and encouragement.  This piece represents all of how I feel.  It shows how uplifting, colorful, and free love can be.  

"Love is always finding a way to inspire each other." 

Falling in Love

title: Falling in Love

dimensions: 36 x 60

Cranes represent longevity and grace.  The flocks ascend a champagne symphony, where love is blessed upon those who simply believe.

A shout out to remember.

Reflektions on CES: Looking back on the Future  

When I came across this article by Kamarr Richée, I felt very fortunate to be on the receiving end of such inspiring words.  

Thank you, Kamarr.  Your message is one with the spirit of giving.  

It's folks like you that make doing this so worthwhile for me.

Miyamoto Musashi : D&C x Mark de Clive-Lowe


title: Musashi 

dimensions: 24 x 48

Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584-1645) was a peerless samurai who evolved the Niten-ryū (dual-sword) technique and the writer behind The Book of Five Rings (五輪書), a practice of strategy, philosophy, and self-mastery that incorporates the understanding of nature's essence.

I met Mark de Clive-Lowe earlier last year and had the privilege of painting for his new studio.  When I asked him what he was feeling, he envisaged colors of red & gold...and the energy of Musashi's legacy.  When I tune in to Mark's music, a reflection of his soulful, positive energy radiates.  I had to keep this piece as 'lively' as possible because I felt this common characteristic was key.  

Energy.  Life.  Progression.  These are core values shared in both Mark's musicianship and Musashi's fighting spirit.  

MdCL DJ set with Hayagriva ;-)


Musashi wallpaper <---

Vice-Grip : D&C x Yosaku

Tune in to this vibrant mix by LA-based DJ and producer Yosaku.  Seldom do you meet someone who just gets what blends of sound move you.  His understanding of soul and rhythm makes him an outstanding floor killer.  He is the bridge for having taste and good ears.

The cover art for this mix is a painting entitled "Colors of Music".  It's a free-style painting I improvised with a close friend of mine.  This piece is about harmony.  The colors are making love to each other.  I feel this image compliments Yosaku's unique blend of music because his creations are also about togetherness.  

It's about bringing music together.  And about bringing people together through music.

01. sons and daughters of lite - let the sun shine in  02. the bamboos - keep me in mind (randomer remix)  03. mark de clive lowe presents sy smith - truth (seiji vox twist)  04. kay suzuki - move on (ezel remix)  05. moonstarr feat. tash - monopoly  06. oveous maximus - i apologize (atjazz overpowered mix)  07. patrice rushen - remind me  08. makoto - human nature (vip 2007 mix)  09. inner city - good life (carl craig mix)  10. kele le roc - that rhythm  11. root soul feat. vanessa freeman - spirit of love (mano arriba remix)  12. rasmus faber - get over here feat. melo (rafa's miami reprise)  13. mahon - closer (kaytronix uptown saturday nite remix)  14. gap band - outstanding (greymatter rework)

Afro-House Wonders : D&C x Chaka

Tune in to Chaka Delic's World of Music @ www.cyberchaka.podomatic.com

Afro-House Wonders will guide your spiritual rhythm into the sunset.  This piquant blend of auditory pleasure will heighten your senses.  I'm particularly proud of this collaboration.  Chaka's decision to use 'Yakumba' for the cover of his Afro-House mix could not be more timely.  

I had just finished watching Femi Kuti's Live at the Shrine and became deeply inspired by his demonstration of the Human Spirit.  This painting came to life shortly after.  The lion represents courage (freedom from resentment), a conviction celebrating unity through self-improvement.  The butterfly stands for our constant curiosity to understand Truth, along with all of its facets, without losing our moral balance.  Yakumba is about how we can grow together.  As is Afro-House Wonders.  It's about how we can move and sway together.