Editorial Tribute to Aaron Swartz (11.8.1986 ??? 1.11.2013)

Ink and Graphite on Illustration Board (15″x 20″)


For those of you who aren’t familiar with Aaron Swartz, he pioneered the RSS feed at age 14, started Infogami (which later became Reddit.com) at age 18, and almost singlehandedly stopped the passing of the SOPA/PIPA bill in Congress last year. He dedicated his life to giving equal access to information, and was quoted in his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto saying, “Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.

I would also add that information is money, which is why it isn’t a surprise to me that in 2011, a federal grand jury indictment charged Swartz with wire and computer fraud for downloading large amounts of data from JSTOR, MIT’s digital repository of achives and he faced up to 35 years in prison. That’s more time that rapists and murderers get for what to me, sounds like checking out too many library books at one time. About a month ago, he was found dead in his Broolyn apartment, at age 26. 

I think it’s safe to say Aaron Swartz was a boy genius; a serious free-thinker who used his prodigious talents toward something he believed in– at the risk of some serious consequences. I’m not sure why his suicide struck a nerve with me. Maybe it’s the fact that I worked for Google, maybe it’s because I feel like he was an artist too, of a different stripe– or maybe it’s that I’ve always been a bit suspicious of how our society handles shy, brainy, inconvenient idealists like him. But I think it’s clear that given his trajectory, he could have accomplished a lot more for our world if we had given him a chance. But I guess the sad truth is that he didn’t really have a chance, at least not in our society. His death reminded me of this quote by journalist and author, Mignon McLaughlin:

Society honors its living conformists and its dead troublemakers.”

Rest in Peace, Aaron Swartz.

1.25.12 – Donald Contemplates.

Oil on Canvas, 20″ x 24″


Had to do a still life as a diagnostic first assignment. Decided to have fun with it.

1.21.13 – Back to Basics

Watercolor on Paper


Did a small piece today, and it felt good to go back to pure watercolor. Love seeing all the colors move and flow. My new prof suggested as an exercise, to paint this old shack, which apparently housed a very horny old ox. Glad he got out in style, so I had a fun little subject to do on a gloriously beautiful inaugural day. 

12.14.12 – The Forgetting of Air

Oil on Canvas


“Gazing at the beloved, the lover reduces her to less than nothing if this gaze is seduced by an image, if her nudity, not perceived as endlessly pulsating, becomes a site of disguise rather than of astonishment at something that moves, unceasingly and inwardly.”
Luce Irigaray

You know, I never thought of myself as a Feminist, mostly because growing up in an immigrant family means you quickly learn your place in the tribe and don’t worry about these things. But lately, I realize that I’ve been making art with feminist undertones and I’m 100% proud of that. I mean, I’m not about to bash some guy’s head in at a bar for talking about the last crazy chick he slept with, but I think there’s a lot to be said about the fact that most people can’t even name three female visual artists in history. Go ahead, try naming three, right now.

Anyway, I started painting my latest painting and wanted to make it all rosy and colorful, but to no one’s SURPRISE: it came out all creepy.

This one is in reference to the male gaze, or really, just conflict of power and vulnerabiity in our view of ourselves and other women. It would be way too simplistic to assume that women are only victims in the exchange, but in the exchange there is a beauty that we take for granted. Hope you like it.

11.29.12 – Trying Out New Things

It’s not every day you get to be in a classroom setting with live figure models, but I’ve been priviledged to be in the studio with models for the past few weeks. I started out trying to paint realistically, making sure to mix accurate skin tones and do academic drafts beforehand. Then, I started playing with colors and more abstract composition, lines, and rhythms. I think I still like the realistic rendition better, but there are a few things in the abstract that I like. I still find that I love painting the human figure, and never cease to be amazed and inspired by it. 


Oil on Canvas Board

65-Minute Pose of Catherine


Oil on Canvas

90- Minute Pose of Karen

11.27.12 – Experimentin’

Oil on Canvas


90- Minute Pose

Invisible Cities

Graphite on Mylar 


When you have forded the river, when you have crossed the mountain pass, you suddently find before you the city of Moriana, its alabaster gates transparent in the sunlight, its coral columns supporting pediments encrusted with serpentine, its villas all of glass like aquariums where the shadows of dancing girls with silvery scales swim beneath the medusa-shaped chandeliers. If this is not your first journey, you already know that cities like this have an obverse: you have only to walk a semi-circle and you will come into view of Moriana’s hidden face, an expanse of rusting sheet metal, sackcloths, planks bristling with spikes, pipes black with soot, piles of tins, behind walls with fading signs, frames of staved-in straw chairs, ropes good only for hanging oneself from a rotten beam. From one part to the other, the city seems to continue, in perspective, multiplying its repretory of images: but instead it has no thickness, it consists only of a face and an obverse, like a sheet of paper, with a figure on either side, which can neither be seperated nor look at each other. ” –From Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino, 1972

11.20.12 – Doin’ Studies.

Oil on Canvas Board 


Here’s a 20-minute warm up pose I did today. Not bad. I’m pretty happy with it!

11.13.12 – 90-Minute Portrait of Karen

Oil on Canvas Board


After four shows, the Giants winning the World Series, and an eventful Halloween in October- I’m back in the studio, doing what I love the most: painting stuff. Here’s a pretty academic oil portrait of our awesome figure model, Karen. 

Shedding Expectations

I really believe that we don’t really change…we all come to be who we always have been. This one is part of my first series in a time of self-reflection and shedding of expectations. It’s finding the little kid in you that
dances as an ultimate “Fuck You” to a society full of false idols and unattainable expectations. 


Oh, and in case you’re worried, I actually haven’t been very dark and twisty these days. On the contrary, actually. You have to be in a good place in life to express the shittier parts. 🙂