14 of February
There’s a pretty long list of things I like to rant about, and the reason for that’s quite simple: I’m very opinionated. One of the subjects that gets my jets going is graffiti and simply how great it is: when it became popular, artists I’m fond of, the best brands of spray paint, and what’s-your-tag-by-the-way-? Today I spent the day bikini-clad at the beach by my house and ended up with a fantastic reason to have a graffiti-rant. (Although a reason to do it isn’t mandatory.)
The sun was still yawning between pillows of clouds and the blanket of the horizon when Papa jostled me awake. “Time to go,” he whispered roughly, his voice still groggy with sleep. Ten minutes later we were running down the pristine beach as watercolor hues of violet were brushed across the belly of the morning glory sun, just beyond the edge of the world where the aqua ocean drops off. I love this part of the day; although I’m more of a nighttime person, the diminishing duskiness of the deep night that the universe shrugs off every dawn is fascinating to me. After our early morning run, we hurried home, making it there around seven to begin homeschooling at eight. The morning progressed in typical fashion, and soon we had completed our studies and prepared to head to the beach for the day with our guests, our friends from California.
Canibal Royal Restaurant’s chairs and low tables clutter the beach surrounding its open plaza and bar, the perfect setting to sneak in quickly and order a drink. I split from our posse on their trek to the western crescent of the coastline and made my pit stop at Canibal, but just as I was leaving, a man with a camera stopped me. He began to speak in rapid fire Spanish, much too fast for my elementary fluency, but I gathered that he was a street photographer and wanted one shot. Not knowing exactly what to do, I stood there in my baseball cap with my long blonde hair tousled unattractively down my back and gave him a half-moon smile, expecting to be done. But I guess the prospect of a quick shot was the lure into a photoshoot where he directed me in Spanish to take off my hat and flip my hair over to reveal the shaved off side. “Run your hand through your hair,” he instructed. “How old are you? Twenty four?” I smiled and dropped my chin to my chest, hooding my eyes and unable to decide if I should tell the truth. “Twenty?” The photographer quizzically continued, and I decided to go along with that. “Yes, twenty.” He asked me what I was doing in Playa, and I told the truth: I’m an artist. I soon lost my sunglasses and my sling bag I always carry, which made me slightly more trepidatious than I had been when the question was for just a few photographs. I ended the impromptu session when the photographer suggested we go upstairs to shoot some more, shook his hand, exchanged names, and power-walked my way outta there.
I made my way down the coastline to my family’s spread, laid a towel down, and pulled out my headphones, sketch book, and antique can of French Parfums that I use to hold my pencils. The iPod primarily held my immediate attention as I figured out what tunes I was craving, and finding myself in a decidedly mixed sort of mood, and I flipped to shuffle. I sketched the woman with the big “Family” tattoo across her back in dodger lettering as she was smoking and squinting at the toy boats from the expansive newsreel of the beach. Lightly outlining a catamaran in the bay, I called out to my sister Kira to go walking down to a different section of the beach, roughly a mile and a half down. She obliged, to my evident joy, and like schoolgirls, we jounced down to the graffiti wall. Now, a brief history about this “wall”:
It was originally concrete brick, and separated and old, undeveloped lot from the sandy seashore, until the Hilton Hotels bought the property and began construction on another modernized, out-of-place, shit-hole hotel for more tourists- the people who come, use our land carelessly and liberally, and then retreat back into their wealth and carelessness. Hilton tore down the concrete wall with the diverse array of artwork adorning it and personifying the white sand. Kira and I made our way down, and I copiously scribbled the tags and websites of the graffiti artists on the back of my sketch book. It was then that I noticed the four men at the far end of the wall.
Two Hispanic twenty-somethings were crouched on haunches by plastic Oxxo bags of spray paint and brushes. Cans of paint: a splattered, bloody red, slicing ivory black, and mocha browns, mediating the cutting first colors, sat squat between two more men. One was shirtless and I could make out a mush of tattoos chronicling stories down his sides as he dabbed at the wall with a brush. The other held a can of spray paint and had plugs the size of ping pong balls in his lobes plus a myriad of striking tats. My sister and I deliberately stood, rather stupidly, in front of the quartet for nearly ten minutes as I debated talking to them. “Do you understand how big this is for me, Kira? This is it, the true launch of my graffiti career! Whoo-hoo, I’m going to be famous!”
Kira: Then go talk to them.
What if they don’t speak English? My rudimentary Spanish doesn’t really have a good graffiti-vocabulary; I’ve got an “Idle chitchat” vocabulary, shopping vocabulary, an–
Kira: –This is not you. The Maia I know would just go up and talk to them!
That comment got me going, reminding me of Mum’s words just a few weeks earlier, “I don’t know you”. And lucky for me, the man with the spray paint, after periodic turns to glance at us, took a step in my direction. I did the rest of the work for him, grateful that he had initiated the confrontation. I asked in Spanish if he spoke English, to which he responded no, so I apologetically continued in my iffy Spanish, explaining that I’m an artist who lives in Playa, I’m interested in his work, and does he have a way I can contact him? He asked my name, wrote down a contact on my sketchbook, and told me that they’d be at the same place the next day. I tucked my work next to my headphones into the bag I always have at my hip, hooting and jumping up and down ecstatically before Kira and I were out of the mens’ earshot. I slapped her butt and pranced about giddily- fist pumps and all- the whole mile and a half back down the beach. Someone was blasting Jay-Z at the beach club, Mamitas, and I unabashedly joined in with him, to the half-disbelieving stares of tourists. The snowbirds lolled their eyes over me despondently- they’ve seen much crazier on the exotic Mamitas beachfront. When we made it back down to the family at the second crescent of the bay, I explained my good fortune to everyone, and the encouraging role Kira played. Without my sis, I wouldn’t have even seen the artists, let alone confer with one. All the monotonous dirt roads home, Kira laughed at my uncontrollable bouts of excitement and thank you speeches (“I’d like to thank Jesus, for being Jesus, and God Thy Father, I’d like to thank my supportive parents, and most of all, my lovely sister for dragging herself down the beach with me on this glorious day. I’m gonna be famous! This is IT! YEEahhh buddy!”)
Here’s three links that I highly recommend looking at if you have a creative bone in your body and an ache to do something awesome, or you’re trying to force one of your bones to turn creative. More to come!
Although we all know the history of Saint Valentine entails justified criminals, decapitation, and bloody love letters, in honor of Love Day, here’s an amazing short clip that I absolutely adore, however lacking in decapitation. The artistic style, grace, and originality with which it was executed truly adds life to the simple storyline, instead of abbreviating allegory. It makes me proud of my absent-minded paper-ariplane habits. Please watch! (In case you aren’t computer-saavy, highlight the link, go to Edit, Copy, and then clip paste in your search bar.)