As street and graffiti art continues to make the transitional move indoors to gallery walls, low-brow painter and pop culture anarchist, Dave MacDowell, has headed outside with his first ever mural project. It is the largest work he has ever created and hopefully the beautiful start to more large-scale work from him. The mural entitled, "Love Conquers All," was organized by urban art curator, Luna George. She's the mastermind behind the "Hello World" urban art transformation project at The Service Station, a renovated 1960’s gas station which offered a ideal rear wall canvas. Around the property, salvaged shipping containers have been arranged to showcase works by 40+ artists.
I met up with Dave to catch a sneak peek of his work in progress. I had never seen Dave paint before. It's thrilling and a rare treat. Dave was sun burnt, but not burnt out. The mural features a cast characters who are frequent regulars in Dave's work. The mural is vibrant, larger-than-life and brings an instant smile to your face. I was surprised, a tad bit nervous and so honored to be invited back Friday to assist him paint.
Yes, it was bit of a Tom-Sawyer fence-painting ploy. But come on, to be asked to paint and learn side-by-side with Dave MacDowell is the opportunity of a lifetime! Plus, my dog, Henry, was able to join in the fun. Henry and I showed up at 9 AM and ended up staying till 10 PM. And we loved every minute of it.
Friday was a glorious, sun-drenched LA day and this was the last big push of the week-long effort. Dave went out of his way to make me feel welcome and part of the team during the whole experience. He has an enviable ability to stay super positive, keep things light with his great sense of humor, and push past fatigue to keep painting fast and furious.
I didn't have time to watch the paint dry because by 11 AM, the mural was radiating quite a bit of heat. A great friend, who Dave has known since childhood, came by with a huge, welcoming shade tent that we happily shared. Artist, Carissa Martin had been helping Dave most of the week with the lovely background elements. New York artist, Joe Bottari went all out feeding our stomaches and our spirits with an unexpected kabob grilling and margarita blending.
Dave assigned me the Porky Pig homage portion. It started out relatively straight forward, for Dave, but I had a few suggestions. Keep in mind, Dave is amazingly easy-going and we have a history where he's been open to giving my often random ideas the benefit of the doubt. So, I thought I'd pitch a few tweaks. So, over the course of the day, little by little, Porky morphed into a Hitler-esque type character wearing a Liberace-style jacket that I painted with glitter (My homage to Angelyne, LA's Former Billboard Queen, who has a penchant for employing glitter in her art).
This was huge bonding experience. During the course of the day, conversation flowed easily from subject to subject. Sometimes we would just quietly go about our tasks while listening to classic rock. But, what I found most interesting was Dave and Carissa's unrelenting commitment to their art, in spite of people and circumstances that were not always supportive. They have a one-of-a-kind vision they wish to share with the world. They have the un-stoppable drive to defy the odds and stay true to themselves. They simply live to create.
There is a Dave MacDowell "Love Conquers All" limited edition t-shirt available that was produced by Souldriven Clothing. I lucked out and got one as a gift from Dave. On Saturday, during the day-long opening event, artists, John Park and Van Saro took the already amazing mural wall to a whole new level with their additions. You have to see the finished collaborative masterpiece for yourself!
The "Hello World" show is on view through May 18th at The Service Station in Los Feliz.