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13 Hours of Art Basel

Most believe that Art Basel Miami Beach is one of the most important art shows in the United States. It has been called “the Olympics of the art world” with fairs and events that blow it up to the highest level. This year was no different, and I was there to experience it as both spectator and contributor. Thanks to an offer from the internationally known ‘Flower Guy’, artist Mike DeFeo to paint a massive mural in the Wynwood section. Of course I was thrilled and graciously accepted his invitation. By the time we returned to the spot picked for the mural with our tools of mass production, the sun had set. So we spent the rest of the night exploring gallery parties and enjoying the vibe of the city.

I started my first hour of work the next morning getting comfortable with the motorized lift and surveying the huge negative space where the mural would be created. My blank canvas was the outside wall of a warehouse on 101 NE 28th Street and I envisioned the colossal Grandpa head as it would be on canvas. I knew that the preliminary sketch was crucial to a successful outcome. On such a large surface, the scale could easily be done incorrectly without the use of an artist grid or projection. So as long as I mapped out the linear portion with care and patience, all would go smoothly. The color application took much more time to complete then the sketch, but it is the pivotal point for the entire operation. Looking hard at the wall with clear intent, I saw what was coming.

I began outlining the shoulders and collar by 8:30 a.m. After the gesture of the shoulders, I began illustrating the face from the bottom going up, completing the basic shape of the head contour and the facial features simultaneously. To force the onlooker to only look up when viewing ‘The Grandpa’, I began drawing at eye level. So when anyone walks by, they will always walk under it and therefore that negative space of the wall untouched by my hand is incorporated into the positive space of the artwork which adds to its large scale. I also had the help of a fellow artist, Farfan who held the poster size Grandpa that I was using as a reference.

As the face and head were being completed, the elevation grew. By the time I got to the sketching in the hair lines, I was near the top of the wall. Next comes the filling in of the hair with greys and white…outlining in black as I complete each fill-in. Then the forehead, down to the eyes, cheeks, nose, lips, chin, jaw, neck and shirt. So as I descended, I made sure those areas were fully flavored with ‘skittle colors’. That is how I describe my color palate, because of the ‘rainbow of hues’…bright and cheery, pleasant and pleasing to the eye like a multi-colored lollipop.

After the head, it was back up the lift to drench the wall with yellow. This time I was using my thumbs to press the can nozzle as my index fingers were stiff and numb from hours of spray-painting. The Miami wind was blowing that night, which it difficult to lean over the rail and paint 30′ up…but I was fearless and on a mission that only a hurricane would have stopped my progress. By this time it had been night for a while. The loud sound of the generator keeping the lights on the wall were working like a charm. Throughout the day and night, onlookers were passing by and shouting out their love for what they saw…it was gratifying to hear people express themselves positively toward my hard work. Eventually, Miami’s own, Tom Laroc of came by and it was an honor and a pleasure to speak about what people were witnessing and sharing with them a glimpse of insight on Fumeroism. (Click for Video from RUMBUM)

A little bit after midnight on Sunday, I was done…after 13.2 hours of painting…I was finally done with my task. It felt really good to stand across the street and look up at what I had created. As I proudly gazed at my master work, I saw it proudly project from the once barren wall with vivid life produced by line and color, shape and form. It was a moment of triumph, a test of my will and character. This undertaking was an object of my desire and I desired to rock it, because I rock any wall like I paint every canvas…I am Art.

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