They say that hard times bring people together. If that saying is true, then I must be family with the people I just showed with in Puerto Rico.
Here is a picture of the gang during happy times
From right to left
Forget her name, but she had this long leg Devon Aioki look going on, Aristen (Swoon's assistant for this show), Tamara (who was a writer), and Lee (standing)
Second step: another girl who I don’t remember, Robi Bear, a friend of Jose and Rostar (standing)
Third step: Mikal (although I hung out with this guy, got along great with him, and had good conversations with I still had no idea of what he does other than he was one of the music guys), Rostarr, Me,Jose Parla (standing)
Fourth step: Another guy whos name I forget. I think he had something to do with the Truth and Soul record label, but I am not sure. and Zuleika (she was the 'closer' at the art fair. The sales person)
It started off innocently enough a few months ago when I was asked to be part of the Circa Art Fair in Puerto Rico (www.circapr.com). In 2003 I overheard Doze Green raving about Puerto Rico and a curator named Pablo. A few years passed, and I heard others speak about Pablo, and found out that he was involved with something named Candela. When good friend Adam 5100 visited his friend in San Juan, I half jokingly told him, if you run into a Pablo down in Puerto Rico, tell him I want to show with him. I mentioned Candela and Adam flew out a few days later. Well, as luck would turn out, Adam came through and managed to find the Pablo I was speaking about. They exchanged emails and Adam put me in touch with Pablo, and it was the beginning of what I thought would be a beautiful relationship.
Fast forward to early 2007, and Pablo hits me up to do this Art Fair. I didn’t need anyone to talk me into it once I saw the line up that would be present for this art and music event:
There were a few others that I wasn’t familiar with. At the end of February everything was set. The dates were set, I had forwarded my requests for travel times. Although I knew I was leaving on the last week of March, I had no idea of what time. By mid March, I still hadn’t received my itinerary and my supposed travel date was in 4 days. I had sent several emails but no response. I was starting to get worried. When I finally got my itinerary, it was a month after I was supposed to have received them when I did receive them; it was the same time that my girlfriend’s ultrasound was. Because I hadn’t received my flight plans, I had to make a doctors appointment. I did so as early as possible, but it was the same time as my Childs first ultrasound. Since I was a father to be, there was no way I was going to miss my baby’s first ultrasound. After going back and forth with the travel agent, I found out that I would have to pay $500 to rebook the flight. I was pissed. Even though Pablo paid for the flight, the rebooking came out of my pocket, even though it wasn’t my fault. I was already in this far, so I said what the hell, and paid the money.
The ultrasound was great. Baby is healthy, girlfriend is healthy, and I was going to go down to Puerto Rico to hopefully put some money to pay for the pregnancy while enjoying the hell out of myself in Puerto Rico.
Less than 24 hours to go before I hopped on the plane and I realized that no one had forwarded me any information for accommodations. I was going to be in Puerto Rico, but had no idea of where to go, where I was going to stay, whom I was going to meet, and I had no phone numbers for whom to call nothing. This should have been the second warning flag that the whole thing was about to go down in flames. This is where I should have paid attention to the signs and cut my losses, but no, I was the eternal optimist. This is how I got screwed in the end. Finally got the hotel info after a few frantic emails and I was off to Old San Juan.
flying into PR
Arrived in PR and took the taxi to the hotel. The hotel was more like a Caribbean hostel than a hotel. It had character, and the building was really cute, but not the digs I was looking forward too. The room was windowless and the bathroom was down the hall. Met Pablo in person, and a few other people as well. When I was shown to my room, there were bags and clothes, and other possessions in what was supposed to be 'my' room. After a few minutes of hesitation, Pablo decided the best solution was to simply throw the stuff out in the hallway, and put me in the room. I kept thinking that who ever was in that room was going to be pissed when they came back. Reluctantly I moved in, locked the door, and went with Pablo to the set up at the art fair.
Pablo one of the times where he stayed long enough to actually take a picture of him
This was the entrance to the hostel area. Each step had text on it that described the history of the building. It was pretty cool
The street down the block from the hotel. The cobblestone streets were aces.
View to the right of the Hotel
The fair was huge. At least to me it was. Since this was my first art fair, I was impressed with the number of galleries and amount of art concentrated into one space. In comparison to a place like Art Basel or Scope it is probably tiny, but everybody needs to start somewhere. Got there and had the pleasure of meting Jose Parla and Rostarr for the first time. I had read about these guys for years, so to see them in the flesh was great. Both were super nice guys. Also got to meet the assistant for Swoon who was installing her piece, as well as another artist, Robi Bear. Also met Zhara and Zuleika, who Pablo had flown down to man the booth. They were curators and had worked previous art fairs, so they were going to be the 'closers. The icing on the cake though was meeting Lee. The same Lee from Wild Style. One of the original fucking OG's from Graffiti. This guy is a living legend. Just like the rest of the people on this trip, he was amazingly humble, talented, and nice.
Lee - The one and only
The Assistant for Swoon, and others installing Swoons piece
Mikal was cool as fuck
Jose acting goofy in front of his work
Jose Parla, Robi Bear, and Rostarr posing
The quintessential 'Lee' photo.
Robi Bear and his work
From here on out, things slowly deteriorated hour-by-hour, day-by-day. Throughout the remainder of my trip, the people who were in this whole thing would be my saviors. The first night was a clusterfuck at the hotel. More people showed up, and we had about 20 people and maybe 15 rooms. We went out that night and got piss drunk and called it a night. People were shacked up 2 to a room.
The next day would only get worse. The fair was a bit slower than we thought it would be, which translates to lower than expected sales. That night however the hotel situation got even worse. Apparently Pablo had promised artists that they could use the rooms to install an art installation. So, we were instructed that we had to vacate our rooms for several hours while these artists installed their works. One room was 'decorated' to look like it had been flooded. With mud caked in the corners, and the walls stained with dirt, it looked more like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina than sleeping quarters. The 'best' part was that the sheets were washed with mud so that they had that authentic 'soiled' look. Not the most ideal for getting good nights sleep.
Here is a picture of the artist 'decorated' room to look like a flooded room
And another one
In my room it had some sort of mirror display that was supposed to reflect light around the room. I never quite got the intent of the piece, but the artist left it incomplete.
We also got to meet the 'maid' of the hotel. She wasn’t really a maid though. She was from Los Angeles and had decided on a whim that she was going to move to Puerto Rico. She had been in PR a few weeks prior, and decided to just uproot and move. She showed up the same day I did, with her bags in hand, and told Pablo, 'I sold all my stuff and moved to Puerto Rico'. I think he was a bit surprised by the announcement, but he gave her a job taking care of the rooms and hotel. She ended up being quite a character. I don’t think I ever got her name, but most people just started to refer to her at 'crazy hippy lady'. Within 5 minutes of meeting her, she would find a way to tell you about her recent divorce, her move to PR, and how great her sex life was with this one guy, but it wasn’t serious. It was like talking to a horny teenager. At one point she was talking with one person from our crew, and out of the blue says 'I have a box of condoms in my room, wanna go?'. He declined the offer, but you have to admit, that is room service. Over the days, she was a really nice lady, and she just added to the spirit of the whole trip.
Next day we were going to head to the art fair as usual to check on sales. To our surprise, we had no water. We were in bright sunny Puerto Rico, sweating my ass off, and I woke up looking forward to a nice relaxing shower, but no water. Not just in the shower though, nowhere in the house. Not in the sink, not in the toilet, nowhere. I was desperate for a shower though, so I went downstairs and got bottles of water from the bar that was attached to the hostel. Have you ever showered with ice-cold water from a bottle? Well, I will let you in on a secret - it sucks. I mean it sucks real bad. You feel like someone is plunging your body into a block of ice. I managed to wash my face and my nether regions, and I said to hell with this, and toweled off. I went downstairs to head to the fair, but surprisingly I couldn’t get out. Although Pablo was kind enough to give me keys to my room, he never gave me (or many of the other guests) keys for the front door. The door was a deadbolt lock, so I couldn’t exit the place at all. I could have left through the bar, but because it was closed, I couldn’t do so without leaving the front door wide open to a fully stocked bar. So I sat, and sat and sat in the hostel waiting for someone to come release me from my confinement. After an hour of doing absolutely nothing, someone finally came. I headed out with the hopes that I would be able to get back in to the hotel once I returned. Not the most relaxing way to start a day.
More art fairness
At the fair, there were still hardly any sales. Stayed most of the day chatting it up with potential buyers, but only talk, no money. People were happy to talk about the art, but they didn’t seem to have an interest in actually purchasing them. I had hoped to see Pablo there, but he was nowhere to be seen. Aside from the first day, I didn’t really see him too much.
This lady in a box was art, apparently. Who woulda thunk it? bobbies = art
Apparently if you print a Euro on a piece of cake, that is art too. But art that is tasty! I gobbled down 5 pieces, now I can poop art!!
That night we attended a party that was run in affiliation with the art fair. It was held at the Puerto Museum of art. One of the artists showing with us at the fair was also doing a live painting here. The beer flowed freely and the bar was open, almost ensuring that everybody had a good time. DJ Smallchange was spinning and had the entire place moving.
This nut was part of the art fair too. Not sure what his deal is, but he had a pretty snazzy outfit, wouldn’t you say?
Here is a shot of the museum party from above
This had something to do with the art fair. I didn’t meet her, but I was in awe of her ability to match her glasses to her belt, waistband, cumber bund type deal. Nail her to the wall, and call her art.
This piece was pretty cool. It was all 'drawn' with a sewing machine
This sculpture was pretty cool. It was made from hundreds of firecrackers, and M-80's. You know how hard it was not lighting that thing on fire?????
Some David LaChapelle photos
This sculpture was pretty cool. it was made of the innards of a calculator with a printer. The print function was networked on a timer so that intermittently the printers would begin to run, then abruptly stop, and cut the paper, which then fell to the ground.
This guy was in the same box as the boobie lady above. I guess they were taking turns being art.
You wanna talk about art??? take a look at the ass on that girl. Now THAT is art. I could frame that ham up and look at it all day. Plus the fact that she is dressed like a female captain morgan spokesperson!!! you add all that together, and you get a little sex, a little pirate, and a little liquor. that’s art.
These head were pretty cool. Sorta reminded me of the Bosen heads that my parents collected
Put a brain on a show. that’s art too. who knew??
You want to make art? just take an ordinarily mundane photo and add big eyes. yup, that makes art, apparently
This was a photo from Sandy Skoglund. I have loved her work every since college
Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to catch the opening of the hotel room installations. When we got back, most artists found that their rooms had been opened, and their stuff was relocated to another room where everything was piled on top of each other’s. This didn’t make any body happy, but we kept our heads up and got through the night. On the roof was a DJ set up where Bobbito spun. I didn’t get a chance to check him out because I had turned in early for the evening. After multiple rum drinks, I was self medicated nicely and opted for a long nights sleep instead of the party central. The party in the hotel charged on, and many of the artists kept it going till the sun came up. When you are staying at Casa candela, you get the distinct feeling that this is what it would be like if art schools had a fraternity house on campus. It is a bit odd.
This was up on the roof
From the Roof of Casa Candela. Puerto Rico at night
The next day I had the pleasure of hanging out with Rostarr, DJ Smallchange, and Mikal, a musician from Brooklyn. Rostarr had been to Puerto Rico previously, so he was able to give us a guided tour through old San Juan. The landscape there is beautiful, and when you get a chance to see it in a relaxed pace, it is really nice. After walking around all day, we deiced to get something to eat. We headed to this place that invented the Pina Colada. We sat down, waited for a waitress, and waited and waited and waited. We asked for service, and were told it would come, but it never did. We said fuck it, and left.
DJ Smallchange, Rostarr, Mikal, and me
Home of the Pina Colada
Rostarr knew of a place a few blocks down that was good, so we went there. After a short walk, we arrived, but it was closed. So was the next place we went, and the next place, and even the next place. We had been walking around for nearly an hour looking for a place to eat. Nothing was open except fast food, and I didn’t come this far to eat at McDonalds. We finally decided to eat at this place that was like the Puerto Rican answer to Subway Subs. They had some good grub, and considering I hadn’t' eaten anything it was just what I was looking for. This is when the most fucked up interaction happened. I was waiting for my sub, and my tray was lined up next to the other customers on the counter. This lady came up, leaned over the counter and was talking to one of the workers. The lady was older, maybe 45 or 50, with long grey hair. I noticed that as she was leaning over, her hair was running through my soda. I politely leaned in and said 'excuse me, but your hair is in my soda'. She looked back and with a sneer said 'you can move your tray'. I replied, 'or you can move your head'. I guess I must have really pissed her off, because she was shooting darts with her eyes. She said with the wicked witch of the west voice 'a little hair is not going to kill you'. To which I said, 'yes, but I didn’t order a hair soda either'. I guess she was finished with talking to the person behind the counter, because she turned abruptly and began to walk back to her seat, but no before she nearly screamed at me 'Go back to your own fucking country'. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t want to get into a fight with this old broad, but I was tempted to take this bitch down. I quickly realized that beating up elderly people in Puerto Rico would probably not be the best way to handle this situation, so I simply said in a loud, clear voice, 'I love you, have a great day'. And so ended the exchange. She went back to her seat looking like she was eating a shit sandwich. I replace my 'hair soda' and we ate lunch and continued to try and figure out what in the hell just happened.
See that lady in the denim shirt? yeah, she is the one that likes hair sodas
We didn’t make it to the art fair this day. With the level of frustration I had over the previous days, I said fuck it and decided to just take a day and chill out with Rostarr and Mikal. We all rendezvoused, and had dinner, had drinks, and headed back to the hotel to catch some shuteye.
I love this picture of the water. I may need to do another water stencil like I did a few years back
The next day came and I just wanted to get home. I had my pregnant girlfriend waiting for me back home, and I just wanted to be back with her. The next day was more of the same. Checked out the art fair, no sales and this was the last day of the fair. We were told that we couldn’t box up our work until the next day. Even though the fair was closed, and even though there was no body there, we still had to wait till the next day. I have no idea why. I said fuck it and decided to box my stuff up anyways. I had endured long enough, and I wasn’t about to give this fair any more of my time the next day. I went to get the boxes I brought with me so I could pack stuff up, but to my surprise, they were thrown away. Not must mine, every bodies. All of the artists that flew in for the show brought their work with them and took care to ensure they arrived safely. I know it may sound like a petty thing to bitch about not having boxes, but if you have tried to ship work through the airlines, you know how careful you have to be. I have mastered the art of shipping artwork. Now, every time I ship work, I wrap my work in bubble wrap, then put it a box, then put that box inside another box, and I insulate the space between with one inch Styrofoam. If it sounds a bit thorough, it's because it is. I have learned you can’t be too much of a neurotic freak when it comes to your packaging.
So here I was. No cardboard, no tape, nothing. Not a pot to piss in, and all I wanted to do was box up my fucking work and get the fuck out of Puerto Rico. When it became obvious that the boxes had been lost, and just when it was obvious I was (again) pissed off at the lack of organization and, Pablo decided it was time to go. He left, with no offer of assistance, no apology, nothing. I was getting use to being let down by this point. Zuleika had pulled through and got us cardboard to use. I patched together this ghetto version of the box I had before, and hoped that it would make it safely through the airline flight.
Rostarr, Robi, and Jose making boxes. Somehow I don’t think that Damian Hurst, Warhol, or Picasso ever found themselves having to make a ghetto boxes for their work
Next day was the big day to leave. The other artists had box up their work. I got there a little later since I had already boxed up mine. All I had to do was pick up my work. When I got there, Jose, Robi and Rostarr were boxing up their work. Zuleika was the rock steady person of the bunch and she was lending a hand in whatever way was needed. I heard that Lee was there at 6:30 am, but they didn’t let them into the convention center until 7:30. Once he got in to unstretch his canvases, he found out that no body had a screwdriver, so he couldn’t disassemble them.
Jose and Rostarr left and went to the airport. Me, Robi and Zuleika took a taxi to the hostel to pack up. We did a little last minute shopping for our loved ones, then off to the airport. As I left, it dawned on me that I never once heard from Pablo regarding the colossal collapse of organization. Never got an apology, didn’t get a 'thanks for being part of this', not even a good bye.
Jose writes a 'goodbye' to our host
Actin a fool
Jose and Rostarr rocking out one last time before driving to the airport
Its unfortunate that I visited Puerto Rico under the circumstances I did. I am sure it is a beautiful place, and has much to offer, but I left Puerto Rico with such a bad taste in my mouth that I doubt I will ever return. Some places click with me, and others (like PR) don’t. So have never been so happy to be in a plane in my life. As I was flying home, all I could do is think about getting home to my girl. I think from now on, I will be more cautious about the curators I work with, and the shows I agree to do.
Robi Bear and I wait for our flight out
You win some, you lose some. For this one, the score is Puerto Rico - 1 / Logan Hicks - 0
Good bye Candela and Circa Art Fair
Here are a few pics that have nothing to do with nothing
colorful streets of Puerto Rico
This is a girl who was too skinny. Not like the majority of other girls in Puerto Rico. I wanted to kidnap her and feed her sandwiches all day long
This girl was a dead ringer for Rosie Perez
me on some abandoned building. Photo by DJ Smallchange
I bet this thing was tasty
Lee has the dopest kicks. Puerto Rican colors, snakeskin adidas.
Best fucking red beans and rice I have ever had.
This was the 'graffiti' bar. The place was pretty cool, but the big scary transvestite in the place kinda made it creepy.
More graffiti bar
More Graffiti bar
Seems like any time I see a photo of Puerto Rico or Cuba or other Spanish speaking islands, there is always a photo identical to this.
Its not art unless you have a picture of Che Guevera somewhere in the 'hood
Another shot of the street near the Hotel
Having lunch with the boys
See the look on that kids face? yeah, that’s how I felt. That kid is gully as fuck!