This was such a wonderful and unique experience! This mural was for the Seattle-based, world broadcasting non-profit radio station KEXP. For this mural I collaborated and painted with fellow artist HeraWon (See her Interview below). The project was initially created by Barry from KEXP and Jonathan Wakuda, friend and fellow artist. Wakuda’s been creating art for KEXP for some time now in both their old and new locations. The concept for the wall, located in the staff offices, was to highlight iconic women in music and what better way to convey this, but by enlisting the talent of a leading artist (who happens to be a woman) HeraWon. After brainstorming with Hera, they decided on a tribute mural of legendary Patti Smith. Later they approached me about the collaboration knowing I would L O V E not only collaborating with Hera, but also working at KEXP, building their art collection with Wakuda, and tributing Patti Smith.
KEXP is a nonprofit arts organization serving music lovers through in-person, broadcast and online programming. KEXP operates one of the most influential listener-supported radio stations in the world, 90.3 KEXP-FM Seattle, with online and on-air service reaching over 200,000 global listeners each week.About KEXP:
The portrait Hera decided on of Smith, titled “Patti Smith In Amsterdam”, captures her in black and white film, dressed in an Air Force uniform. Her face is stands out from her super black hair and her demeanor defiantly carefree. Hera chose to centralize this portrait in the middle of the wall, asking me to use my style to create an energy field around her.
When it came to my portion which comprised mostly of the background, it was challenging. The photograph selected was black and white. Patti Smith is almost always exclusively shot in black and white film and therefore on edge about adding any color at all. All my past work is vibrant and showcases hyper greens. When I think if Patti Smith I think of the grays of large cities like Chicago, New York, Berlin, and Amsterdam. So, in a burst of inspiration I remembered that KEXP itself if a colorful and imaginative environment. You have to be to bring all the range of music to your listeners. So I started to ask myself questions. How can I link Smith and KEXP? How can I connect them to the viewer and listener? What does that look like? I therefore chose to put color and movement to her lyrics rather than her herself. I selected saturated and rich colors and played them into psychedelic shapes, organic and clashing all in the same. These emitted out from her portrait, along with geometric triangles for just a bit of structure, but not too much. From afar these all intersect at the top of the wall and then thrust out across the ceiling, not wanting to stay confined to the wall… very much in a Patti Smith kind of way. So, together Hera and I created a piece we feel is quintessentially KEXP, Patti Smith, Seattle, and us.
On the actual production of the piece, the most difficult part of all wasn’t the painting or even going up and down the ladder (I need the exercise), it was moving that ladder! I just made that connection that the larger the ladder, the heavier it is! What genuinely helped was Barry staging everything for us and Wakuda masking off the area around the mural. These two tasks really are the most dreaded and time consuming so I thank them immensely for all their supportive work.
One thing I loved about being in the KEXP space was listening to the live stream live. Typically we listen Saturday mornings from the comfort of our home. What made this so unique and exhilarating was I WAS THERE. I was part of the environment that was bringing music to people listening at home. That made me feel like I was adding to the magic that KEXP brings to their audiences daily. And now I’m permanently part of the space that services so many people. It was an honor that I’m still reeling about.
Please enjoy your exclusive HerWon interview below and few fun photos of the process. If you find yourself in Seattle, at the Seattle Center, and at the KEXP gathering space, please ask for a tour and visit our Patti Smith Mural.
Angelina (179) & HeraWon
HERAWON INTERVIEW By 179
What is your name / artist alias? Does this have any special meaning?
I’m HeraWon. In Greek myth, she’s the formidable goddess/queen and patron of women and family, who’s gotten a bad rap throughout modern eras for being as tough as the male gods. Growing up, stories like this stood out to me as a reminder that the strongest women in history were usually the most vilified and disparaged.
How would you describe your art and where does your inspiration come from?
I’ve always been drawn to figures and characters of strength and contrasting elements, or portraits that symbolize a certain dichotomy.
What was the process for choosing Patti Smith?
Patti’s a musical icon and punk godmother who’s unapologetic style and strength proves that feminine does not mean fragile.
What are your goals for the rest of 2019?
To paint some more worthwhile walls, spend meaningful time with people, and read more books.
What do you like to listen to when being creative?
It depends on the project and inspirational mood, but most days I start out with Childish Gambino or Bowie.
Where can we find your artwork to purchase?
I have available works currently on Instagram/hera_won.