Painting without permission.

Growing up the oldest of 14 kids meant spontaneous parties, soccer games and fort building assembled themselves with little effort and I always had an army of accomplices for renegade activities.

When I turned 16, my dad gave me an eggshell color 1971 Chevy Impala to ferry my siblings around town. The car’s magnificent length distracted me from much gratitude. A few weeks later, my parents left a gaggle of siblings in my care for the weekend when they left town for a much deserved break. I went to the hardware store with my BFF. We asked the staff for help selecting paint for a “metal object that stayed outside – like a grill.” The perplexed store employee guided us to the cans of Rustoleom. Back at home, we poured the robin egg blue paint into a cookie sheet, dipped my three-year-old sister’s hands and feet in the sticky pool and instructed her to walk like a monkey on the car. She did and my art car was born.

Luckily my dad is both generous and wise. Following a few days of silence, the car (soon dubbed “The Beast”) and the paint job were absorbed into ordered chaos of our daily life later becoming a fixture in our town. The inside and outside of The Beast were my canvas until I went to college. At various times The Beast wore psychedelic patterns, quotes and political messages, and during my senior year an entire beach scene.

This first experiment with altering found objects, ephemeral art and messaging folks in passing was also a transformative experience in living outloud, a practice I’ve taken up again years later.

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Today I still want to paint things that do not belong to me. I channel this deep desire to write on the wall into love notes – often painted and covertly hung on chain link fences. I’m still captivated by catching people’s eye or heart in transition and feeling for brief seconds the innate connection, the web of commonality between us.

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