On June 12, 2016 our nation had to bare the worst mass shooting in it's history. it is utterly heart breaking and hard to even fathom. I think almost all of us shared the same hurt. My heart dropped. I feared for my friends, thought of all of the loss, wished for more for our society. Feelings that most of us all shared. I wanted to try and help toward something better. So thus the birth of this art print charity.
Originally I was going to have these funds go toward an Orlando relief charity but I am so filled with happiness to see that SO many are donating in the millions. And although I believe every single dollar counts despite how much it's numbers climb I started to think, "where else can love go?" There is a clear cut truth happening and that is that too many lines are drawn. We all matter. We can all practice so much more tolerance. I am a shining example of that. I need to practice having tolerance daily. We all do.
I have decided to put my focus on just that. Tolerance, walls, understanding, and UNITY. If you strap a gun around your body or kiss a man you are all one in the same who I am speaking to.
How this print came to be:
When I first moved to Chicago I found myself very quickly and very fortunately cast in a beautiful production of the musical HAIR at the Paramount Theatre. I played a character named Woof. If you haven't ever seen this show I encourage you to do so. See many productions of it because the story and the painting of it are told differently from cast to cast and director to director. I don't want to be bias but I feel so grateful to personally deem the production I was in as the greatest telling of this story (this is with no discredit to other's experience in other productions of it). This is my opinion. I lived it 8 shows a week. I was lucky. I cannot describe the journey each and every show that I got to take.
It was a story of group of people facing the draft, war, love, hate, discrimination, freedom, life and death. I laughed and loved with my friends. I sang songs with them. I kissed a white girl. I kissed a black girl. I kissed a white man. I kissed a black man. I starred through the crack of a door and watched my friend die in waring gun fire. I touched his military coffin in disbelief as one of my now best friends who is leaving this city to be with his sick father looked at me telling me simply with his eyes "Yes it's real. He's gone. And you have to say goodbye now." I walked down an aisle of veterans reliving their all too true reality and past on a nightly basis as I wept, holding tightly onto my black friend named Hud. I literally stood naked on a stage with a group of amazing souls in front of thousands of people at the end of the first act daily in a singular voice to say, "This is my body. I am human. I am fragile. Do not kill me even though you can."
This may sound silly because ultimately we can chalk it up to make believe but as I sit here writing this I am welling up with feelings of joy and love and loss and sadness through this story I got to help tell. And I get to do that because I live in a society where I am given the freedom to. I am thankful, I am sad, I am angry, I am forgiving, I am lost and I am searching.
Toward the end of the production I created this piece at a cast get-together. It obviously stands for a lot. War, peace, new beginnings, death, tolerance, brokeness, nothingness and everything. The list in my artistic vision goes on and on. It is very special.
Each 5x7 print is signed and numbered by me and commemorating the name of one of the 49 lost lives below the earth with their age in which they were taken scripted on to the fin of the weapon burrowed into the floating piece of world.
Now..where your money is going:
As I have stated, I have decided to do something different. Have us think differently potentially. I don't necessarily think just I myself want more for us or the victims want more for us or their families but rather that WE want more for us. I'm doing my best to have my thoughts and intentions make sense. So with that, each print costs $10. With an initial $10 I have put in to start that will bring the total of sales to $500. So what I have chosen to do is split that up...
$100 will go to The Center- A foundation to provide a safe and welcoming environment with programs and services for the entire LGBT community. The programs range from volleyball, dance performances and cooking classes to rapid HIV testing, group therapy and vocational training.
$100 will go to Fallen Patriots- A foundation to provide college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.
$100 will go to BUILD- a foundation to engage at-risk youth in the schools and on the streets, so they can realize their educational and career potential and contribute to the stability, safety and well being of our communities.
$100 will go to Season Of Concern- a foundation to provide care for those in the theater community afflicted with AIDS-related illnesses, Season of Concern has raised tens of thousands of dollars from generous artists and theater patrons to benefit hundreds of people in the entertainment industry-actors, directors, designers, technicians, playwrights-who are experiencing health-related emergencies and medical issues.
$100 will go to The Soldier Project- a foundation to provide care to soldiers reentering civilian life and struggling with PTSD or depression.
Thank you for taking the time to read all of this.
Look, I'm just a dude trying to help. I don't have the answers and my view points aren't all the right ones. I make mistakes every day. I hurt people I love all the time. I fail every day and I learn every day. I know its hard because the world is a scary place but there are parts of it I KNOW we can help make less scary. We can look out for each other. Pull each other out of the dark. Let the sun shine in.