I am finally getting around to the new year and reflecting on the old. It took me a month to settle back into things, after the crazy December travel and show and studio commission schedule. Now, I am back in the studio and being productive. What a year 2015 was!
Here are a few highlights: There were many more, but I’m not writing an encyclopedia, just sharing the really fun stuff. Who am I kidding? It’s all fun stuff!
I refer to myself as “we” because Team Paintjam is a group effort. From my manager, Justin Sudds and his assistant, Gail Nishi, my web guy, Gordon Ogden, my wife, Cindy, who does the books and helps me in countless ways, to my tour manager, James Mackey, who sets it all up so I can knock it all down, Team Paintjam is very much a group effort and why we are slam dunking these events! No man is an island.
In January, we performed at the Waldorf Astoria with the amazing Las Vegas headliner, Ventriloquist Terry Fator. We raised money on the sale of my paintings of Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Lady Liberty for charity. Terry was very nice to hang out with back stage. What a talent. Wow!
We painted for a synagogue in West Hollywood and performed Tevya from “Fiddler on the Roof”. What a hoot! And again we raised money for their cause. We really enjoyed kibitzing with the guests afterwards. L’chaim!
In February: Boca Raton Concours d’ Elegance with Howie Mandel. That dude is hysterical!
We have performed for this amazing event for several years now with Jay Leno, Bob Newhart, Dennis Miller, Dana Carvey and now this year, it will be with Jay again.
I can’t wait! They have raised as much as $3 million dollars in one night for Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Broward County and we are honored to be a part of it. It’s a treat to simply be at the Boca Raton Beach Club and drool over the amazing cars and wonderful to be included year after year.
We rocked a halftime show for the ACC conference in Greensboro, NC and were also able to tour the Civil Rights museum there where my painting of Dr. Martin Luther King hangs in the conference room. The painting, sold at auction, was donated to his son Martin Luther King III and was then donated to the museum a few years back.
We received a guided tour from the management and it was humbling and inspiring to see the actual Woolworth’s lunch counter where the movement all got started.
There was a hush of reverence in the place as tour groups of children and adults learned about the brave men and women who fought for equality.
We flew to NYC to perform on the “Good Morning New York” Television show and Painted Martin Luther King Jr on his day. (This was our second appearance on the show.)
We performed for a private birthday party for an internet technology tycoon and his guests in Atlanta. Small crowd, big party. A very memorable night.
NYC for Google. We have been honored to perform for Google quite a few times now and I enjoy telling my YouTube story for them. It seems that I am becoming a google evangelist! I like that. YouTube changed my life for sure.
This time I shared the stage with internet sensation and author John Green (“The Fault in Our Stars” ) and Snoop Dog. He was indeed the shizzle and super nice backstage to hang out with. Producer Wes Anderson ( I was geeking out! ) spoke, as did magician David Blaine – since my daughter is a professional magician, that was special for me.
I am amazed to be included in this group. Wow!
We performed for Google once again, this time in Dublin, Ireland and had a week to tour the home of my ancestors and explore castles, pubs, neolithic ruins, the Guinness brewery and Jameson distillery. It was fantastic. Sláinte!
On to Los Angeles for Google and Hot Springs, Arkansas, where we were treated like kings and queens and performed for the city with a rare public show. Tornadoes and rain hit hard but the show went on. Small towns ROCK!
Then, there were the Houston Symphony performances. We pretty much sold out three shows at the prestigious, Jones Hall!
I performed 8 pieces on stage with the full Pop’s Orchestra with the legendary conductor Michael Krajewski. What a show! The Houston symphony is world class.
The performance featured speed paintings as well as other attempts at branching out with various mediums. I told a visual story with sand art. I painted from behind the canvas, I painted with a black light and fluorescent paint on glass and even with glue and glitter!
And then there was the hilarious audience participation “drawing lesson” and the lady that was chosen was a tourist from South America and this was her first day in the U.S. She was fun! She loves this country!
Quite an experience! And with my family and friends in the audience, I could not have been happier.
Paintjam was rated the best show of the 2015 pop’s season! ( That fact still blows me away! )
Being on stage and performing while the full orchestra played, as I rehearsed my Bohemian Rhapsody sand art made me teary with emotion. I knew we were doing something cool. It was truly astounding to hear and feel.
I cannot thank you enough, Houston, my hometown for the love and support you have shown.
As a boy, I saw symphony performances at Jones Hall and it was a dream come true to play there. I have played Madison Square Garden and the Venetian in Las Vegas. Nothing comes close.
Our next Symphony performance will be at the Kennedy Center in April with the National Symphony Orchestra and we have another booking lined up with the Wichita Symphony in the fall. The dream is moving forward.
We performed in Washington D.C. for an iconic political group, and I must say, that they LOVED Lady Liberty!
We performed for a Private School in Lubbock with Terry Bradshaw who was speaking and had the audience in the palm of his hand. He was gracious and a blast to hang out with after the show. That dude can sing! We also raised a good amount of money for the school with a painting auction.
We painted pet portraits for an animal shelter in Houston. I love animals.
I took my parents to New Orleans and enjoyed music and dinner with them at Arnaud’s.
It was a magic moment to see my father moved to tears by the music from his youth. The three piece band came table side to play and it was simply too much joy for him to contain.
Beautiful. Then, we performed for a luxury brand cigar company. We were all moved to tears by the smoke! It was a great trip. One that I will always remember.
We performed two shows for the Hollywood Casino in Bay St Louis, MS. Our casino show is coming along. Exciting stuff. The Audience and event staff were very kind.
I performed for my Alma Mater, Sam Houston State University and we raised money for the sports association.
Another great honor for me. They also recently awarded me with my degree in Fine Arts. I was a few hours short and always regretted not finishing. They kindly applied my life experience towards my degree. Humbling.
The education I received there prepared me for success as an artist. I have been making a living at my art since I was 19 years old. Thanks Sammy Bearkat!
Off to Athens, Greece for Google. A 14 hour flight, one day off in Athens with my boo, then perform and knock it out of the park, then another 14 hour flight back to change planes in Houston and off to Knoxville.
It was incredibly romantic and amazing to see the Acropolis and think about how the ancients lived. The food and wine was also amazing. The bouzouki music and the uzo… Partying with the Brits and Greeks and Americans who were also presenting until 2 am… A short, but great trip! I slept well on the plane.
Before our hour-long VIP show at The River Rock Casino in Vancouver, the unthinkable happened. We are new to shipping our entire stage show (1,500 pounds of stage gear and canvas ) through customs. We normally have three paintings per show and have very little trouble with customs. An hour long show meant a lot more gear, so we hired a shipping company to negotiate the details, manifests and all the legal stuff. They assured us that there was plenty of time. 3 weeks seems reasonable, right? Wrong!
We arrived in Vancouver and the gear was still in Seattle. And the Thanksgiving holiday meant that they would not move for days. Not a pleasant surprise! We were dumbfounded!
So we went to the Vancouver Home Depot and bought wood and tools and plastic and we built props for two days and delivered an hour long show. We were putting finishing touches on 30 minutes before curtain.
And the audience loved it! When the going gets tough, Team Paintjam gets going and the show goes on!
I have never been so proud of my team.
The Cotton Bowl is becoming an annual event for PaintJam! We paint for the team’s dinner where families and players all meet and socialize.
We finished the year off on New Year’s Eve in Conroe, Texas for Child Protective Services. Again raising money for a good cause and going out with a bang!
On a personal note: My youngest daughter graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in economics. Another daughter bicycled 1,500 miles along the west coast and then toured New Zealand. My kids are all doing great. My parents are still healthy and strong, as is Cindy’s mom. 2015 was an amazing year, and 2016 has more amazing things in store!