The Starving Artist

I gave up a dream when I was younger. It faced too harsh denial from people I loved, so I buried it. It didn’t just die though, it was offered a final installation: a funeral. And not the kind of funeral where people weep to see it gone, the kind of funeral where a hitman needs to hide a body quickly and digs a shallow grave in the swamp for the crocs to find it. And that’s where my art rested, rotting slowly in the fangs of crocodiles in distant, muddy dismay. It became foreign to hold a pencil, and it became painful to see it become foreign. And from time to time I’d dig it up and shake off as much mud as I could and parade it around like it was still alive and worthwhile, propped up on sticks and eyes taped open. But the dead remain dead. At least, that’s what I thought.

The last thing I thought I’d be doing in Mexico was surviving as a starving artist. Legitimately, a starving artist. A feast of beans and rice, and occassionally tortillas sustained me initially, and as much paint as I coud handle. An abrupt flight to Mazatlán lead me to an adorable hotel for MX$150 a night (which is roughly US$12). It was quaint, with my own bathroom and lofty ceilings that echoed in the old architecture. But it was quiet. There was no hustle or bustle of interesting travelers to meet. So I had to move on, for the sake of my nature. I threw my 50 lb pack on with a rough idea of where I wanted to go and walked for one and a half hours to the Funky Monkey Hostel down Ave. del Mar.

Salem didn’t bother to hesitate welcoming me when he caught sight of a confused backpacker wandering by the door. I’m obviously not the first to have wandered aimlessly, and his comfort and quick rescue was much appreciated. A few days later, I was offered free stay in return for painting a mural. Fan-freaking-tastic. I had painted a smaller mural in Playa del Carmen, and now I was painting in Mazatlán! Friends joked that at this rate, they could take the “Tour of Courtney’s Mexican Art” and I was ecstatic to revive the dead dream… truly the last thing I suspected to keep me afloat in Mexico, and the last thing I thought I’d be chasing.

Jason, another guest at the hostel, chose to postpone his plans for the chance to film the mural’s creation… art of art.

First off, Jason is insane. On a whim I threw out that the blank purple wall would be an awesome spot for a mural, but given the fact that it was above a stairwell a ladder would not be a suitable way to paint. Jason mumbled that he wished he had more rope, I threw out that I have a throw rope for whitewater kayaking, and next thing you know… Jason had built a harness using a hammock as a seat to hoist me up so I could paint. I half regretted initially thinking out loud, but I made him test the contraption before I dared set foot in it, and it held weight perfectly. It was just the fact that it happened so spontaneously that caught me off guard.

Mazatlan Mural

Mazatlan Mural

So many dots...

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