It started with Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. I had first seen his work (in person) in 2010 when I serendipitously walked into the Tate Museum in London to see the entire main floor covered with 100,000,000 hand painted porcelain sunflower seeds. (And, no, there are no extra 0’s in that sentence.) Nothing could have prepared me for that encounter. Needless to say, I was in awe.

Fast forward to 2014. I had heard that Ai Weiwei was creating an installation to be shown on Alcatraz. It was right about then that Brenda Way of ODC/Dance contacted me to see if I would help out with a show that they had been asked to perform during the opening night gala of the Ai Weiwei @Large exhibit on Alcatraz. So it began from there. I created a video piece and some lighting concepts for the ODC site-specific performance. Thanks to Cheryl Haines (of San Francisco’s own Haines Gallery), opening night included an exclusive Ferry ride out to the island, a sit down dinner, a performance by ODC, and of course some art by the Sunflower Seed guy. One of the pieces included Lego portraits of 175 “Prisoners of Conscience” made from 1.2 million Legos.

Rivaling the Art in sheer spectacle was the opening itself, with tickets ranging from $1000 to $10,000, and a good number of guests’ outfits going for even higher yet. I just have to say “Thank you Cheryl”, for a really well stocked bar.

It’s too bad Ai Weiwei couldn’t be there himself. He is, after all, under house arrest and not permitted to leave the country. The only thing more ironic was the Ai Weiwei Luggage Tag that was neatly tucked into the Swag Bags.

Fast forward to the ODC 2015 home season which was to be an evolution of the show that was performed on Alcatraz. For the season show in San Francisco I created some more video (for the performance itself) and, of course, these pictures. They were used in all the promotion, advertising and programs during the home season run.

I bring all this up because I was also fortunate enough to have these images chosen for the Communication Arts 2015 Photography Annual.

I’ve heard that every picture tells a story. I know that I will never look at sunflower seeds the same. As for the rest, I can only say “Everything is Awesome”.

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