I have observed we live in a world that loves to tell stories, basically everything is a story that you see from the people that you meet, conversations had, and memories formed. Reality exists as a thoughtful narrative shaped by the words we use and decisions we make. I recognize this as a unique ability, a person can choose to exist as a person desires, and because everyone desires something, everyone makes decisions somewhat intentfully, propelling us through the universe in a direction that is aligned with a purpose that even sometimes without knowing we choose. I am a very intentful person, a very direct person, and a very honest person, there is nothing that I do without reason or for a purpose, and because of this I am able to exist as the person I desire to be.
I am a man who loves strategy and competition.
As you all have become very aware of over the last several years, I desire to be a great artist.
And great artists paint on things.
And sometimes great artists paint on things they aren't supposed to.
As some of you may have recently heard I broke the rules.
The one non-work related activity that I would say I am passionate about is cycling, Chef Steve is the one who convinced me to purchase my first bike and seeing just how much he enjoyed his rides, I quickly followed suit. Riding the trails over the last few years has given me a new appreciation for the beauty of Pittsburgh. Seeing the city from the bike trails is it’s own special perspective, cycling is my primary way of staying active.
I am 28 years old and have no cartilage in my left ankle, I live in chronic pain and every step I take is uncomfortable, stairs are not easy to take but I choose to take them every day. Beginning last summer I started leaving spray painted tags on various locations along the bike trail to add my art to the hundreds of other various tags and messages that you will constantly see while riding the trails. When I started doing this I only left the tags in discreet places that only I would know to inspire myself as I passed, reminding myself that the pain I constantly feel when I walk does not exist when I ride, so on the bike trails people begin to see my eye.
^Image credit: Vannevar Bush
The beginning of this summer was very much the same, but instead of tagging in discrete locations I left my tags directly on the trail to ensure that they were seen by every cyclist that rode over them. Painting a majority of them by large cracks in the trails that already had been spray painted to warn cyclists. Never in my mind did I think about anything else other than the opportunity to leave my mark on a place that can constantly inspire people that pass, and that is exactly what happened. I began to see people post photos on various social media platforms documenting the tags and their appreciation for them. I am never trying to throw my art into people's face, but I am trying to give them something that they can relate to when they see it.
A week and a half ago a woman began to complain on social media regarding the tags on the trail of course this engaged the rest of the very loud minority that chose to band together and call for justice as to what they called “disrespectful tags along the trails”. Quickly I began to receive bashing comments from all directions from a select few people, days later reporters began to call trying to use fear tactics to get me to make a statement, but of course that didn’t work, sorry guys.
As the noise grew louder and the loud minority more angry I received a call from a close friend informing me that the Executive Director at Friends of The Riverfront would like to speak with me directly to sort things out. Upon taking the call I apologized for breaking the rules and explained that none of it was meant to be disrespectful but simply to inspire. As the universe would have it, he was a fan of my work and expressed his excitement about the opportunity to work together to better Pittsburgh.
You see I have observed that we live in a world that likes to tell stories.
In the days that would follow this conversation I received numerous calls from reporters, all of which tried to use fear tactics, in which none of them worked, sorry guys.
Without a comment from myself or anyone actually involved in the matter some guy named Marty from the news station KDKA, that was able to use the internet, wrote a story about how disrespectful my tags are and how the police are investigating. This is what I heard all week from every reporter that called, as the correct parties behind closed doors with intelligent, respectful, civilized, and thoughtful conversation planned on how to work together.
To the people who feel that I disrespected the trail, I am sorry, I did break the rules, however I am very thankful and proud of the city for the support and encouragement everyone had, as the loud minority threw stones into the dark. It just so happened that the complaints that were said and stories that were written to bring negativity only built the steps for me to be introduced to the correct people.
Just so you hear it from me I won’t be tagging on the trails anymore, but just so you hear it here first, in the future I will be working with the people who build them.
I am not a bad person, but I am a renegade.
If you don't acknowledge negativity it can only work for you.
The trick is to care about everyone, while not caring what they think.