Terbo Ted ‘Dia de Los Muertos’ Installation

at On Mars Salon, 210 Fillmore at Haight, San Francisco

October 4 - November 10, 2011

I am extremely Grateful for this opportunity to participate in the culture of my homeland through this Dia de Los Muertos themed art installation at On Mars Salon.  Best wishes to all of the staff and patrons of this establishment.

Dia de Los Muertos in itself is worth mentioning.  San Francisco proper used to be part of Mexico, and Spain before that; the Latin culture here is unique to itself in the world.  Growing up here, it’s part of my life, undeniable in its influence on my life and works.

Our proximity to Haight Street is of multi-layered importance to these works.  My great grandfather lived at Haight and Webster as a child, before the great 1906 earthquake; this is my ancestral stomping grounds.  I myself as a young man spent lots of my early twenties in this neighborhood, living at Haight and Scott and other locations half my life ago.  The Grateful Dead should also be mentioned; my life has been in the periphery of their brilliance; skulls are a huge part of their- and our- visual identity.

I first started making skull artwork in the mid-90s.  In 1995 I made a trip to Chichen Itza in the Mayan Yucatan, to witness the centuries old equinox celebration at the Temple of Kulkulkan, the great pyramid there.  At the ruins- ball courts near the ancient city center- rows of life size human skulls are carved in limestone, a thousand years old.  Seeing these in person made a great impression on me.  Not long after, in 1997, my daughter was born.  Around this time, I created an early internet collaborative project called ‘Death Patrol’ that was a series of cyberpunk/hacker themed web pages, full of buggy and glitchy rich media plugins, designed to shock, stun and crash early web browsers.  Part of atlasmagazine.com, it was in the first trio of websites added to the Permanent Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1997, and it is still online to this day in it’s original form.  The modern QR Codes in the lower corner of many of the pieces at On Mars Salon link to the vintage Death Patrol website, a digital fingerprint: provenance.

A photographer friend commented this year that they don’t like skull imagery, because it represents death.  Certainly, ‘Dia de Los Muertos’ translates as Day of the Dead.  While I am enormously respectful of day of the dead- and remembering ancestors- the skull imagery means something different to me as a person.  To me, it is a representation of the enduring human condition, how we live greater than just our time. Our bones, while they still return to dust, outlive our living body.  I get off on the concept of “Immortality Gratification”, the idea that we as individuals live beyond our natural lifespan by our works and deeds; that our residue leaves memories that lead to our time being recalled by others in the living world after we are gone.

These objects are made to withstand all kinds of calamities: mixed media on plywood, covered with various varnishes to protect against the elements.  One of these skulls in your life may very well live as long as you and even longer; all the hope is that these life spans are as long as you can imagine.  I am certain that a great amount of my skull artwork will long outlive me.

Over the past decade, I have made more than 600 skulls in this 12”x12” format.  It has become an annual event for me to make these each fall.  Bought out earlier this year- literally, down to like five or so, I made more than 200 this past season.  People who have been collecting my works over the years may have one or more of this ongoing series.  Indeed- to you- I extend the invitation for you to add one to your life. You can also give them as gifts, or set up larger installations as shown here.  Anything is possible.  Everything you see here is cash and carry; don’t worry, if you take one or more of them off the walls, there are more of these waiting to take their place.  Also, there is a box of loose, uninstalled ones if you don’t want to endure the hassle of unfastening one to take home.

Don’t be afraid of death, and travel safely through the physical world.  Love and peace to all.

@3 years ago