"Spirit Crows" - by Keith Loker
"Keith Loker was sentenced to death in 1995 and is incarcerated on death row San Quentin. He is a talented artist, and he talks here about the painstaking process of "ink-stippling",which he uses in his art work to create beautiful pieces with great detail.
"Ink-stippling by hand is an art medium of precise dotting. As I sit hour after hour laying down individual dots it can induce a tediousness that I must be mindful of because in this process I cannot make a mistake since there is not a way to repair a missed placement of a single dot.
Each piece can take weeks into two months to complete due to the rest I must give mi fingers and wrist because this technique requires small precise movements from dot to dot which means I can only work each day for a certain amount of hours"
Tribute to Johannes Vermeer - The Milkmaid
"My first time cooking in jail was at Los Angeles County Jail, where all the gangs from the Bloods neighbourhoods were housed. We had a major lockdown, and they punished us with this ugly, bad-smelling food called "juit balls". They were supposed to be all protein, red beans, with many kinds of vegetables all ground together then packed into a ball with no type of seasoning. It had a pungent smell and you definitely knew when it was time to eat when it came into the building. Once I got my first taste of them I couldn’t swallow one bite, neither could any of the other guys. I had to think if I wanted to eat at all because this would be our meal for the next three weeks. So I cleaned off the paint from the metal shelf and made a bong out of the toilet paper and this became our stove. I placed the juit balls on that hot shelf and cooked so all the grease from the meat came out. With that oil, we added some chopped beef sticks and some bbq corn nuts and we made a good meal out of something that no one could eat plain. That was the start of my cooking behind these walls…"
"Here on the row we still try to celebrate all special occasions like birthdays, holidays and sporting events, which are big in here".
Ramen Fettucini (by Letner)
(dinner for 1)
1 Ramen soup
1 pinch of salt
1 pad of butter
1 tbs oil
2oz parmesan cheese
1 pinch of garlic flakes
Boil one cup of water, add unbroken ramen noodles with sale. When cooked, empty noodles into a bowl. Add butter, olive oil, and sprinkle parmesan cheese, stir until melted. Enjoy a real fettucini dish!
Peanut butter milkshake - (by "Ru-Al")
(drink for 1)
1 - 8oz glass of milk
2 tbs creamy peanut butter
1 small packet sugar
Boil 1/2 cup water, pour into cup. Wrap peanut butter inside piece of plastic, tie tight, put into hot water until melted soft. Pour into cup of milk and add sugar. Place lid on cup, shake for 3-4 minutes until well mixed and slightly foamy on top. Enjoy my peanut butter milkshake.
Albert talks a little about sharing food in the prison:-
"Many things have changed over the years in here. We had to make many adjustments to our cooking and how we prepare these spreads. The guards were instructed not to pass the cooked food to the guys in cells down the tier anymore. So now we make it where it can fit into a plastic bag so it will slide under the cell door. Or if the guy is on the same tier and I'm going to the shower before him, I'm able to pack it good and place it in front of his cell door. When he comes out for his shower he can pick it up, put in his cell, and reheat to eat later. The guards usually wont touch the food but sometimes they will do a cursory check for contraband. For the guys living on other tiers, we have to put the food in a bag and attach it to a long fishing line so it can be fished to him. So the new rules haven't completely stopped us from trying to bring some peace of mind and happiness to a guy that doesn't have anything. It's okay to eat by yourself but there is nothing like the feeling of sharing with brothers less fortunate."
Albert also makes paints handkerchieves, creating colourful collages of his favourite bible verses on fabric.
Albert "Ru-Al" Jones handkerchief art
"Mama always made sure that we said grace before we ate because "There are people that don't have any food to eat, so say a prayer or give thanks to the Lord and be grateful for what he has provided". I have not missed one meal in the twenty-one years I've been locked up, or in my life. I thank Mama for instilling those good values and the Lord for the blessings he's bestowed.
Lord, thank you for this food. Bless them that don't have anything to eat, and keep their stomachs humble until the Lord provides them nourishment. Lord, put this food in the right place in my body, in Jesus' holy name, amen. Jesus wept!".
My Last Meal
Since I 've been here there have been about six executions. Some got their last meals, and one guy wanted to donate his $50 but the warden wouldn't allow him.
I have given a lot of thought about what I wanted for my last meal. It would have to be very close to the favourite foods that Mama had cooked when I was growing up."
Albert "Ru-Al" Jones - San Quentin death row
You can purchase Albert's book here:
Albert has a "J" plan (Jesus Plan) and knows that this plan cannot go wrong even if things aren’t always good. Albert has a strong faith which he tries to share with as many people has possible.
Thank you for reading.
Telling Stories through Chicano Art. The Vibrant Collages of Life - by a prisoner on San Quentin's death row
"Warning" - by Luis Maciel
Luis creates Chicano Artwork, "artwork created by Americans of Mexican descent, Chicano art came out of the Chicano movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the art of struggle" read more here.
Luis has explained that creating his vibrant collages helps him to make sense of his environment. He uses pen and markers, and he can easily spend up to seven hours a day drawing. One drawing can take several weeks such is the detail – and it is all done freehand. “Art for me is an adventure in my personal life. Every drawing that I draw has so many stories to them”. Here are some of the drawings that Luis has created from his cell in San Quentin.
"The World is My Ghetto" - by Luis Maciel
"This one I called "The World is my Ghetto". First you must know what a Ghetto is. It is a life of struggles and sadness with a lot of violence. But there is a part of the Ghetto that's good friends and family. We all try to remove the violence from our Ghettos but we succumb to the bad life. In this drawing I'm bringing the good in,and taking out the bad. Let's start with the front. In this life there is a male alpha and he represents everything. The two standing besides him are his protectors. In this case it will be my mother and father. We must always protect the woman from any bad influence. That is the duty of a brother. The two cars - the blue one with "City of Angels" on it, that is my car. We call in slang Los Angeles, "City of Angels". The other car was my friend's car. He had "Califas". Califas is slang for California. I hold this car in high regards since my friend was killed in the Ghetto. The woman on the stair rail represents hell. Since we cannot see any sunshine we are stuck in this life of "Hell". Im speaking since I'm behind bars, this place is hell. The girl on top of her, she has two women. The women represent her ears. The woman on her right is the good, the woman on her left is the bad one. On top of her head, she has a fuse. On top of her you have Minnie Mouse. She wants the girl coming out of the wall which is again Hell. She is hoping that she could touch her nose so that she could bring her to goodness. The face on top is what I call a true woman. She is a fighter and she represents all mothers out there that suffer for their loved ones. The woman that has her hand on her chest - her nails are being impaled in her skin. She bleeds roses since roses are the most beautiful thing in the world. Her nail goes through her skin where she gave life. That's why the man is holding the rose. The guy holding the pencil, that's my hand. I'm bringing in the life of good and bad, plus I'm using the ghetto ink where I'm shown the art. This is why I call my drawing "The World is my Ghetto".
"AZTLAN" - by Luis Maciel
"Fire and Desire" - by Luis Maciel
"LOVED" - by Luis Maciel
Life has many obstacles and we are always trying to find that something that wakes our heart. If we do not find it, the reason is that have been moving too fast in life. Then when we do eventually find it, we do not know how to keep hold of it. Then we start finding other things that we believe is LOVE. So then we go through so many obstacles, that when we finally figure out that what we had was true love, we kick ourselves in the ass! Love can be found in almost anything but true love is hard to find. When you find it, get ahold of it, before you turn to "L O V E D".
"Wicked Ways" - by Luis Maciel
"The Struggle" - by Luis Maciel
"I love to draw. Sometimes I just go on drawing for hours and hours"
San Quentin death row
"UNCHAINED ARTISTS" - EXHIBITION OF ART FROM US PRISONS & DEATH ROW SAN QUENTIN - 15th January to 15th March 2018, Mill Valley, California
An art exhibition featuring artwork, poetry & various handcrafted art objects, created by inmates in prisons from around the USA & prisoners incarcerated on death row San Quentin.
15th January to 15th March 2018
Bank of Marin (Lobby)
19 Sunnyside Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Opening Reception : Thursday January 18th, 2018 - 6pm-8pm
“UNCHAINED ARTISTS”: From January 15th –Friday March 15th, 2018, both P.A.T.H. and ArtReach are collaborating for the first time in a joint international exhibit to take place in the lobby of the Mill Valley branch of the Bank of Marin during their regular business hours (10am-6pm; Monday – Friday).
This unique and thought provoking public show will feature artwork, poetry and various handcrafted art objects - all created by inmates in prisons from around the USA (P.A.T.H.), and prisoners incarcerated on death row at San Quentin State Prison (ArtReach). Art on display will also be available for purchase.
P.A.T.H. (Prison Arts Touching Hearts) was founded by U.S. artist, Leslie Lakes in 2015. Created to give a voice and validation to incarcerated artists (including inmate writers and poets) – those in the shadows and largely hidden to the public eye – while providing them with a vehicle to give back to the community in a meaningful and powerful way – through their art! This is accomplished theme based fundraising art exhibits. “The Power of Art – To Transform Lives” “I see P.A.T.H as a triple winner: it offers HOPE and PURPOSE to incarcerated individuals; helps other worthwhile community causes through P.A.T.H.'s art fundraising efforts; and makes beautiful artwork available and affordable to the public. [Together], we provide beauty, compassion and joy.” - Leslie Lakes, Dir.
ArtReach was founded in 2015 by UK artist, Nicola White to provide a platform for prisoners on San Quentin’s death row to exhibit their art and creativity. This is achieved both online and in a variety of London based exhibit venues and complementary art discussions. ArtReach seeks to humanize the plight of prisoners sentenced to death through their art. ArtReach believes that art and poetry has the power and ability to transform thinking, consciousness, behavior and lives. In doing so, it also helps to connect and engage these same artists with the outside world. Says one San Quentin death row artist: “Art created in prison is an expression of hope, provides a focus and purpose, and helps those who have often not had the chance to express themselves, to do so in an acceptable way from behind prison walls”.
“Art is the journey of a free soul” – Alev Oguz
For more information please contact: Leslie Lakes, Director P.A.T.H. P.O. Box 1702 Mill Valley, CA 94942 Prisonartstouchinghearts@gmail.com
A MarinLink 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Project ] Member
Nicola White, Director of ArtReach:
Artist, Mudlark & passionate about helping prisoners on death row to share their artwork and creative writing
Chicano Art By Luis Maciel
Death Row Art
Death Row Cookbook
San Quentin Death Row