Midnite Special

Event Review by Loudres Jimenez

December 15, 2018 was a night to remember as Portland saw a fresh take on an exhibition, one that bring attention to the reformation and dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Jesse Hazelip - Midnite Special was held at a new art space on Failing Street, just off North Mississippi called Tips on Failing. Curated by Gage Hamilton, a renowned artist and Co-Curator and Director of Portland’s mural festival, Forest for The Trees.

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Midnight Special brings Jesse Hazelip's new solo work alongside performances and collaboration with multidisciplinary artist Ginger Dunnill, lifelong friend and tattoo artist James Allison, visual artist and poet Demian Dine Yazhi, and indigo child rapper Rasheed Jamal. Each artist brought a unique voice to the show, luring audiences to submerge themselves in the essence and meaning of the artwork.

The moment you walked in, you are instantly greeted by hanging ropes made of bed sheets and the gripping sounds of ripping and tearing cloth.

"Ginger Dunnill for Mother Tongue creates a site-specific sound and fiber installation to the loving memory of all the young people of color across Amerikkka who continue to take their own lives because of the mental and physical trauma of being incarcerated" (Hazelip, 2018).


As you pass through; the ropes attached to the ceiling, hang close to the floor, leading your eye down to scattered poems, two inmate jumpsuits spread out with ropes beside them, and a sign that reads, "Rest in Peace;" instantly set the tone. The poems beautifully created by Demian Dine Yazhi, work "in an action that will embody the intention of Mother Tongue and amplify the Queer and Indigenous experience in relationship to the prison industrial complex and suicide" (Hazelip, 2018).

            Walking further in, you encounter a site-specific instillation structure built to the size of solitary confinement cells in the U.S. prison system. This space creates the stage for Hazelip's live protest alongside tattoo artist, James Allison. As Hazelip sits, with his arms around his knees on the floor, sitting above him is Allison who is using a makeshift tattoo gun to tattoo a rose with a stem of rope. Intertwining with Dunill's instillation to memorialize those who have committed suicide due to incarceration. The fluorescent light shining on them, gave a sterilized glow to the room; which contrasted the white walls and grey concrete. Hazelip and Allison, collaborated together on this exhibition while Allison was still incarcerated. Both Hazelip and Allison embody true authenticity and commitment to the art and the cause.


The walls showcased Hazelip’s new series, Trinity War. Hazelip interweaves three narratives: The Eternal War (the past, present, and possible future of the United States), the War on Drugs (aka people of color), and the War of Colonization (gentrification). These pieces highlighted the cause and effect of the prison industrial complex and the lives it takes. Hazelip's unique style of using fine-line ballpoint pen on paper include images of the Reaper, Bellum Se Ipsum Alet (Latin for, The War Will Feed Itself), and Coyotl. Some pieces from this series can also be seen on the streets of Portland, as wheatpasted installations.


When asked about the meaning behind his usage of three animals in his work – a wolf, bull, and vulture – Hazelip stated that when wolves are in a pack they survive, when separated and in solitude, they lose their mind. We are tribal beings. The bull is a reference to people being like cattle, with each piece already planned to cut apart. Christo, 53” x 29” (mixed media on wood) is about the “sacrifice involved in our judicial system. Our punitive approach to incarceration has been proven to be ineffective and counterproductive to the ‘sinners’. I used the back of a frame and carved out spaces for things a prisoner might want to smuggle in and hide. Blades for protection, keys for release, pictures of loved ones for comfort and an ink impression from a newborn’s feet for those mothers and fathers who can’t touch their children” (Hazelip, 2016). The hooded vulture is a reference to the situation of corruption in Rikers Island in New York.

The piece Big Skull was created out of a carved bull’s skull. The piece displays names of multiple prisons in New York City and upstate New York. “The private prison industry deals and trades prisoners as if they were livestock” (Hazelip, 2017). Each piece in his series contains personal and intimate details of an incarcerated experience, helping to heal a wound that exists in society.


Closing the show, a live performance by Rasheed Jamal gave the audience a sample of his new album entitled 22 Grams (iAMTHATiAM), which testifies to the experience of a young black male in modern day America, given from the perspective of a disembodied ‘Soul’—the main protagonist in the narrative” (Hazelip, 2018). Lyrics like, “land of the free, but I’m just another prisoner, working 9 to 5, man, it shouldn’t be so difficult” provide introspective truth and a soundtrack to the struggle of the cause (Jamal, 2018).


This deep and well thought-out exhibit curation and artist collaboration, highlights the overlapping interests of government and industry - feeding off of stereotypes of oppressed communities (people of color, the homeless, mentally ill, etc.), categorizing them as delinquents and a danger to society. Through this process, huge profits are generated by private companies, while at the same time acting to further marginalize the communities of those who are incarcerated. Due to the continuation of "tough on crime" propaganda in American culture, the larger civilian population has been tricked into believing that imprisonment is the solution to solving our social problems. As Angela Davis wrote in her essay, Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex, "prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings" (Davis, 1998). Midnite Special shows that our correctional institutions have turned into a “slaughter house for profit,” and we are the cattle. We look forward to each artist’s endeavors and support their courage to stand for what is right.



Davis, A. (1998). Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex | Colorlines. [online] Colorlines. Available at: [Accessed 24 Dec. 2018].

Hazelip, J., Personal communications, December 15, 2018.

Hazelip, J. (2016, August 3), “Christo”, 53x29”, Mixed media on wood.

Hazelip, J. (2017, June 23), “North (Big Skull)” Carved Bull skull.

Jamal, R, Live performance, December 15, 2018.

The Black Hat Project

The Last Bus Club & InvoicePDX have recently launched The Black Hat project, with the goal of opening an innovative artistic hub in Portland. Together they strive to raise awareness and to build a foundation of artists and makers of all kind while documenting the artistic progression that’s happening in Portland. The Black Hat will serve as a local innovative artistic space; providing contemporary gallery space, artist studio space, resources, and art supplies. The project founders say that they will be offering the lowest gallery commissions in town (galleries often take a 50% cut of the selling price to pay for operations).

Chase Muromoto of Invoice Pdx & and Forest Kell of the Last Bus Club began collaborating in 2015 when they did the One Stop Shop, a pop-up parking lot art event using a painted van and pallets to create a temporary art space. They have also hosted other gallery art shows including Writer's Anonymous (2015), Inside Out at Compound Gallery (2016), and the PBR Art Design Contest Show (2016).

InvoicePDX has also published two volumes of Invoice Magazine, which features original and submitted photos of Pacific Northwest graffiti art, along with exclusive interviews with artists like GATS, GIVER, and EKOSE along with long-time graffiti photographers, like Oddio. InvoicePDX says that the magazine “provides a discrete outlet for the graffiti/art community.”

In April 2017, Invoice PDX & Last Bus Club launched The Black Hat project, and hosted a benefit show that welcomed the community by providing a free art show for all ages. Food was served by Braddah Bowls, and drink sponsors included Pabst Blue Ribbon PDX and Guayaki Yerba Mate. The event also offered live screen-printing by Tour Print, local company created by a team of designers, brand experts, merchandisers, and artists. The Black Hat project launch party also featured a special appearance from local street dance group Soul Trigger and Supreme Beings.

To promote this project, Invoice PDX & Last Bus Club collaborated with local cinematographer and creative director Jon Christoperson (@JCCinematography), who has also recently made wonderful promotional commercials for local sticker artist RxSkulls and Portland-based female street artists like @wokeface @eillegal_rose @hellokitska and @placeboeffectpdx.

#theblackhat #pdx #streetart @invoicepdx @lastbusclubclothing

A post shared by Jon Christopherson (@jccinematography) on

Josh McQuary, also known as McMonster (#tinymike), was also involved in hosting the launch party.  McMonster’s art shows a perspective of a surreal world taking images from nature, science fiction, and female anatomy. McQuary recently won the #PBRart Art Can contest and will have his art appear on a millions of PBR beer cans nationwide staring in July 2017.

New Mexico artist VELA provided event attendees with live art painting, showing his process while creating a Hawaiian-inspired piece. VELA has also been featured in Invoice Magazine, displaying his surreal take on Mexican and Native American graffiti culture. His intricate usage of color, imagery, and geometric symbols creates a unity of nature and spirit through aerosol. Many other local artists displayed work and came out to support the project, including Galenism, Voxx Romana, NABRU, TheEarwig22, and many more.

All funds collected from the The Black Hat project event go towards a space where artist and supporters can call home and continue to support artistic progression in Portland. If you missed the event, you can still contribute by donating to the project’s crowdsourcing fundraising campaign.

Special thanks to Lourdes Jimenez for covering the show and contributing to this article. 


A group of dedicated street artists just pulled off what might be the largest sticker art installation show in the United States – Sticker Nerds III. After months of preparation and stickers donated from around the world, a simple warehouse space was transformed into an alternate reality. Every wall and fixture covered with an estimated 15,000+ pieces of artistic expression from 1000s of artists around the world. Each sticker telling a story, a small glimpse into someone’s unique personality and imagination.

The third and largest installment of the Sticker Nerds trilogy was carried out by a team of about 20 prolific vinyl sticker artists and supporters including: Skam, RxSkulls, Kanye, Doctor Rasterbator, Voxx Romana, and Jonathan Boys.

Over the past 10 years, the Portland sticker art scene has blossomed into an impressive, colorful, and relentless force on city streets. To the dismay of tireless graffiti abatement crews, volunteer community groups, and vigilantes, stickers just keep getting up – an endless cycle of slap, stick, and scrape. Many sticker connoisseurs would agree that Portland is one of the best places to see this type of urban intervention.

Some say Portland’s wet weather and mural regulations have encouraged artists to focus more on vinyl mediums, others look back to our DIY and skateboarding cultural roots. Regardless, a strong and supportive community of artists has formed, all helping each other master this craft, push its limits, and organized for the cause.

Tension and nerves were high before the show. Logistically everything was working great, however, organizers ran into red tape when it came time to obtain an event permit from the Portland Fire Marshal. The City’s Fire & Rescue office and the Portland Police have come under scrutiny in recent weeks for allegedly paying extra attention to enforcing capacity codes and shutting down local cultural events like hip hop concerts, art gallery events, and dancing events.  Even though Sticker Nerds III venue was a big space, it only had one exit.

After days of talking with marshal’s staff, the organizers were forced to limit the event to no more than 25 people at any time. Three people were needed to manage the space, leaving only 22 spaces for visitors. To accommodate for this unfortunate, but understandable limitation, the event was quickly reconfigured into an all-day open house.

On the morning of the show, a message was posted by organizers with the warehouse’s address and a note “Please be advised that you may have to wait in line. Please respect the local neighborhood. The Sticker Nerds 3 event does not condone vandalism.”Within minutes of posting the location on various social media outlets, people started lining up outside the door hoping to be one of the first 100 guests in who received a special SN3 sticker pack. Sticker enthusiasts from as far away as Minnesota, California, and Washington came to Portland for this free event. The line remained 1 to 2 hours strong all day and night.

Once in possession of the doorman’s magic glass ticket, guests entered the warehouse. You were instantly submerged in a sea of stickers and wheatpastes. Static-crackling TVs, light projections, and DJs gave it a post-apocalyptic vibe. The artists even incorporated real pieces of everyday life into the space like city furniture, utility boxes, newspaper boxes, bathroom stalls, espresso makers, and a few classic tube televisions. The walls constantly change throughout the day as guests added more stickers and tags. Outside the venue, an art-covered newspaper box was used by attendees to share stickers and swag.

A full screen-printing set-up cranked out fresh prints on bought or brought clothes, a gallery sold handmade fine art pieces, and pop-up shop sold merchandise like prints, stickers, tee-shirts, bike bags, books, bandanas, cozies, patches, and buttons. Local street and graffiti artists painted a full wall collaborative mural, displaying some of Portland’s finest artistic talent. Throughout the day, free art was given away to guests. The day after the show, an all-warehouse auction was held. They even sold the wall panels to raise money for the next event.

Since they had to officially close their doors at 9pm, organizers threw a special SN3 VIP After-Party. Guests with exclusive stick-its quietly descended upon the dimly lit warehouse for evening of networking, creating, trading, and conversing. The evening closed without incident, everyone played by the rules.  Most of us left with pockets full of stickers and an amazing sense of community. Portland’s sticker art scene is as much about the art as it is the people who do it and the social spaces it adheres too.

More Photos from Sticker Nerds Events

And More Photos!