Bad Little Boy. Short film by AV Rockwell. Check it out.
In a way to further delve into the idea of Jihaari Terry’s painting styles and all around style of living. I asked him a couple of questions regarding life, art and the reason he’s so into Skateboarding. As the editor in chief and also as Jihaari Terry it was tough interviewing myself but alas, if i’m not out there getting interviews I might as well just do it myself.
DJ Dad Jeans: Okay facts: You are thirty-one living in Oakland, California and you grew up in Fremont, California. Right?
Jihaari Terry: Actually it was Newark, California. I always say Fremont cause most people who did not grow up around here know Fremont because of the bart stop. Newark is engulfed by Fremont so it’s basically the same place. But we had a sweet mall, the best high school to skate at and a go cart slash arcade spot to eat pizza and pick up on on babes.
DJ: Babes? Sure you did. I think I remember you kinda just looking at the girls. Say what you want but you were a pretty shy guy. So you basically lived in the suburbs?
JT: Yeah pretty much. I did not have a car the whole time cause all my friends had them. I remember stealing food trays from Jack in the Box and putting them under the back of my friend Ryan’s car and doing donuts in the parking lot at 2am. Fun times.
DJ: Sounds like it.
JT: Right? We weren’t bad kids but bored kids none the less. Having shopping cart races and hanging outside Denny’s restaurants was kinda all there was to do. Denny’s was the after party spot for rave kids, and burnouts, me and my friends were kinda in the middle of that category. We just skated all day then would end up there sharing one milkshake and a basket of fries between all of us. Ha Ha fuckin’ broke as fuck.
DJ: Yeah you were, even though you worked at Albertson’s / Lucky’s. I’ve been meaning to ask you, How come you didn’t save any of that money you made from being a courtesy clerk. Like $600 a week and you would just spend it on skate shoes and baggy polo shirts.
JT: Uh, because I was 17 years old dude. Money wasn’t’ there to save. It was there to spend. I don’t know I didn’t care about it I guess.
DJ: You used to write a lot in your notebook about how people interpret you. I can remember back to something you wrote like “People will never see me as I do when I’m by myself.” It’s interesting to think about the ideas of one defined by others and yet, that is just there perception of that person. Does that thought occur when you draw or paint today?
JT: Yes, all the time. I constantly have to battle with a sort of painting editor in my mind. First and always what do I want to paint? But then it’s usually about if it is calming enough to be in someones house and not offset whatever else they have in their collection. It’s troubling at times because it makes me second guess what I’m about and my practice as an artist. I have to remember that when I am making art it is still for me to enjoy. Not just people I show it too. And there lies that question?
DJ: Is it art if it has not been critiqued?
JT: Exactly. I choose to show my art to everyone. That then makes it public and they, in turn, think it somehow belongs to them. Which I guess it does in a way. But it is how they see it and not how I do. Does that answer it?
DJ: Sure the constant struggle between you and your viewers. You want people to like it, or it needs to at least cause a disruption in normality for that split second. But once it’s out there. That’s it.
JT: Yeah, I can praise myself all I want, and call my art the best. But that’s only when I am alone. You know, it’s up to the critics, investors, trends, and money.
DJ: Do you think you will just make it anyway even if it’s not a lucrative option for your future? Like art for arts sake.
JT: Oh, fuck yeah! It’s what I do naturally. I love to create. Iv’e always felt the most free doing it. Whether it’s skateboarding, painting, writing, or doing graffiti. No one can tell me no. It’s what I love to do.
DJ: I kind of always forget that you skateboard.
JT: How? You are me.
DJ: Well I don’t do to many skate related blog post.
JT: That’s true maybe you should.
DJ: Why skateboarding anyway?
JT: Could you be more specific?
DJ: Of course. You have been skating for, oh some 15 years and still do it like it’s the first time. Where does that spark from?
JT: Oh man, it’s the joy I get out of exploring, seeing everything as an obstacle, I’m completely free when I ride down the street. Even when I fall it’s the most humbling thing for me. Because I have to get back up. It’s that continual life lesson done over and over again. To try one repetitive motion until you succeed or don’t teaches you determination and patience. Becoming aware of your surroundings as big as a city courthouse where everyone meets up, to a tiny crack on the ground, you learn admiration of architecture and anticipation of things to come. My board became my tour guide through life. Doors where always opening because of skateboarding.
DJ: What do you mean by doors?
JT: Well, skateboarders don’t just skate, they make art and travel and build skateparks, and run after school programs, and make music, and DJ, and act, and write graffiti, and own businesses, and have clothing lines. We make up the style of the city’s we inhabit. I believe we are the foundation.
DJ: Whoa heavy. I can see that. So meeting all these types of people you are able to share ideas and get inspiration through a group of individuals bound by basically a board with some wheels on it.
JT: Yup, it sound pretty crazy, but that’s what’s up.
DJ: You mostly do paintings on wood panels and sometimes skateboard decks. Right now your working on a series of nail salon hands?
JT: Wood panels are the best. I love the natural pattern they already have. It gives my paintings added texture. I am working with hands and roses. But the twist is, all these hands are of a darker melanin. I’m re-appropriating the white world aesthetic. More so, not everything that is beautiful comes from whiteness.That idea has been fed to me since I was a child and I am just now starting to deconstruct what that means in my life. I started learning a great deal about the hurdles black artist, musicians and actors had to go through in the 1920’s thru the 1950’s. I mean it still goes on today, but imagine a world where black actors couldn’t even kiss white actors in a movie. White women played mixed race characters and the only role black women would get were maids and nanny’s. My work is shedding a little light on how beautiful those women were in that time period. I’m trying to put them in the spotlight.
DJ: That’s great. Are there any women in particular that you admire more from that time?
JT: Oh there’s so many. My go to is Dorothy Dandridge. She paved the way for so many black women actors today. But I also put Harry Belafonte in there as a very effeminate character. A lot of men back then were singers and dancers and had tapped much more into their dandy-like portrayal of men. I enjoy that about old movies because the idea was to admire these characters they were portraying. Kind of over act in a grand scale. Give the audience a show. Especially if you were a black actor. It was already cut throat enough. Sometimes whole scenes of movies would be cut simply because the dance number from the black entertainers would shine harder then the whole storyline of the movie. I intend to give a credit where it’s due. In the most sublte way. A hand and rose for each black individual who made it a little easier to step into the entertainment industry.
DJ: Is this a life challenge?
JT: Yeah, I think it is. There are so many to choose from. So many stories to tell.
DJ: One last question, i’m sure I’ll be interviewing you again. Did you sign up for the healthcare act thingy? I’ve been putting it off for so long I hope you got to it.
JT: Yes I did it last night. We good.
You can see all of Jihaari’s work as I post it on DJ Dad Jeans. Check back periodically for art show specifics and if you feel like taking a break from the norm. Also if you have Spotify check out his playlist there all over the place. For art commissions email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.