Performance Art

A fine day was made finer last week when I serendipitously parked my car next to the fabulous new mural taking shape on Alvarado Street, in downtown Monterey.  Created by Khalid Hussein, whom I once interviewed years ago for an article about a high school poetry contest, the mural occupies a 200-foot-long construction wall that will one day—officials say 2014—give way to the Monterey Market Hall.

When I praise the mural, which features large glowing fruits and vegetables triumphantly emerging from the future Market Hall and floating above the Monterey Peninsula, Hussein is quick to mention the mentors who helped to guide him on the path of a successful artist.

“Norm Muhl, my art teacher at P.G. High School, was awesome,” Hussein says.  “He stood behind every wacky idea I had.”

Hussein received further support at Youth Arts Collective.  “At YAC, it wasn’t just the space, or the materials, it was the gentle way that Meg Biddle and Marcia Perry slowly imparted a world view.  It was true communication across the generations.”

Hussein went on to study art at UCLA; he now divides his time between Monterey, Los Angeles and Palm Springs, where he shows with the Renegade Art Gallery.  He hopes that the Market Hall’s mural, scheduled for completion on March 14th, opens up new possibilities for further involvement with the community.

During the short time I spent talking with Hussein, I noticed that the mural received a lot of attentive interest from passersby, especially children.  Recently, a large and enthusiastic group of current YACsters spent the day painting with Hussein.

He says that making art in such a busy area makes the work a public performance as much as a job.  Several people have asked him if he’s getting paid; some even wonder if he’s homeless.

“We are professionals,” Hussein says.  “This isn’t just a hobby.”