How to Solve Your Overseas Gift Problem

The solution to gifts depended upon overseas shipping can be found in the readily-available works of art by local artists.

The 2021 holiday season brings a stark reality that relying on goods from overseas or that has overseas components are in Jeopardy of not arriving on time. In a November 4th, 2021, report, No Escape from LA: Lingering Supply Chain Insecurity at Los Angeles Ports by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, overseas goods and Supply shortages will not begin to get resolved until early 2022. Their Strategic analysis as to when the supply chain disruptions get resolved go way beyond the 2021holiday season.

West Coast Ports

According to Union Pacific Railroad, West Coast ports, which include the Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, Port of Tacoma, Port of Seattle, and the Port of Oakland, have more transpacific vessel calls per week than East Coast ports. West Coast ports handle roughly 66% of the traffic, and provide shipping to more countries than other US ports. This gives US companies access to more markets. Every US home contains items that came through the ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach, reports CNN Business. Imports from Asia that you’ll find in your home include clothes, shoes, furniture, toys and everyday household goods such as kitchenware, cleaning supplies and food. Many of the raw materials that US factories need to build their products domestically, including automobiles, aircraft and appliances have overseas components. “There is no such thing as a completely American-built car,” reports CNN Business.

America’s favorite fashion accessory, the iPhone, is the epitome of the term, “the global supply chain.” While Apple products are designed in California, they clearly are not assembled there, nor China, as some inaccurately assumed. Some of the suppliers of key or interesting parts for the iPhone 5S, 6, and 6S and where they operate, include:

Accelerometer: Bosch Sensortech, based in Germany with locations in the U.S., China, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan

Audio chips: Cirrus Logic, based in the U.S. with locations in the U.K., China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Singapore

Battery: Samsung, based in South Korea with locations in 80 countries

Battery: Sunwoda Electronic, based in China

Camera: Qualcomm, based in the U.S. with locations in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and more than a dozen locations through Europe and Latin America

Camera: Sony, based in Japan with locations in dozens of countries

Chips for 3G/4G/LTE networking: Qualcomm 

Compass: AKM Semiconductor, based in Japan with locations in the U.S., France, England, China, South Korea, and Taiwan

Glass screen: Corning, based in the U.S., with locations in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Turkey, the U.K., and the United Arab Emirates.

This list is a small sample for the iPhone 5S, 6, and 6S of their manufacturers and suppliers listed in Lifewire.

Why Art is a Great Gift

According to the 2020 Guide To Giving Art As A Gift, even the person who has everything, a piece of artwork makes an amazing gift. It shows forethought, effort, and a flair for gift giving. Art is a wonderful gift for any occasion, whether it is for Christmas or Hanukkah, a baby shower, a wedding gift, or a “thank you”. 

Other considerations are the level of thoughtfulness that goes beyond a generically mass produced gift. Original works of Art are environmentally friendly, and have less of an environmental impact as compared to mass produced gifts. Giving an original work of art has the potential to support the local economy, as every artist is a small business and artists live and work in virtually every community. Therefore, original works of art are available as gifts Now! Rather than gifts on an overseas shipping container. If you believe the Arts are important to human culture, then buying and giving an original work of art demonstrates real meaningful support for the Arts. 

Another consideration is Art’s intrinsic value. This kind of gift does not depreciate in value the second it leaves the store, or driven off the showroom floor. Other factors of depreciation that Art is immune from, are age and use.

In 2020, the United States was the leading country in the global art market. It generated 42% of the global art market value; while the United Kingdom and China held 20%, with France being a distant third at 6%. In 2018, the US sustained its position as the world’s largest art market, accounting for 44% of sales by value – or a total of $29.9 billion. That was the highest recorded level to-date.

The 2020 global art market valuation was at $50 billion. This represented a $14 billion drop from 2019. The decline was due to COVID-19. In spite of the decline, from June of 2020 through June of 2021, the Contemporary Art market raked in a record-breaking $2.7 billion in sales.

Why buy Underground Art?

The Art Market is divided into five creative periods: Old Masters (1300 – 1800), Nineteenth-century ( 1780 – 1900), Modern Art (1860 – 1970), Post-war art (1945 – 1970), and Contemporary art (1945 – Present day). These five creative periods are represented in one or more of these six mediums: painting, drawing, sculpture, prints, photography, or other.

Artists are defined as being either emerging, mid-career, or established. An emerging artist is someone who’s in the early stage of their career, someone who’s caught the eye of an art critic and/or gallery, but hasn’t yet established a solid reputation as an artist amongst art critics, art buyers, and art galleries.

A Mid-Career artist is someone who has created an independent body of work over a number of years and who has received regional or national recognition through publication or public presentation of his or her work. A Mid-Career Artist has had a significant number of solo exhibitions at significant galleries and museums, located nationally or internationally, rather than locally.

An Established artist is someone who is at a mature stage in his or her career and who has created an extensive body of independent work. An established artist has reached an advanced level of achievement by sustaining a nationally or internationally recognized contribution to the discipline.

“Radicals in their time, early Impressionists violated the rules of academic painting. They constructed their pictures from freely brushed colors that took precedence over lines and contours, following the example of painters such as Eugène Delacroix and J. M. W. Turner. The public, at first hostile, gradually came to believe that the Impressionists had captured a fresh and original vision, even if the art critics and art establishment disapproved of the new style,” Impressionism, Wikipedia.

Works by Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1963), have sold from $18 to $9.9 million. Works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851) have sold from $12 to $47.6 million. Impressionism, while today is considered a Fine Art, initially, it was considered Underground Art. Underground Art is defined as any form of art that operates outside of conventional norms in the art world, or is part of an underground culture. Generally, any genre of art that is not popular in the art world.

The Tate Museum recognizes, “Now-a-days the term underground art is used to describe a subculture of art, like graffiti art or comic strip art. Since the late 1990s, the internet has become a forum for underground art thanks to its ability to communicate with a wide audience for free and without the support of an art establishment.” See Underground art – Art Term | Tate

Not including DC comic strip based movies, Marvel comic strip based movies have made over $7.1 billion from the worldwide box office. This number does not include sales from toy merchandise and comic books. According to Art Price, the 2020 global art market had a substantial preference for Street Art. It should be quite evident by now of the intrinsic value that resides in Art classified as underground. The number one emerging artist in the underground Contemporary Art World is California prison-artist Donald “C-Note” Hooker.

Donald “C-Note” Hooker 

According to the London Daily Post, Donald “C-Note” Hooker is the world’s most prolific prisoner artist. C-Note is a poet, playwright, performing artist, award-winning visual artist, and The King of Prison Hip Hop. His Works have either been exhibited, recited, performed, or sold, from Alcatraz to Berlin.

He first came to the public’s attention in 2015 as Money Mike. A role he created in his semi-autobiographical play Birth of a Salesman. Birth of a Salesman was the opening act to the play Redemption in Our State of Blues. Redemption stemmed from a pilot theatre program at the California State Prison, Los Angeles County (CSP-LAC), General Population Yard.

CSP-LAC is the only prison in Los Angeles. Prisoners from the County of Los Angeles make up 34% of the inmates in the California prison system. This county is the largest county in the United States. It is nearly double the size of the second largest US County, Cook County in the state of Illinois. The city of Chicago is in Cook County. Los Angeles County has the highest Global concentration of street gangs.

In 2015, CSP-LAC’s General Population was designated in the rehousing of prisoners held in long-term solitary confinement. This was the result of a settlement in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Ashker v. State of California. Some of these prisoners had been held in the Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit for nearly a quarter-century, and were deemed California’s most violent prisoners.

The pilot theater program was being operated by The Strindberg Laboratory (TSL). At the time of the program, People Magazine was following founders, husband and wife Michael Bierman and Meri Pakarinen for a story. TSL is a non-profit founded in 2013. It began doing theatre work inside of the Los Angeles County Jail, which is the world’s largest county jail. Participants in the group’s first production, Romeo and Juliet, were so taken with the experience that they asked the couple to hold classes outside the jail, so they could keep acting after being released.

After starting their post-release theatre program, the couple noticed their actors were forced to drop out of productions after being unable to find gainful employment, so they created the jails/prisons to jobs program to hire them as acting teachers. In 2015, a grant from the California Arts Council‘s Arts in Corrections (AIC) program brought TSL to the prison’s General Population prison yard.

During the program’s training and production, People were given the approval to film and interview the prisoners for one day. From the prison administrators point of view, it was a disaster. They immediately barred all press, and raised serious doubts that the program would be allowed to conclude with an actual play production. The administrators’ complaints related to the content of the material, the language, and that prisoners were throwing up gang signs during People’s filming and photo sessions.

The prison administrators’ edicts took the wind out of the sail from the prisoners, except C-Note. C-Note, who was the eldest, and OG Crip, knew the program brought an opportunity to an artist like him who could never access in a prison cell in Pelican Bay State Prison, access to get his art over the prison wall.

He lived by, and coached them to buy into his mantra, “We are going to put on a play of such magnitude, the prison administrators are going to demand we get press coverage.” It was a very tough slog. Many were there just to get out of the cell; because the prison had very little programs. The Southern Mexicans throughout the Department of Corrections had not bought into speaking with the press. Prison culture of cross racial interactions were very much frowned upon, which also included interaction barriers within races, as the result of gang affiliations. 

The prisoners demanded C-Note’s Birth of a Salesman open up the play. Their four day run of Redemption in Our State of Blues was such a success, prison officials wanted an encore performance with press. This newfound revelation was not well taken by the prisoners, who had been working on Redemption for months and wanted to move on from it. Once again C-Note had to step in to get their minds and hearts back in it. He explained to them this is what they had worked so hard for, and this was an affirmation they had succeeded, now they needed to finish the job.

Their encore performances led to  “BREAK IT TO MAKE IT (BITMI): Busting Barriers for the Incarcerated Project, Los Angeles, California.” A first-in-the-nation public-private funded prison reentry project. It provides two years of free housing from the Los Angeles Mission . Two years of free education from the Los Angeles City College, and participation in the jails to jobs program of actual paid theatrical work with the theater group, The Strindberg Laboratory.

 In 2018, Secretary of the CDCR, Scott Kernan endorsed in a written letter, the CDCR’s continued partnership with the BITMI program. In a 2021 interview, Nicole Abbink, co-director of the play Destiny Is The Journey, shares her story of putting on a production with actors in the BITMI program.

In 2015, the TSL founders had never worked inside of a prison. They were assigned the prison’s most violent prison yard and had a hostile work environment from prison administrators and guards who were unaccustomed to observing these kinds of prisoners involved in rehabilitation services. But for C-Note’s leadership and artistic prowess, there never would have been an encore performance to inspire a public-private partnership to create the innovative prisoner re-entry service known as BITMI. ln all likelihood, there never would have been a first run of their play Redemption in Our State of Blues.

On December 2nd, 2015, Republican, California Assemblyman Tom Lackey of the 36 District wrote to Michael Berman of The Steinberg Laboratory, “I was curious and pressed by the outstanding acapella vocals, the humor of Money Mike, and the literary skills and powerful delivery of the Poet. I was reminded that there is great potential for all men to be a viable part of our culture.”

It would be hard-pressed to find comparable emerging artists from the Contemporary underground art World, whose art has reverberated in affecting so many lives and raised millions of dollars.

In 2017, Category 5 Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast of Texas. News coverage brought back memories of Hurricane Katrina. The coverage highlighted distressed and flooded conditions inside of assisted living homes, but failed to do so inside of the prisons. Prisons and prisoners are considered restricted space, and therefore are not readily accessible without authorization. Realizing this prompted C-Note to create one of his most disseminated Works, During the Flood.

In the press release attached with this work, published in the February 2018, edition of Prison Action News, C-Note wrote why he created the piece, During the Flood.

During the Flood is a piece inspired by Hurricane Harvey and its impact on the prisoners in the prisons that were flooded out by the storm. The photojournalism that was done failed in actually telling the story of the human distress. The photojournalism that was done on the storm’s impact on assisted living facilities was quite impactful, as the cameras had access to their living conditions, but no photojournalistic access was given to record the actual conditions the prisoners found themselves in. Images only existed post rescue. While Harvey was a tragedy, the impact of prisons affected by flooding first came to light during Hurricane Katrina.

The role of the artist is not to tell the story, but make their readers, sees, or listeners, to feel the story. During the Flood, a work specifically done in ink on paper, is for prisoner print publications which predominantly use a newsprint paper and format. This type of dissemination is more conducive to work done in black and white.

The title, During the Flood, was specifically chosen over naming the piece specific to Hurricane Harvey. There will be other floods in other parts of the country. Corcoran, California, is sinking. It sits on top of a major underground aqueduct that has been affected by government policies, farm crop choices, and drought. In Corcoran, is a major California State Prison. Most prisons are either administered by a state or federal agency, but the people involved in the evacuation of a prison in a local jurisdiction will be the local authorities. During the Flood, in conjunction with the prison publication community, is to hopefully inspire the dialogue between state officials responsible for housing these prisoners, and the local first responders who also will be involved in some sort of evacuation of distressed human beings within their local jurisdiction. It is my hope that the state’s response to such a crisis is more in line with being humane, rather than the clinical response seen in During the Flood.

In 2019 several individuals and grassroots organizations used During the Flood as a Public Service Announcement to evacuate prisons in the path of the Category 5 Hurricane Dorian.

In 2021 several individuals and grassroots organizations used During the Flood as a Public Service Announcement to evacuate prisons in the path of the Category 4 Hurricane Ida. 

It would be hard-pressed to find comparable emerging artists from the Contemporary underground art World, whose art has been used to save thousands of lives.

In 2018, C-Note created the paintoem (painting + poem) Today We Are Sisters. The work was created to raise awareness of the 150 forced sterilizations in California’s women prisons from 2006 – 2010, and the lack of reparations to the prisoner victims. The painting and poem tells of a truce between women who are Pro-Life, with women who are Pro-Choice, to lend their combined strengths to end forced sterilizations of women prisoners.

While other individuals and organizations were involved in this advocacy, it wasn’t until the release of Free Virtual Art Exhibition  (1-Artist; 1-Subject; 21-Works) in February of 2021, which concluded with Today We Are Sisters in February of 2021, that in April of 2021, California legislative committees finally acquiesced to the lobbying for reparations to California women prisoners who were forcibly sterilized. 

AB 1007 Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program (2021-2022) provides $7.5 million in reparations to anyone who were forcibly sterilized by the State. It was the first time prisoners were included for reparations in California’s forced sterilization budget.

It would be hard-pressed to find comparable emerging artists from the Contemporary underground art World whose art has reverberated into raising millions of dollars for State-sanctioned crime victims. 

D. Hafash Al-Amin of California Coalition for Women Prisoners with a wood block of Today We Are Sisters. 

In 2019 – 2020 C-Note worked with Fashion designer Makenzie Stiles for her fashion line Mercy. COVID-19 lockdowns in the Spring of 2020 prevented a global first in the over 100-year-history of the Catwalk, models on the Runway in clothes designed with Prison art.

It would be hard-pressed to find comparable emerging artists from the Contemporary underground art World whose art has made history in the World of Fashion.

It’s called ICONS. Forbes and other publications call them Look Up! Usually social justice artists with their works of art on Billboards. ICONS is an image of a Keith Haring Special Edition Polaroid Photo of C-Note’s art Billboard of his 2017 Incarceration Nation. It’s known as ICONS, as it’s an image of Three Icons.

It would be hard-pressed to find comparable emerging artists from the Contemporary underground art World, whose art is making ICONIC moves.

C-Note on Haring

C-Note on Haring (2021)

12 in. x 9 in. 

Wax on Canvas

Donald “C-Note” Hooker

C-Note on Haring is a work done in September of 2021, for the September 27th, 2021, National gay men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Haring, who was raised in  Kutztown, Pennsylvania was instrumental in transforming Hip Hop’s visual art element Graffiti, to become legalized through Street art. Haring had nearly 50 one-man shows and 45 murals, including a 300 ft section of the Berlin Wall.

Hip Hop, like Jazz, is truly an American art form, although rooted and originating from Black American culture. C-Note, who is Black, appreciates cross cultural appreciation of Black Culture. Like the great white Hip Hop Rapper Eminem, Haring, who is also white, was an early adopter of Hip Hop. He was steeped in all of its elements: DJing (Turntablism), MCing (Rap), Graffiti, B-boying (Dance), and Knowledge.

Noted in a UK Guardian article, “‘The public has a right to art’: the radical joy of Keith Haring,” “Art institutions, especially museums, didn’t know how to react to these upstarts and their work. Neither did critics: some were supportive, many were snide (Time’s Robert Hughes caricatured Haring as “Keith Boring”). There was a sense among the stuffy that these young artists were not to be taken seriously, and Haring’s likable painting style meant that his art, though loved by the public, was not “high” enough for the elite. Plus, he collaborated with others too often; he was too commercial; he would keep banging on about politics and safe sex.

Today, though, Haring paintings sell for millions. In 2016, Sotheby’s sold four Haring canvases, including the wonderful The Last Rainforest, which he painted in 1989 when he knew he was dying. The sale price was over £4m.”

“The last known political things Mr. Haring was working on were related to AIDS,” says C-Note. “He was our ambassador to the Mainstream, code speak for white America. He addressed, and informed on Black life to audiences who could give a @$!# about me and my kind. We were described as Welfare Queens, federal criminal laws that went after the Black cocaine user, rather than the white cocaine supplier, and called us Super Predators. This work is from one artivist to another.”

African American Ballet

African American Ballet (2018) 

9 in. x 12 in.

Graphite on paper 

Donald “C-Note” Hooker

African American Ballet (2018) 9 in. x 12 in., is an inside look into Black life. Jessica Jacolbe in 2019 wrote in the JSTOR Daily, “Ballet has been slow to accept African-American dancers in major companies, and those who make it tend to be offered limited roles.” Colorism has also played a role through elevating lighter skin Blacks.

In 2015, Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history. Five-years later, in 2020, Calvin Royal III became the ABT’s first male African-American principal dancer. Covid-19 postponed the dancers from performing together in Romeo and Juliet. 

C-Note’s 2018, African American Ballet is a very important Work, as it forces the viewer to imagine a segment of African-American life to this day, is invisible to the vast majority of Americans?

La Reina de las Mujeres Chicas (The Queen of the Petite Women)

La Reina de las Mujeres Chicas (The Queen of the Petite Women) 

8.5 in. x 11 in.

Graphite and wax on paper

Donald “C-Note” Hooker

La Reina de las Mujeres Chicas (The Queen of the Petite Women) is featured in the article, “Black Love for Brown Pride: How Black Artists Honor Latinos.” Many imprisoned Chicano artists widely employ the copying of patterns for their subject matter. La Reina de las Mujeres Chicas comes from such a pattern, but the pattern only included the woman.

Initially, C-Note had only drawn the woman from her neck up, Graphite on paper, and made a print available of it, known as Untitled 76. Years later, he would complete the rest of the woman in the pattern using graphite. The red, white and green background was rendered in wax. The white sky, red clouds, and green ocean represent the colors of the Mexican flag. La Reina de las Mujeres Chicas is an homage to Mexico, and the Mexican people.


Covid-19 and the ensuing Global supply chain disruption doesn’t have to be the Grinch who steals the gift giving spirit of this holiday season. Stockings full of coal, as well as excuses, just leave a bad taste. Nothing shows how much you value someone than a one-of-a-kind handcrafted gift. Patronizing The Works of your local artists have the added benefit of contributing to the health of the local economy, in addition to, eliminating your shipping problem, a major contribution to global warming. So go out and purchase the works from a local artist, you’ll quickly learn it’s the only way to go when you want to show someone how much you care.

Be sure to check out the over 200 Art prints for sale by C-Note.

1 Comment

  1. The drawings, writings, sound recordings, and videos, of incarcerated African Americans (A cultural record of incarceration on the Black experience)

    Neo Jim Crow Art

If you have additional information, my audience and I would love to hear about it. Tell us about it in the reply.

1 Comment

  1. The drawings, writings, sound recordings, and videos, of incarcerated African Americans (A cultural record of incarceration on the Black experience)

    Neo Jim Crow Art

If you have additional information, my audience and I would love to hear about it. Tell us about it in the reply.