State 04: Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. | August 10-11, 2017

Veteran: Anthony Marquez
Branch: U.S. Marines

Artist: Fish McGill
Website: www.fishmcgill.com
Instagram: @fishmcgill

Video: Richard Fomo, Fomo Video
Photography: Ajai Bharadwaj, Ajai B Photography

Venue: Fish McGill Studio
Partners: AIGA BostonThey Fought We Ride

State Sponsor: Available

XVII

U.S. Marine Veteran Anthony Marquez and designer Fish McGill collaborated to create the design “XVII,” a stylized interpretation of the chainsaw carvings Anthony was inspired to create as a way to honor the 17 Marines his unit lost during his last deployment in 2011 in Sangin, Afghanistan.

Driven by the desire to honor the fallen and their Gold Star families, Anthony learned how to carve in 2016 and immediately pursued his newly-found purpose to carve 17 Battlefield Crosses in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Beginning with a large log reclaimed from a fallen tree, Anthony carves out and personalizes each carving to commemorate the fallen and then drives all over the country to hand-deliver it to the Gold Star family at their home or the gravesite of their Marine.

Inspired by the personal memorial display Anthony built in his own home, Fish presented the Battlefield Cross carving in front of a Gold Star and U.S. flag in a rugged, hand-etched style that symbolizes the compassion that drives Anthony to create each carving for his fellow Marines and their families, making sure to let them know that their sacrifice and loss will never be forgotten or fade away in time.

In collaboration with Alpha Industries, the designs from the 50 States: Veterans + Artists United tour are produced into a limited number of fifty t-shirts and embroidered patches. Click the product images below to purchase Anthony and Fish’s collaborative “XVII” design exclusively on AlphaIndustries.com.

 TSHIRT: $30.00 

PRINTED IN U.S.A.

Size Shown: Large (Unisex)

 PATCH: $17.00 

MADE IN U.S.A.

Patch Height: 4.00″ 

 BEHIND-THE-PROCESS: 

[Written by: Kendra Clapp Olguín | Photos by: Ajai Bharadwaj

Although U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Anthony Marquez may be a reserved individual, he has found creative ways to express his thoughts and beliefs. One of those ways, specifically his work as a chainsaw carver, introduced us to Anthony.

In the summer of 2016, about four years after leaving the military, he combined his creativity with the desire to give back to the families of the fallen brothers in his unit, 1st Battalion 5th Marine Regiment.

As seventeen Marines were killed in action, he set out to do and deliver a chainsaw carving for each family who lost their son in the 2011 deployment in Sangin, Afghanistan, reminding them that they and their loved one are not forgotten. In addition to the carvings, Anthony plans to visit each gravesite of the seventeen, with the carving, as a way for him to personally commemorate his fellow Marines.

When we met him in August of 2017, Anthony had finished nine carvings and had driven all over the country to deliver them. We were introduced to Anthony thanks to Marine Corps Veteran Andy Biggs, founder of the Boston Wounded Vet Run, an annual motorcycle ride that raises proceeds for disabled Veterans, helping them pay for housing modifications, recreational objects, cars, basic living items, and other various items to help improve their quality of life.

Although a native of the Boston area and a Veteran himself, Andy suggested that Anthony be the Veteran participant and even offered his home as a place to work from the first day of the project. A compassionate man, Anthony had reached out to Andy earlier in the year when the Boston Wounded Vet Run was raising funds for a Marine that had lost his home to a fire. Offering one of his carvings to be auctioned off, Anthony drove to Boston to deliver the carving in April of 2018, struck a friendship with Andy and since then, has traveled to Boston two more times from his home in Oklahoma.

Fortunately, one of those Boston visits enabled us to cross paths with Anthony when we were conducting the Massachusetts design project on August 10 and 11th.

Partnered with Fish McGill, a long-time resident of Boston and a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), the pair created the design “XVII,” a portrayal of Anthony’s dedication to his goal of making seventeen chainsaw carvings.

On the first day, we all met in Andy’s basement that was covered in patches, stickers, challenge coins, and mementos given to him by various participants and donors of the Boston Wounded Vet Run. As we all sat down in the lounge area and Andy’s English bulldog rolled around the floor at our feet, Fish immediately pulled out a marker and started sketching as Anthony began talking.

From a town just fifteen minutes south of Tulsa, Oklahoma, he comes from a line of military and since the age of six, he knew his future included the Marines. Between this junior and senior year of high school in 2006, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and in 2007, he left for boot camp, he shares with Fish.

From 2007 until 2010, Anthony was in the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment and in 2010, he received his permanent change of station (PCS) to become a Dog Handler in the Marine Corps Military Police. Eight weeks before his deployment to Sangin, Afghanistan, Anthony was partnered with a black lab named Allie and the pair was deployed for several months, conducting searches, clearing buildings and areas, and detecting explosives among other responsibilities.

While Anthony left the military in 2012, Allie was deployed again. Fortunately, four years later, he researched her identification number and was able to adopt her, flying to North Carolina on a donated private jet ride to pick her up.

If you care to learn more about Anthony’s reunion with Allie, his brother Manny Marquez made a documentary that you can watch here.

“Being a dog handler was my favorite thing about the military,” Anthony tells Fish. “They are vital; they save a lot of lives and the Taliban knows this. They have a bounty on handlers and their dogs.” Listing all that Allie has been through from snake bites to gunshots, Anthony comments that she was with him in a vehicle that was blown up. Having been through thick and thin, the pair has a powerful connection that exists to this day. I look over at Fish’s notebook as Anthony continues to share more about Allie, noticing his drawing of a dog.

It was during this last deployment in 2011 to Sangin, Afghanistan, that seventeen Marines were KIA, including a few of his close friends. Living in constant uncertainty while deployed, Anthony admits to feeling that some days were his last.

”I mean, there’s this thing called survivor’s guilt because you feel guilty because you survived. There are different symptoms. People handle it differently,” he states. Although a private person, Anthony bares his soul creatively.

Covered in a variety of tattoos, he explains to Fish that they are a way to express his beliefs. “Most of my tattoos have meanings behind them,” he says. Even at that moment, his thigh was wrapped up in plastic from being tattooed earlier that week. In addition to tattoos being a creative outlet, Anthony taught himself how to weld after getting out of the military and made himself a motorcycle. When he became interested in chainsaw carvings, he reached out to a woodworker who mentored and helped him create the first Battlefield Cross carving for the XVII Carvings mission of his. After explaining that he only uses donated wood, Fish notes that the fallen trees represent the fallen Marines.

While all are a Battlefield Cross, Anthony adds details relevant to the Marine to personalize each carving. Needing to complete one within the next day, Anthony leads us outside where he moves a massive log to the center of the driveway.

As he begins blocking out the wood, the chainsaw deafens the sounds of the neighborhood and sawdust flies everywhere, catching on his dark hair and beard. Standing just off to the side watching, Fish feverishly sketches in his notebook. In the background, the chickens and turkeys in Andy’s backyard run about in their cages, alarmed by the blare of the chainsaw. This was definitely the location most unique for a project thus far on the tour.

On the second day of the Massachusetts state project, we all met at Fish’s studio in downtown Boston. A fun little workspace with different tools, artwork, and materials all about, the aqua blue wall with amoeba-looking figures hung up caught my attention. I then spot the numerous Moleskin notebooks lined in the bookcase. After asking what they are, Fish shares with us that every day he draws a moment from his day.

With Fish’s approval, I excitedly flip through his many books. From reading his son bedtime stories to adventures riding his bike, I felt like, for a moment, I walked through the life of Fish McGill.

After then looking through the doodles and notes he had drawn the previous day, Fish asks Anthony what message he wished to convey with the design. As if an extension of his mission with the carvings, Anthony explains that he wants to send a message of remembrance to Gold Star families, families who have lost their Armed Forces member and loved one. “A lot of families feel like their loved ones are forgotten,” Anthony says. “Sometimes they don’t get reached out to by battle buddies.”

With hope to provide families comfort in knowing that they and their loved ones are not forgotten, the pair concludes that the design would include an interpretation of Anthony’s carvings. After being inspired by an image Anthony shared of his personal memorial display he built in his home, Fish presents the Battlefield Cross carving in front of a Gold Star flag, to represent the families of the fallen, and a U.S. flag that is hung in Anthony’s display.

Drawn in his hand-etched style, the design invokes the rugged nature of the chainsaw carvings while also symbolizing the compassion that motivates Anthony in his life and in creating each carving for his fellow Marines in their families.

As the end of the project was nearing, Andy stopped during his break while on duty to see how the project has was going.

After hearing the design concept he shares how important he feels Anthony’s carvings are.

“It keeps the dedication and memory of sacrifice alive,” Andy states.

Not representing one specific individual, Fish and Anthony hope that the depicted XVII carving will give comfort to the many families who feel the loss of their loved one every day, letting them know that they are not and will never be forgotten.

To support Anthony by purchasing his collaborative “XVII” design with Fish, click to visit AlphaIndustries.com.

 TSHIRT: $30.00 

PRINTED IN U.S.A.

Size Shown: Large (Unisex)

 PATCH: $17.00 

MADE IN U.S.A.

Patch Height: 4.00″ 

 OUR JOURNEY: MASSACHUSETTS 

[Written by: Kendra Clapp Olguin | Photos by: Tyler Way]

After a couple nights spent in Cabela’s parking lot in Hudson, MA, we were pretty excited and slightly anxious to get to Boston, our first “major” city stop on the tour. 

But before we made the trek into Boston, we visited the closer-by city of Salem where the infamous witch trials took place in the 1690s. It’s been interesting to visit cities across this country and learn what they are known for. Salem is the first city I’ve ever been to that is known for its, well, witchcraft. As we walked through the town, we would pass shop windows filled with trinkets and souvenirs exhibiting images of witches, cauldrons, brooms, ghosts, and everything in-between. Men dressed as zombies stood on the corners in hopes of persuading tourists to take a ghost tour of the cemetery later that night.

While we passed on the night-time stroll through the graveyard, Tyler and I walk through “The Burying Point,” the oldest cemetery in the city. As we read through the tilted and worn gravestones, we came across a gravestone that belonged to a Mayflower Pilgrim who lived to be 84 years-old!

We then walked through the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, reading the names of the twenty people, most of them women, that were accused of witchcraft by mere teenagers then executed during the most well-known case of mass hysteria in colonial America. Although seeming distant in history, it was still moving to read through how the women were accused, simply for not adhering to the community’s expectations placed on women at that time. Showing skepticism of the trails only led to others being charged with witchcraft as well. Needless to say, it’s a chilling reminder of how influential false accusations and beliefs can be.

On a lighter note, while walking toward the water, it hit me that it totally felt like we were in Halloweentown. Remember that Disney Channel movie? Actually, MULTIPLE movies? I kept expecting to round the corner and run into a werewolf or something.

Anyway, we walked toward the water and saw where the Friendship of Salem would normally be docked. A replica of the 1797 boat built in Salem, it was away for renovation in New York but there were volunteers working on rehabilitating and reweaving its masts along the water. Mistakenly walking into the boathouse, a nice guy gave us an impromptu tour of the renovation project and area. Wood stacks, tools, and blue prints of the boat were strewn everywhere and the cedar-wooden smell brought me back to my grandfather’s garage.

We stayed at the Boston Minuteman Campground located in Littleton, MA, about an hour away from Boston. Because we need to stay at campgrounds and RV parks while we conduct state projects, we typically will find a place an hour to a half-an-hour away from the town we’re visiting. Although it adds a bit of a commute back and forth, we’ve come to love it as it gives us the best of both worlds, time in the city and time in the country.

The site at this campground was beautiful, totally surrounded by trees providing us shade and keeping the trailer nice and cool. We bought a simple linen tablecloth from Target so that we could enjoy a couple of dinners out on the picnic table, including a tofu recipe given to me by my friend Nate.

Food plays a big part in this tour, especially for me. I think Tyler would be happy having PB&J’s every night for dinner but I think it’s an important thing about travel. Since we don’t have the funds to eat out all of the time, I’ve enjoyed grocery shopping at local stores (and many Trader Joe’s) and attempting regional dishes. Making familiar dishes from home has also given us comfort in our continually shifting environments.

Finally came the day to head into Boston! We parked on the outskirts and walked across the channel where the Boston Tea Party protest happened in 1773, “No taxation without representation!” This is going to turn into a history lesson, isn’t it?

Towered over by the financial district’s buildings, the Old State House stands in the middle of it all. Symbols of the United Kingdom, the gold crown-wearing lion and unicorn sit atop the house’s corners. The site of the Boston Massacre that was publicized by revolutionists to promote the rebellion against the British, the Declaration of Independence was also read from the balcony on July 18, 1776, in which the lion and the unicorn were taken down and burned on King street. I’m thinking there is no other way to send a clearer message than that.

On our way to Boston’s North End, Tyler and I walked through the six towers of the New England Holocaust Memorial, representing the six million Jewish people that died in the six main death camps during the six years of the terrible “Final Solution,” the most deadly phase of the holocaust.

The walls of the tower are inscribed with seven-digit numbers representing the tattoos given to concentration camp prisoners. As you walk through, you notice the steam rising from the grates below you. It’s quite a literal way to represent the horrifying gas chambers of the concentration camps but there is no beating around the bush when it comes to coming to face an ugly portion of human history.

Sadly, only days after we visited and days after the neo-Nazi rally happened in Charlottesville, VA, the memorial was vandalized for the second time that summer. Those weeks that summer were a particularly bleak time socially in our country and it was difficult not knowing what the future held in the places we were headed to.

All the while communities and groups across the nation were having conversations of the present and future, we felt we were in a particularly unique situation to be walking through this country’s past.

Walking through the North End along the Freedom Trail, Boston’s oldest residential community dating back to the 1630s, we saw not only Paul Revere’s house but also walked through the church where he displayed his lantern in its steeple to warn that the British were coming.

The North End is also known as Little Italy and while we didn’t eat in the area, we had a great time walking through the winding and tight streets, looking up at the old brick buildings, feeling transported back in time.

As we were walking by the King’s Chapel Burial Ground, the oldest cemetery in Boston, I noticed on the plaque that “Captain Roger Clap” was buried there and told Tyler that he was probably an ancestor of mine. His response? To not be presumptuous. Unfortunately the cemetery had closed just a half-hour before so we couldn’t go see the grave, but that encounter inspired me to start digging into my family history online. I will elaborate on the research and findings later on!

After having an early dinner of pizza and pasta at MAST, we walked to the historical neighborhood of Beacon Hill that has narrow cobblestone streets with names like “Chestnut” and “Acorn” and federal-style houses adorned with window boxes. Most stoops on the streets still have their iron or brass boot scrapers. While some minds may go to thinking about the mud and snow, mine went to thinking of all the horse poop scraped off by those suckers way back in the day!

Walking by thee Cheers Bar, we then visited the Boston Common and Public Garden that was bustling with people taking their evening walks after getting out of work. Not trying to acknowledge how much our feet hurt, we continued to make our way through the city to the Boston Public Library. The library has a beautiful entry with elaborate tile-work and two grand staircases that scream, yep, this is where knowledge lies. We were able to spend a few quiet moments in the courtyard before the library closed, listening to the peaceful foundation in the heart of a busy city.

The next two days were the Boston project days with Veteran Anthony Marquez and designer Fish McGill. We were introduced to Anthony by Andy Biggs who organizes the Boston Wounded Vet Run. Although a Veteran himself, he referred us to Anthony who was staying with Andy while he was in town working on a chainsaw carving for his XVII Carvings project. A huge help, Andy even allowed us to use his home for the first project day which was super fun as he had dogs, turkeys, and chickens! We got to see Anthony work on a chainsaw carving in the driveway. The second design day was at Fish’s design studio in Boston. It was great being able to see the both of them in their element with their work, but more on that in the Massachusetts state project.

After the second design day, we visited Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts which is probably one of our favorite museums we’ve been to on this tour. Then we got the BIGGEST slices of pizza on Mission Hill before going to Wally’s Cafe Jazz Club, the oldest continually operated jazz club in the country and the first New England jazz club owned by an African American, Joseph Walcott- AKA “Wally.” It’s a good thing we got there early and snagged a spot at the bar because it got incredibly busy but for good reason, it was such a fun evening listening to up and coming jazz musicians. It was the perfect way to end our Boston visit.

The next day we packed up our site at Minuteman and were just about to leave when I asked Tyler if Noel was in the truck (usually she climbs under the seat so we can’t see her very easily). After confirming that she was and putting the gear into drive, we see Noel running up some rocks across from our campsite like a little mountain lion. Turns out, Tyler had left his door open when he did the last walk-around the Airstream to make sure everything was situated and Noel snuck out. And to think we almost pulled out. Noel is funny in that when she does “escape,” she just runs back to the Airstream and goes underneath it. I guess it’s nice to know that she feels safe there.

We got her back in the truck and we were on our way to… IKEA! Having lived in the Airstream for a little over a month, we got rid of a few things that we didn’t need and came up with a list of things that we thought might help. Tyler pushed me around in the parking lot in the cart afterward and even did some fun cart choreography himself that involved a very nicely pointed toe.

We stopped at a Walmart in Plymouth for the night where I, um, well I had a moment. The next day was my birthday and it was the first time spending it away from my family. I had baked a pink cake and bought some balloons to get me more excited for it but, at the end of the night, I found myself crying in bed while blowing up said balloons. The next day I was able to look back on the hilarity of it, crying in a Walmart parking lot. It’s not one of my proudest moments, that’s for sure.

I did have a nice birthday surprise the next morning when Tyler had gone into Walmart and got me a Nintendo Switch! They had been sold out everywhere we had gone until then; we had checked GameStops, Targets, and stores from Michigan to Massachusetts. Apparently they had been shipped one that morning, completely at random, and had just put it out on display when Tyler walked in. It was an terrific birthday surprise and I can’t thank Tyler enough for always making me smile, including when he spilled his coffee fifteen minutes later. And yes, I may have had cake for breakfast that next morning — and the morning after, and possibly after that, too. It was delicious!

We set up at our site at Nickerson State Park, our first stay on the tour without any hookups that wasn’t in a parking lot. We headed to the beach where we saw packs of seals swimming along the shore. It was our first time seeing seals in the wild so we got pretty excited and were those people running down the beach chasing them wherever they went.

The next day we woke up to the sound of rain and had a cozy morning in while the sky cleared up. Eventually, we went out to go walk the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp trail that led out to the ocean. We had packed a little picnic and watched as the sun set, creating a rainbow of colors across the sky. We sat on a bluff looking out to the ocean and in the distance we could see little black dots that were seals in the water. It was one of my favorite moments in Massachusetts.

After setting up our new campsite at Shady Knolls in the Cape the next day, we headed to Provincetown, AKA P-Town! It was Pride week so houses were decorated and tons of people were out and about on the streets celebrating. We had a great meal at the Canteen that involved frozé, yes that’s frozen rosé. It was delicious. The and trip to the Cape ended with us seeing the sunset at Herring Cove Beach. Ahhh, summer.

To support Anthony by purchasing his collaborative “XVII” design with Fish, click to visit AlphaIndustries.com.

 TSHIRT: $30.00 

PRINTED IN U.S.A.

Size Shown: Large (Unisex)

 PATCH: $17.00 

MADE IN U.S.A.

Patch Height: 4.00″