Be­yond the wall

Pasatiempo - - CONTENT - Jen­nifer Levin I The New Mex­i­can

Cred: Street Art

Jared An­to­nio-Justo Trujillo did some tag­ging as a teenager in Santa Fe. “I def­i­nitely painted trains and did pieces, but it didn’t last very long. I wasn’t a big graf­fiti guy. And now, run­ning from the cops at forty­one years old might not be the best thing,” he said. “But in my opinion, graf­fiti is the most ex­cit­ing, most re­bel­lious, most con­tem­po­rary art there is.”

Trujillo con­sid­ers him­self an ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ist who takes in­spi­ra­tion from and uti­lizes el­e­ments of graf­fiti, his ex­pe­ri­ence as a sign-maker, and knowl­edge gained as a stu­dio art major at the Col­lege of Santa Fe. An in­stal­la­tion he made from vinyl de­cals on Di­bond alu­minum com­pos­ite pan­els ti­tled Evoke — which is his graf­fiti tag — is in­cluded in Cred: Street Art, open­ing Fri­day, Nov. 3, at the Com­mu­nity Gallery at the Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. Other artists rep­re­sented in the group show in­clude Frank Buf­falo Hyde, Shakti Kroop­kin, Dy­lan Ren­fro, Robb Rael, Dawn­dria “Cholita” Scherff, and Is­rael Fran­cisco Haros Lopez.

When gallery man­ager Rod Lam­bert put out the ini­tial call for artists for the show, he didn’t get much re­sponse. “Street art has def­i­nitely been on the out­side in Santa Fe, even though it’s ac­cepted in other major art mar­kets. I wasn’t tapped into the scene at all, but then I met Jared, and he kind of opened up the whole world to me.” Cred features graf­fiti as well as tramp art, pas­teup, stick­ers, mu­rals, photography, and other medi­ums. “It’s the whole gamut of peo­ple who are in­cor­po­rat­ing the lan­guage, tech­niques, ma­te­ri­als, look, and feel of street art into their work,” Lam­bert said.

Trujillo owns Keep Con­tem­po­rary, a gallery space he opened down­stairs at 112 W. San Fran­cisco St. in De­cem­ber 2016 to show graf­fiti- and street- art -in­flu­enced fine art. “Most of the peo­ple that I work with didn’t re­ally fit into the gal­leries in Santa Fe, so I de­cided to cre­ate my own thing,” he said. Keep is not a graf­fiti gallery but a space for street artists who have grown into fine artists or street artists who also make stu­dio art. “Graf­fiti is raw and anti- es­tab­lish­ment. It’s an il­le­gal thing to do, and that’s what makes it ex­cit­ing. For me, to put graf­fiti in a mu­seum or a gallery is con­trived, so I came up with an­other way to do it. Santa Fe is the third big­gest art mar­ket in Amer­ica, sup­pos­edly, but where is this voice?” he asked, slip­ping into the role of ad­vo­cate for lo­cal con­tem­po­rary artists. “What I’m do­ing at Keep, and what this show is do­ing? This isn’t new; it’s only new to Santa Fe. Art tends to be a lit­tle elit­ist and stuffy here. That’s why I love what I’m do­ing as an artist, cu­ra­tor, and gallery owner. I’m work­ing with peo­ple who aren’t do­ing what the es­tab­lish­ment wants.”

Nani­bah Cha­con (Diné/Chi­cana), known in­ter­na­tion­ally for her oil paint­ings and mu­rals, started in graf­fiti when she was six­teen. “A lot of my friends were tag­ging. I was hang­ing out with skaters, hang­ing out in the ar­royos in Al­bu­querque, be­cause they’re great sur­faces to skate,” she said. “There are also th­ese very large walls, and I would see graf­fiti down there. I was just re­ally drawn to mak­ing big pieces.” She spent 10 years in the South­west­ern graf­fiti scene and then, after be­com­ing a mother and an art teacher, tran­si­tioned to paint­ing with oils on can­vas after try­ing and re­ject­ing both acrylic paints and air­brush­ing. She started paint­ing mu­rals about six years ago, and she gets to do brush­work on large out­door sur­faces and make work that has more so­cial con­tent and site-speci­ficity than graf­fiti. As she has got­ten older, she has be­come more in­vested in cre­at­ing work that speaks to and about her com­mu­nity.

Haaláyeé, her piece for Cred, is a con­cep­tual, textbased im­age cre­ated with graf­fiti artist and graphic de­signer Jaycee Beyale. “It’s mixed me­dia on can­vas, draw­ing from both of our knowl­edge about text. It’s a lit­tle bit more sign-painter-based than graf­fiti, though we did use spray paint. We re­ally wanted this con­cep­tual sig­nage to be eye-catch­ing, at­trac­tive, and fun, to en­gage the viewer into a cu­rios­ity of learn­ing Navajo lan­guage.”

Cha­con does not keep up much with the cur­rent graf­fiti scene, but she said it seems to have changed

sig­nif­i­cantly with the in­tro­duc­tion of so­cial me­dia plat­forms like Instagram. “What I see now is that ev­ery­body can say they’re a graf­fiti writer. On Instagram, you re­ally have no idea where th­ese walls are. They might just be walls some­one is paint­ing over and over. Pre-in­ter­net, it was more un­der­ground. Writ­ers would send me pack­ages in the mail with pho­to­graphs of pieces that they did,” she said. “In Al­bu­querque, we don’t have tall build­ings to paint, so the thing was to paint trains. That was the most ac­ces­si­ble for­mat be­cause they would travel and get out of here.”

Trains, signs, so­cial me­dia, and graf­fiti are in­ti­mately in­ter­twined for Jo­er­ael El­liott. Born in San An­gelo, Texas, he has lived sev­eral places, in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les. He moved to Santa Fe from L.A. two years ago. He t alks f lu­idly about t he re­gional, national, and in­ter­na­tional his­tory and cul­ture of graf­fiti, and tends to dive deeply and quickly into as­so­cia­tive mean­ings and me­taphors. Icon­o­clas­tic

Net­work Vari­a­tions, his piece for Cred, is a mu­ral that ex­tends onto can­vas. It re­sem­bles a graf­fiti wall — known as a “placa” — that you might see un­der an ur­ban high­way over­pass. “The global net­work of graf­fiti is all the dif­fer­ent styles,” he said. “I put train lo­gos to rep­re­sent early in­ter­net, so to speak, be­cause if you think about hobo monikers be­ing emo­jis and graf­fiti writ­ers tag­ging trains to net­work with other writ­ers — this has in­formed the way we use so­cial me­dia with hash­tag­ging, the @ sym­bol, and your wall of friends on Face­book, which is like a placa. This is all sub­con­sciously from graf­fiti.

“Graf­fiti i s the first nondis­crim­i­nat­ing global art form, within the con­straints of hy­per- char­ac­ter­ized let­ters,” he con­tin­ued. “You think about photography and film as global art forms, but they’re priv­i­leged. You have to have the money to buy the equip­ment, and lessons, and fund­ing to pro­duce some­thing like a movie. But graf­fiti — it’s let­ters, and any­one can do it.” He qual­i­fied that some of what he es­pouses is agreed-upon graf­fiti his­tory that is ac­cepted by the street- art com­mu­nity, but much of it is rooted in per­sonal ob­ser­va­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence. “I don’t think it’s been of­fi­cially es­tab­lished that graf­fiti is the ba­sis for so­cial net­work­ing, but I don’t care what any­body else says, be­cause for me it’s to­tal fact.”

The sci­en­tists at Santa Fe In­sti­tute seem to be on­board with or at least se­ri­ously in­trigued by El­liott’s the­o­ries. In 2016, he spent three months at SFI as an artist-in-res­i­dence, cre­at­ing a se­ries of com­plex­ity-themed draw­ings to il­lus­trate the in­sti­tute’s re­search themes and giv­ing pre­sen­ta­tions on graf­fiti and in­dige­nous cul­ture. He con­tin­ues to cre­ate draw­ings for SFI publications, and in ad­di­tion to mak­ing art, he also teaches yoga, which he sees as con­nected to graf­fiti. The phys­i­cal nature of both ac­tiv­i­ties re­quires repet­i­tive, ded­i­cated prac­tice and the de­vel­op­ment of mus­cle mem­ory and per­sonal style. “It’s the ex­pe­ri­ence you em­body, that cir­cle, where it be­comes a self-por­trait,” he said. “It’s the way you show up in this en­vi­ron­ment, in this mo­ment in time.”


Al­berto Zalma, Aezrock (A Self Por­trait) (de­tail), mixed me­dia on wood panel; op­po­site page, Jo­er­ael El­liott: Icon­o­clas­tic Net­work Vari­a­tions (de­tail), mixed-me­dia mu­ral

David-Alexan­der Hub­bard Sloan: Hosh Ní­mazí Ní­jaa’í Brady Pin Cush­ion Cac­tus (de­tail), acrylic on board

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