Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sergio Garcia In Formal Attire

From graffiti artist, to airbrush artist, from putting together huge murals to putting together huge art shows, Sergio Garcia is a man of many trades. He's been one of the creative minds that works behind the scenes at Kettle Art Gallery in Deep Ellum, and this Saturday Kettle Art Gallery will proudly host Sergio's first solo exhibit, Formal.

I've known Sergio for over a year now. I consider him a dear friend, but if you didn't know us, you'd think that we hate each other. Truth is we are like bickering siblings, and I love all my siblings, especially the ones I bicker with.

A couple weeks ago Sergio and I sat down and did and talked about Formal and a few other things that make this guy the great guy that he is:

SR: How did you get started as an artist?

SG: I started drawing in school, then i got into graffiti, and after graffiti I started doing murals.

SR: Tell me what it was like being a graffiti artist.

SG: A graffiti artist now and a graffiti artist back when I started are two very different things. Now its more quantity over quality, especially in the Dallas scene.

Graffiti is almost a form of hip hop. It's a competitive thing where people keep pushing to do be original. Nowadays more kids have the exact same letters, like the exact same “e”, the exact same “a”, but when I came in everybody was trying to do something different.

SR: How exactly do you guys pick your names?

SG: There are a lot of different ways. You try to pick a name that nobody has. Mine was given to me by someone. Sometimes it describes them, they like the name, or maybe they like the letters.

SR: How did you evolve from doing graffiti to doing the bikes and fine artwork?

SG: Dumb luck. I got in trouble and then I met Frank (Campagna) and he brought me with him to paint the tunnels. After we painted the Good Latimer Tunnel, Frank hit me up with jobs. I guess he was impressed by my speed. Then he started turning me onto other jobs, and then they wanted me to start doing things for them.

I was asked to paint for a place called Strokers. While I was painting at Strokers I painted the ceiling. While i was painting the ceiling the CEO of Iron Horse came in and offered me a job painting motorcycles. I was hired to paint motorcycles even though I hadn't ever painted a motorcycle.

SR: When your style of artwork changed, did you change as a person?

SG: No not at all. I always felt that graffiti goes on the street. I only recently considered myself an artist, and now I hang stuff on a wall. It's hard to digest that. People's reactions to what i do makes me do it more. With the graffiti I didn't want anybody to know who I was. I couldn't care less if people talked about it, so it was kind of dumbed down. Now with art, it's a whole different thing. I get the most positive response from my artwork.

SR: Who are some of your influences?

SG: I lucked out in graffiti, and I lucked out in art because my closest friends, who are like my family, all have mad skills. Like Luke Harden, Mark Nelson, Richard Ross, Hal Samples, it's the people who are obviously on it and there's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I love them all dearly, and I see them and their hearts in their art. When I see something by Mark [Nelson], it could have a zebra on it, but I see Mark.

SR: So, would you say that the artists you admire the most are

actually people that you know?

SG: Yeah, for sure.

SR: Tell me about how you got involved with Kettle Art and what you've been doing with them.

SG: One of the landlords down here [in Deep Ellum}asked Frank advice on what this neighborhood needs and Frank said we need more of what its about:

music and art. Frank, with Kirk [Hopper], put together a crew like he did in the past with the Good Latimer Tunnel, and there was probably a group of six or seven of us. He gave us kind of like a pep talk. If we're down to do it then he'll do it. We were all in, but the only people who stuck around from that meeting were me, Amber, and Judith. We all came together and just started doing shows.

I remember the time a brought in Havi Frost. I introduced Frank to Havi and Mark. Havi wanted to do a show, she had the idea for Oddities. Frank wasn't sure of how it would do, but that was the show where Kettle kind of took a turn, and at that point Havi developed this trust where anything she wanted to do she could do. She became a curator. Since then she and Mark have been two of the most valuable assets Kettle has. I've thrown a few shows like The Horror Show, the graffiti show [These Fools' Art Show] and Formal coming up and its all keeping ideas together and making it a good show.

SR: How did you come up with such a unique idea for a show like formal?

SG: I got to a point where I realized that people in the art community establish a name. I went to a show and they did some real crazy real silly type of shit. I was talking to Kirk afterward and and it was crazy because we were still talking about that. It was the silliest piece of art, but Here I am still talking about it. Thats pretty cool in a sense. Sometimes I feel like being an artist is like being in a band, or being in business, where you want to establish a name for yourself. That's how i came up with Formal. Formal is calling out the art world.

If you have a big name you can do whatever and automatically that painting is worth a million dollars. It's the same with a high-end company. They put something out and thats what they look for is that name. I'd be lying if i said that i don't want my stuff to sell for a lot of money.

On some of these taxidermy animals for the show, I'm putting name brands on them. Someone asked me if it's an animal rights deal, and thats awesome. It's like religion: if thats what works for you then thats cool, but thats not really why I'm doing it. I like it. It'ts something I would want and thats why I paint it.

The idea of dressing up came because when you dress up, you feel kind of different. It's not necessarily better, and it's not something you can put your finger on. I want people to set that vibe. I want people to dress up and be part of the show. If people don't dress up i want them to be say “I could of done this” or “I could have worn this kind of suit.”. It's kind of like on Halloween. When people don't dress up they start spittin up all these ideas, but they should have thought of that before.

SR: Tell me about the after party at Dada, and why you chose these specific DJs.

SG: Yeah! cause they're gangsta thats why. Really they're all my friends, but they're also doing really well. I'm super proud of the guys that I have coming in. They're actually making a scene in Dallas. It's The Party: Sober, Select and Nature. They're super cool dudes, and its the same with the Cool Out, with Jay and Tony, and Killtronix and Hot Flash. They're all doing a lot of positive things. They bringi people out. I asked them and it really didn't even need to be said: if I'm having an after party, then those guys will be involved.

SR: Didn't you say that you were going to have some breakers there, and that they have to dress up as well?

SG: No they don't have to, I'm sure that there will be breakers there, and it would be nice if they did dress up. Actually my girlfriend's group will preform: the Ruby Revue.

SR: Can you tell me about them?

SG: The Ruby Revue is like a hip hop burlesque group. It's a unique, original thing. They'll be doing a song or two.

SR: You've worked with a lot of different people in the area on Formal. Who's done what?

SG: I love each and every one of these people so much, like Hal Samples. He's doing a bunch for Formal. I don't want to put it all out there, but you'll see at the show. He's one of the most inspiring people I've met recently, Mark Nelson's helped me make some frames. Havis done three or four photo shoots . Erica [Felicella] helped me do a photo shoot for the flyer. Havi helped me with the flyers. Autumn helped me put the flyers together.

Kirk has helped me out the furthest There wouldn't be a lot of stuff happening idealistically without Kirk and he helped me maneuver things with his truck. I can only fit so many things in my car. He helped me stretch canvases. He helped me move the taxidermy animals. He's got my back on it, and so does Frank. Frank also helped me out with getting the flyers together and doing the video press. He and Erica are doing stuff for press, and you, Alison, and Cari helped me with my press release. Theres a guy named Connor who blows glass, and, well, it was a lot of people. Oh, and Elisa's dog, Avery, has been a big help as well.

SR: What are you interested in developing with yourself? What interests you the most as far as your artwork goes?

SG: I know with Formal I'm trying to make a statement. I'd like to evolve later on in life, maybe do murals that make a real big statement like what Diego Rivera did. Kinda politicalish. I want to people to think a lot more than they do. It's kind of why i did graffiti as well. I spent all of 2007 working on skill, so I'm going to do all 2008 focusing on style, so now if theres an image i want to paint i can paint it. Next its all style.

SR: So you were figuring out how to do it, now you're figuring out what you want to do?

SG: Yeah, I can reproduce something, now its whats going to make it me.

SR: Are you ever going to have some sort of a day job?

SG: You mean a 9 to 5?

SR: Yes.

SG: No.

SR: Are you going to live the life of an artist?

SG: Yes.

You can see the beauty of Formal Saturday (2.16) from 7-10pm, and the after party is a few doors down at Dada. Make sure to look snazzy!

-pictures from Sergio's myspace page, Kettle Art, and Frank Campagna.


bill h said...

very nice interview. I hope to make it Saturday, I'll be coming in from out of town. Exciting show, great questions.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. We're playing the Vagina Monologues at UTD and while it's fun, I won't be at the opening of the show in time BUT I will make ze afterparty!

It sounds like it is going to be tremendous!