Beto a.k.a "Deckstah" or "Dec" is the latest artist to have an exhibit at the Dream Chasers Club Gallery located in downtown El Paso. A native El Pasoan and art lover, "Dec" has been painting for as long as he can remember. When asked, he could not recall exactly what lead him to do art, but he say it was something that he knew he wanted to do and it is something that came natural to him. However, "Dec" did mention that as he got older he did become more influenced by other people and that was when he started to take his art more seriously. "Maybe not as an artist doing shows or commissions like I do today, but more as just wanting to get better and develop as an artist by trying new methods and techniques." No matter what was going in his life, he mentions that art was something that he continued to do. "It was always in the back of my mind and every opportunity or free time I had I dedicated it to developing myself as an artist, especially these last 5-7 years. So its really been something that has just been in me."
From Beto's love of art came many things like his nickname. "My actual name is "Dec", but Deckstah has also been a name people have called me. I have used the name Dec since the early 90's during my graffiti years, which stands for "Destroy Every City". It was just my mentality in those days to where I wanted to paint the world." He added that he still continues to graffiti, however, the difference is that he gets permission beforehand.
For those of you that are not familiar with "Dec's" work, it is very colorful and very geometric like shown the pictures below. I asked him how he came about developing his style and his reasoning behind it. His response to that was, "I have always been intrigued by shapes, colors, lines, and how they fit together so I was always messing around and experiemnting as to how I could put all these different aspects together, but I would have to say maybe the last 8 years is when I developed the form of art I do now. It really came about by trial and error, experimenting, as well as inspiration from other artists, but I think I still have more to offer and I think I am still developing this style of art. There is still much I want to do with it." He added that besides improving his art, he hopes to reach larger audiences. "I do plan on creating a website pretty soon with products and new paintings, but at the moment Im just embracing everything that has and is coming my way. Im just happy and living in the moment right now and it feels pretty good."
As a final thought, "Dec" wanted to thank Desert of my Eye and added, "a big thank you to my family, my cousin Tito for believing in me, Jam at Dreamchasers for pushing me, and the whole camp at the Kalavera shop (Cimi, Mask, Blast, Kata, and Leslie) for giving me the opportunity to better myself as an artist and for all the opportunaties they have put in front of me. I couldnt ask for anything more. I also want to thank everyone who supports me as well even if its a like, sharing my photos, and buying my art. I appreciate it and words cant express how grateful I am of everyones support."
On behalf of Desert of my Eye, a big thank you to "Dec"! Make sure to go check out his exhibit at Dream Chasers Club this month. Follow him on Instagram as: deckstah915
"I rather be poor and do what I love than be a rich engineer in an office."
Ever since he can remember, Arturo Gardea has been fascinated with painting. Particularly, painting with the purest intentions. Arturo can recall that he has loved painting ever since he was a little kid. He says that drawing has been a sort of therapy for as long as he can remember. "I wasn't born an artist, life made me an artist." He also mentioned that even as a child he has always felt like he didn't belong which is why he said that "the canvas are my children. I can have a dialogue with them." He described it to me as always feeling like an outsider and that art was his outlet. He was telling me that since a young age we are told what to do and it's learning to step away from that which is hard, but that is exactly what he did.
Arturo studied at the University of Texas at El Paso, where he switched major several times until he found something he was happy with. "No one sees art as something serious. When I was in high school, it was decided that I was good at math. My dad told me to be an engineer and I was honestly good at it. I even began studying electric engineering at UTEP." Arturo added that even at that point in his life he felt alone and when it came to group work, he would always end up alone as well. He didn't fit in with any of his classmates or their discussions so he began to ditch some of his classes. He would go sit-in for some art classes that were painting live.
An art professor approached him one day and asked why he wasn't in any art classes. In an instant, Arturo decided to change his life path. "That is when I decided to change my major to graphic design. My dad got pissed, but my mom was cool with it. I was quick to notice that there were a lot of restrictions in the graphic design major and I became unhappy with it as well. That is when I knew that art chose me. I changed my major once again and this time to painting." That was when Arturo began his now profound journey into art and would be the start into his path towards creating his Happy Creatures.
Arturo then began talking about how he has always admired Jean-Michel Basquiat. He looked up at the fact that Basquiat was already known at the age of 22, which is every artists dream: to gain recognition from such an early stage. "His style is very free." He added, "children's art is free and pure. Children paint what they want, the way they want. With no background on technique and what materials to use. Picasso thought the same about children. I liked that concept and I love simplicity, which is why I began doing characters (referring to his Happy Creatures)". He wanted to go against the usual aesthetics. When Arturo started Happy Creatures, it was clear that the name was ironic. There was mostly pain being portrayed smiling creatures at the center of that "chaos". There is a re-ocurring black figure/mask he paints like in the picture below, which he says is based on the Aztecs. "It's a figure that's described as being able to transform and even consume children. The name Happy Creatures was very ironic and now it's going back there again." He mentions it's going back there again because for about a year they have actually been the Happy Creatures.
As one can see with the Frida and Alien Happy Creatures, the name is no longer an ironic They are actually happy and colorful! A complete opposite! "Color came out. I went back to using primary colors and making them very nice looking. I wanted to make something that my nieces would be proud of. However, I recently came back to the masks and "mutilated" figures which are more representative of my chaotic relationships with women and life. Also, I have been experimenting with lots of abstract. That is something hard for me. I even began to paint the face of my first girlfriend again (in slideshow below). I began talking to her again. She is also very talented at art and she inspires me. It's hard for someone to inspire me. I hope that people can see my work for what it is."
A big thank you to Arturo for not only sharing his art, but his thoughts as well! Go follow his art on Instagram: hapycreature
Facebook: arturo: artist happy creatures
"Everyday is a beautiful challenge filled with opportunity and growth. Life can't be easily determined for me." - Taylor Czerwinski.
It's that open and optimistic mindset above that Taylor has, which ultimately lead her to start her own magazine. A South Carolina native and visionary, Taylor Czerwinski, created a music and art magazine called 9 to 5 Magazine, which covers bands in and around the Charleston, South Carolina area. Charleston's music scene is rapidly growing and Taylor saw it as an opportunity to write about the talent in the area.
The name of the magazine is pretty much inspired by the "typical" American 9 to 5 job schedule. Taylor was not happy with her own 9 to 5 job, so she decided to follow her heart and start this magazine and instead focus on something she likes. Desert of my Eye is also like 9 to 5 in the sense that we like to portray the rapidly growing music scene in our city with the hope of spreading the message elsewhere and one day being able to travel to places to discover new bands. I hope everyone enjoys the project that is 9 to 5 Music and Art Magazine and realizes how important it is to support things like this. Supporting independent magazines like this is basically supporting the local bands featured on it as well. You never know when you will find something you like.
The first issue of the magazine is available for pre-order and will be sent out and physically be available in January. 9 to 5 also has a website that includes a more detailed description of the magazine, it's purpose and it's future endeavors. Pictured above is the cover of the first issue of 9 to 5 Music and Art and Magazine, which futures a picture of the band Heyrocco. Heyrocco also happens to be one of the bands that inspired Taylor for this project to begin with.
Taylor hopes that everyone enjoys the magazine as much as she and the 9 to 5 team has enjoyed making it. It's full of great content and beautifully taken pictures. The 9 to 5 Magazine website also has it's own blog and I encourage people to go and read and see what's up in Charleston, South Carolina. Below are a few pictures of the bands that will be featured on issue number 1.
"I’d like to consider myself an earthling child with no defined attachment to imaginary borders, related to everyone and everything on this planet."- Sara Dungo
Sara Dungo is a girl from South Carolina who is currently "seeking grace". In doing so, she has created some very rad things whether it is her temporary tattoo business called Transient Collective or her new home on wheels as pictured below. Sara is currently living in a 90's Ford airport shuttle, which she is continually modifying it until it is fully livable. She calls the van Eva, named after the girl robot from WallŸ E. In explaining her projects, Sara mentioned that Eva is "a nomadic studio, a spaceship for my travels both terrestrial and astral, as well as my tiny home on wheels. Generally my projects revolve around creation. Photography, drawing, exploring, connecting with others to name a few. Out of all of this was born Transient Collective, my hand drawn temporary tattoos and jewelry. The tattoos are a symbol of life’s impermanent beauty. The need to incorporate a connection to earth within my business was a necessity, which is why every tattoo sold helps fund planting one tree through reforestation efforts."
I believe people take trees, life, tattoos (to name a few) for granted and it's people with a project like this that have an impact. Sara said that a lot of events in her life have lead her to make these decisions like living in van, striving for a better world, and staying true to herself. Deep down, she always knew she would end up doing something like this. Sara said that she had been in the house-cleaning business for a long time. She cleaned houses for people who were never home and just slaved away at work all day. She couldn't help but notice everything wrong with that. "Throughout college I had always been on the go and semi living out of a jeep, but always gawking over school bus conversions, airstreams and the likes. A few years later, life presented me with a choice; choose to settle down and accept a marriage proposal with a destructive relationship, or... run. So I ran. All the way across the country from the east coast to the Hawaiian Islands…. Hawaii completely changed my life. It exposed my senses to the beauty that still exists on our planet and the importance of protecting it. Living on Maui was extremely healing."
I really admire what Sara is doing. Her story and choices really resonate with me. Not everyone has the cojones to put their life savings in a van and fulfill their dreams. She admitted that she initially regretted buying the van, but once she bought it she fell in love with it. She admits that even the struggles she faces with it will help her learn, move on and keep on pushing. She hopes that she can achieve a life that aligns with her "values and notions."
To anyone doubting whether they should go chase their dreams, she has this to say: "If there is something someone is trying to chase their dreams but they are unsure, I would ask that person: "Will this endeavor affirm impact for your life and therefore spread positivity outwards?" If the answer is yes; then don’t hesitate. Be persistent and knowledgeable in taking steps today to begin the personal journey of following what feels right. And most importantly, be patient with yourself."
A huge thank you to Sara Dungo for taking the time to tell me about her project and for sharing her light with the world. Follow her projects on Instagram:
Growing up I always used to admire murals, whether they were in El Paso or anywhere else. Something I noticed was that a lot of graffiti murals were signed C/S, but I never knew what it meant and no one ever told me. Years passed and I didn't think about it's mysterious meaning until last year when I went to Los Angeles and saw some of the murals. Sure enough some of them had the C/S. Not only that, but I read a book called Drink Cultura by José Antonio Burciaga and it has a chapter dedicated to Con Safos. He signs off every chapter with an C/S. That is when I learned it's meaning.
No one knows the exact origin of Con Safos or who was the first to use it, but it is used a lot in graffiti. Con Safos literally means "with safety". "It was meant as a safety precaution, a barrio copyright, patent pending." (Burciaga, 1993) Con Safos is like an honor code or even an "amen". In other words it means "anything you say against me will bounce back to you." (Burciaga, 1993) In literature, the C/S is also more of that of an "amen."
Burciaga does a good job of explaining it, I finally understand why it's so important. Every time I see one, I smile back in respect. I hope everyone can one day why it is important: both symbolically and culturally.
Burciaga, J. A. (1993). Drink Cultura. Santa Barbara, CA: Joshua Odell Editions.