Its easy to follow Anselmo Garcia through the alleys of his memory, as a graffiti artist in Tijuana since the early 1990s and part of the Barrio Logan art movement thats changing the perception of the neighborhood today. A conversation touches on his journey growing up on both sides of the border and reveals urban arts evolution in the last 20 years.
Garcia says he joined HEM Crew in 1990, a family of artists thats been pushing graffiti, art and culture in Tijuana for more than two decades. HEM Crew held a one-night art expo at the Centro Cultural Tijuana last weekend; they live-painted the walls and talked about their art and their groups history.
A lot of people dont know that I do graffiti, says Garcia, who has a degree in graphic design and is currently focused on other types of painting. Im getting older and not doing as much as I used to, so Im a little more comfortable coming out and saying this is who I am.
Garcia will open a solo show, The Paradox of Portals, at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29 at Voz Alta (1754 National Ave. in Barrio Logan). His last show was a tribute to his father, who died in 2009; it, too, was held at Voz Alta and was composed entirely of paintings of roosters. The flyer for Paradox depicts a rooster flying sideways out of a window, which represents the passing of Garcia from one stage of life to the next.
Its releasing, seeing myself move off from the emotional ties that were attached to my art, he says.
Ive had some wild experiences, he adds, and my art has changed in a good way, so Ive tried to collect that information and work with what Ive experienced, so the show goes through documenting those emotions.
Therell be 20 new pieces at the gallery, presented in different installations, each representing a portal from one stage of Garcias life to the next. Large, painted cider bottles will be displayed on a lazy Susan; Garcia has also painted self-portraits on the windows of an antique door that will hang nearby.
Its surreal, Garcia says of the exhibition, and shows that if you hold onto your dreams, you can make them whatever you want.
A piece by Garcia that you may have seen is the huge mural on the side of whats now San Diego Public Market on National Avenue. The former building owners approved the project that Garcia funded and executed himself, along with his crew. Hopefully, itll stay there.
Barrio Logan is really pushing toward a whole new way of looking at art in the area and changing the negativity that a lot of people had about it being a scary place, Garcia says. Its really changing for the better.