When it came time to choose an art piece for our cover this week, we were divided between two worthy works by Alli Bautista, a Filipina artist from Rancho Peñasquitos. She's known for her meticulous and lovely typographic illustrations, but her drawings are equally detailed and maybe a tad unnerving. In the end, her piece "The Truth is Alarming" won out for that very reason.

The work resulted from Bautista reaching a definitive place in her spiritual journey.

"It's funny, because it was inspired by my moment of realization that I was atheist," Bautista says. "The main focus for the bearded guy is the expression on his face. It's supposed to represent the moment he realizes how dysfunctional the institution of religion actually is. On an individual level, worship and prayer can be a wonderful thing. But on a large scale, it can cause great destruction."

The illustration took hours of labor. When she added mandalas, which constantly appear in her work, to the eyes, the drawing took on a psychedelic feel and a deeper meaning, because she believes that psychedelic drugs "bring people out of their mindset." At that point in her spiritual quest, it was something with which she could identify.

She added the beard 30 minutes before an art show to fill in part of the negative space. As often happens with beards, things started looking much creepier.

"I notice that I like really pretty things, but I also like really creepy stuff," Bautista says. "It's a weird balance."

That duality exists in Bautista's personal life, too. Growing up with parents who valued smart career choices but also having an undeniable creative side led her to find a meeting point. She works a day job at an aerospace company and then takes pen to paper at night and pursues her passion.

You can check out Bautista's work at Sacred Geometry, a mandala-art show happening at Basic, the East Village bar and pizza place, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 19.

Write to alexz@sdcitybeat.com. You can also bug her on Twitter.


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