Instagram started looking like King's Landing last Saturday, as dozens of people took photos of themselves sitting on the Game of Thrones-inspired sculpture hand-built by Optimus Volts for his solo show at Thumbprint Gallery (920 Kline St. in La Jolla).
"People couldn't get enough of that throne," laughs Isaac Coronado, who throws on a lucha-libre Mexican wrestling mask and assumes the pseudonym Optimus Volts for his latest body of work—nefarious-looking, spikey sculptures made of torn-apart and reconfigured spray-paint cans.
Coronado's solo show features 14 eye-catching sculptures—including several wall-mounted pieces that mimic taxidermy animal heads—and is on view at Thumbprint Gallery through Sept. 7.
It's no surprise that the idea for the sharp, jagged works of art came from a place of anger. As Coronado tells the origin story of what's become known loosely as his "Bitches" series, the idea for tearing up old spray-paint cans and repurposing them as contemporary art came while he was an art student at Southwestern College, working under the late, great Michael Schnorr. Coronado had just been befriended then dumped by three female students who wanted an easy A in the class and took advantage of his art expertise. Pissed off, he started in on one of his graffiti paintings and then quickly let his anger guide him to ripping apart the cans and piecing them back together in a Jackson Pollock-like colorful and chaotic wall piece that caught Schnorr's and others' attention.
Not long after coming up with the compelling technique, though, Coronado dropped out of the art game. Years flew by without him making any art at all. It wasn't until the artist EZ Rock found him working in the paint department at Home Depot and started pestering him to come out to shows that Coronado eventually worked his way back into the underground art scene.
People responded immediately to his intense work—someone liked it so much, they stole three of his pieces from an exhibition at Stronghold (formerly The Spot) in Barrio Logan last year.
"As soon as I started showing this stuff, it was like, bang," Coronado says, snapping his fingers. "They just love this style."