May 4 2010 07:02 PM

The guy behind the dapper man in bondage on the front page of this week's CityBeat

coverartist-prime

At 54, Josue Castro has had a long road to photography.

To please his parents, he earned a degree in graphic design from the Universidad Iberoamericano in Mexico City, where he grew up.

He later studied painting and started showing his work in Hillcrest 15 years ago. Now, he's working on photography thanks to San Diego City College and San Diego photographer David Fokos, Castro's friend, mentor and model for the piece on the cover of the week's CityBeat.

“With one, you paint with acrylics, oils or other kinds of material. With photos, you paint with light. Because that's the etymology of photography—‘painting with light,'” Castro says.

Now living in Hillcrest with his wife, Castro was inspired to create the image on this week's cover and the accompanying series Equal=Secret Identities following the passage of Prop. 8, which banned gay marriage in California.

“I live in Hillcrest; I have a lot of friends in the gay community,” he says. “When Prop. 8 revoked their rights, I started working on this project about secret identities. People really change once they know your secret. Otherwise, they don't care.

“The idea is to make people feel that once you know the secret of anybody, you start treating the people different,” he adds. “That's the main concept of this project.”

In Equal=Secret Identities, Castro's subjects are participants in the S&M / bondage subculture. With each portrait titled using the subject's occupation, Castro seeks to explore the divisiveness people experience once their opinions are known—whether it's support of gay marriage, religion or involvement in bondage.

“All the people in my project are real people,” Castro says, “people that are into [S&M]. It's more about secret identities that I tried to show, more than bondage.”

The photographs, which are 5-by-8-feet and printed on canvas, evoke the iconic pictures in older Mexican churches that were used to teach the Bible to illiterate parishioners. Here, Castro backlights the subject, creating a halo of sorts.

“I just like to make it look—the photo—like religious icons,” Castro explains. “They're huge images; they're very big photos.

“The purpose of the image was to make it look in the museum like one of the saints from old Mexican churches; that's why there's kind of a radiant glow, a halo, in order to make it look like a religious icon from 500 years ago, from those very old churches.”

Castro's exhibition was at Little Italy's Jett Gallery (989 W. Kalmia St.), where Castro works as a curator, and is traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico, before heading to San Francisco. You can see his work at antrodelaluz.blogspot.com.

Calendar

  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • The former local boy and creator of the highly influential blog, Advanced Style, will be signing and discussing his third book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, which features inspiring pictures and stories...
  • C.J. Chenier and Bonsoir Catin headline this annual Cajun inspired festival. Also enjoy 10,000 pounds of crawfish, dancing and cooking demonstrations. Held at Spanish Landing Park, across from the...
  • A Cinco de Mayo party featuring $2 tacos, cocktails and live music from Bostich+Fussible, Javiera Mena and Gepe
  • A spoken word showcase hosted by English instructor Karla Cordero and her City College students. There will also be a special reading from poet Mercedez Holtry, as well as an art and photography show....
  • Widely known as host of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live and for his role in the Showtime dramedy Weeds, Kevin Nealon brings his unique humor back to the stand-up stage
  • New works from over a dozen UCSD undergraduate students. Participating artists include Charity Algarme, Richard Lin, Joseph Maas, Ignatius Nguyen, and more
  • This video art exhibition from UCSD MFA candidate Stefani Byrd features two installations that explore the themes of breath, mediation, and the nature of time. Takes place in the VAF Performance Space,...
See all events on Thursday, May 5