07/09/2016 - 07/30/2016
FOLKLORE REMIX: A three-artist exhibition focused on remixing mythology with street art sensibility showcasing original artwork by Rodrigo Oñate, Luis Fitch, & Repo.
Folklore, by its nature, is very old but very much alive. All cultures have their own mythologies and tall tales, their creation myths and ghost stories, their fairy tales and hometown heroes. Whether it’s Paul Bunyon or the chupacabra, the Maco Light or the Day of the Dead, each generation hears, learns, and retells their stories in their own way, passing on a mutable truth through oral tradition like a centuries-long game of Telephone.
In this upcoming exhibition, Rodrigo Oñate, Luis Fitch, & Repo do not simply retell the stories of their childhood; they remix them. They have retrofitted their Mexican, Central American, and Minnesotan mythologies with a crisp, vibrant street art sensibility. Like old school vinyl on a DJ’s turntable, each artist’s cultural background is spun, scratched, and remade into works of art that are altogether fresh and new.
Luis Fitch’s Día de los Muertos-inspired wheatpaste prints can be seen gracing lightpoles and alleyways around Minneapolis and in cities across the continent. A native of Tijuana, Fitch went to school in San Diego and eventually landed in Minnesota in the late ‘90s. The dichotomy of life within these two worlds, the ‘South’ (Mexico) and the ‘North’ (The United States) was an important influencing artistic factor. He quickly learned to adapt, developing his own individual artistic and cultural identity. His work is immediately recognizable in its graphic simplicity: a bright, playful, vectorized update to traditional Mexican iconography that speaks to the problems of modern-day Mexico such as government corruption and drug war violence. Combining contemporary digital technology with “Papel Picado,” the Mexican technique of colorful hand cut paper dating back to the 18th century, Fitch’s work moves us seamlessly across cultures and through time.
Another native of Mexico now living in Minneapolis, Rodrigo (Roco) Oñate, shares Fitch’s talent for vivid and evocative imagery. Roco’s paintings and drawings burst with color and pattern, each picture plane filled to capacity with bizarre woodland creatures and fairy tale characters methodically covered in stripes, dots, feathers, and symbols, like a Mexico City-based Where The Wild Things Are. Each piece has the energy of a wild parade, with birds, fish, rabbits, children, and beasts leering with piercing, cartoonish eyes. The narratives here are harder to pinpoint, but they carry the weight of an ancient, shamanistic tradition, like age-old murals restored to their original, eye-popping luster. A fitting analogy, actually, for someone that got his start as a street artist.
Repo, a native Minnesotan and veteran of local street art, has a markedly different cultural heritage, at least in terms of recent history. Never identifying with the “hockey and homophobia” mind-set of the suburbs, where he grew up and purposefully pasteurized, conformity seemed the norm, Repo instead found solace in philosophy, science, and countercultures. He developed his own wheatpaste poster style centered around a single cartoon character whose arms and legs wrap around itself like a slightly indignant floating Buddha. The artist reworks the character every time, sometimes as a fat cat, other times an Easter bunny or a buck-toothed boy. Putting work in the street, especially reworking of the same image, has been a way to assert himself in a world where commercial bombardment defines our environment. The character has now become part of the artist’s own personal mythology as well, enjoyed and redrawn by his younger niece and nephew. In this way, his artwork carries a totemic quality and creates a unique, personally-based family folklore of its own.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Luis Fitch is an artist, designer, mentor, creative entrepreneur, and the founder and creative director of UNO Branding, a multicultural, strategic visual communication agency. After moving to the U.S. in 1985, he attended the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. While he has enjoyed great success with commercial art through his agency UNO, his personal artwork has been presented nationally and internationally and is in more than 100 collections in Latin America and the U.S. In 2015, he was one of eight recipients of the McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship. With the accelerated growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S., Luis is anxious to ensure this community is served, saying, “more than ever in the new face of America there is a great opportunity to make art centered primarily on Hispanic themes with a cross-over appeal.” http://luisfitch.com/art/
Rodrigo (Roco) Oñate is a self-taught visual artist who was born in the city of Queretaro, Mexico. He began his career as a graphic and plastic artist in 2005. Influenced by ‘80s pop culture, comic books, graffiti, Mexican culture, and artists as varied as José Luis Cuevas, Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Gary Baseman, Roco generates a combination of colors, textures, and shapes that evoke the traditional and cultural graphics of Mexican folk art through the creation of characters and visual experiences. He works with great detail and intricate texture in a variety of media, including digital illustration, watercolor, enamel, spraypaint, and acrylic. Roco has created and participated in various art exhibitions and cultural projects in Mexico and the U.S. Roco currently lives and works in Minneapolis. http://www.rawartists.org/roco86
Repo (RepoMn) is a local Twin Cities street artist. Born and raised in Minnesota, he works in various media including drawing (traditional and digital), glass, and CNC fabricated carving. Often created as a stream of conscious, Repo’s work is less an illustration of a preconceived narrative and more of an actualization of impulse from moment to moment, punctuating that playfulness with anxiety and vulgarity. He cites as his influences R. Crumb, Lee Bontecou, and Max Beckmann along with hometown heroes past and present like Mpeach, Wundr, Meta, Lawless612, ChaGlass and emerging artist HJJH. https://www.instagram.com/repomn/
PERFORMANCE // Thursday, July 28th
Performances inspired by Folklore Remix: Ghostbridge Presents A Special Benefit Performance by Stork and Raven to Aid the Unwinged Flock, Tera Kilbride, and Nico Swenson
EXHIBIT FINALE // July 30th, 2016, 7-10pm, $10 entry, $15 w/ CD
Genrebeast 3: Patch, the third of five CD release parties by Gus Watkins, other bands TBA.