The bathroom is yours, let’s make it interesting!
In terms of “public” art spaces, bathrooms are traditionally overlooked, a missed opportunity for an artist and the public to have a shared experience. By offering this blank three-dimensional canvas our goal is to give the artist the opportunity for creative expression while we and the public at large get the opportunity to think differently about a space that is traditionally thought of as a solely utilitarian.
From May - July we will be featuring our first local artist Abe Alvarez - Tostado.
Abe is a born and raised Californian. His parent’s divorced when he was young and he spent the first 15 years of his life with his Father in Northern California. As the son of an illustrator, Abe found himself trying to mimic his Dad’s work. He was inspired by his favorite comics at the time and would frequently try to recreate the cover’s of Wolverine, X-Men and Avengers. When Abe turned 15 he moved south to Long Beach, with his sister and Mom.
Abe’s Mom was a fine artist and sculptor, she opened up a whole new creative world for Abe, attending galleries and art shows all over LA. At the time he was entrenched in skateboard culture and was influenced by Mark Gonzales and Neal Blender, two well known skateboarders and artists.
It was around this time that Abe realized he wanted to start taking his art seriously. After about 5 years in the LBC and another 3 years in the desert, Abe decided to make the move north again, but this time to San Francisco, to try and make a living with his artwork. It was slow moving at first, but after a few years of drawing and going to openings, Abe landed his own shows at galleries like 111 Minna and Upper Playground with artists like Doze Green, Jeremy Fish and Mark Ryden. In 2008, Abe decided to move back to Southern California to be closer to family and now resides here, with a studio in Yucca Valley where he produces all of his work.
F10 - What is the name of the piece on display at Birba?
AAT - ”Somebody's Watching Me,” from one of my favorite songs...Rockwell's ”Somebody's Watching Me.”
F10 - What themes do you tend to pursue in your work?
AAT - The all-seeing eye. The sense that we are all here and always watching each other, even if we don't mean too.
F10 - Where do you draw your inspiration from?
AAT - Life in general. Everyday situations or ideas. I tend to use people or animals in every painting.
F10 - How did you start making art / what is your background?
AAT - I can't remember when I started to paint. Both my parents were artists so art supplies were always available. My mom has a painting I did when I was around 5-years-old. So maybe around then? I really came into my own around high school, that's when I was doing the good stuff.
F10 - What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without?
AAT - My imagination. With that, you could use any tool. Printing, drawing, painting, sculpture…anything.
F10 - Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most and why?
AAT - I guess just trying to do something new every day. Keep fresh. Always trying to expand on your art.
F10 - How do you know when a piece is finished?
AAT - I never do. It's never finished. I've been known to go back and work on paintings that have been on my wall for 10 years. I've gone to friends houses that purchased a painting of mine 5 years earlier and asked to take it home and add something to it because I saw something new.
F10 - What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your artistic career?
AAT - Never stop doing art. Never give up. Just keep producing.