Our city is on fire; the dragon has laid it breathes upon us and the inferno is raging furiously. This dark cloud of terror has come to call Pueblo Colorado “home’.
Pueblo has all the drugs, the guns, the opiate epidemic. We have poverty and homelessness and welfare culture. Penetentary life is pop culture, and gang activity is business as usual. If a city can have and social disorder, Pueblo probably suffers from it.
Gangs, corrupt cops, cartels, biker gangs, absentee parents, hustlers and low lives, all live here. So much so that we consistently make national news for just how far we have slipped.
In February 2016 I was honored to paint a Mural within the gallery at CSU Pueblo as well as give an artist talk as a part of a curated art show titled “Localized Radical” Localization, and how art and artists interact with environments and communities was the topic. Choosing to confront the issue of violence in our community, the above pictured mural was my expression. In this article, I will discuss briefly my ideas and experiences with the topic of violence in the community, and also how art can affect it.
When exactly it happened, I’m not sure, but very early on I heard the streets calling out for me. In 1992 I discovered graffiti art, and it became an outlet for my creativity and an inspirational force behind my love for exploring. Often graffiti artists venture to the hidden and obscure places of the city. It is here that we see much of the darkness. The undersides of bridges where the homeless sleep and drugs are in constant use. Dead bodies get found in our artistic playgrounds. Tunnels, trains, abandoned you name its ,all get looked over.
Graffiti artists get to pass through the world both high and low. Being involved partially in gang culture and partially in the culture of high art. Making for a very unique perspective on the world.
As a mural artist, I’m always on the streets with my eyes and ears open. This perspective gives a unique experience of the cultures within the places I paint. It is from the streets where I gain my greatest inspirations.
The Painting depicts a community of monsters and other items engaged in various acts of violence. The wound’s drip blood which then evaporates into floating hearts throughout the painting. The idea was to express the transmutation of violence into love. The painting is done with acrylic and took a week to complete. The composition draws from many experiences that I have had with violence both real and imagined. This is one artistic interpretation of these ideas about the condition of our community and always of myself.
Pueblo Colorado has a distinct culture, one with vibrant characters and mysteries shrouded in glossed over stares. A culture where darkness and despair have been commonplace, and for so long, that this misery has become the mascot of the city. The gang members display tattoos like billboards to inform the on-lookers that this may not be the safest place sit still. Pueblo experiences trouble and fear and all of the misfortune that any American city could know. Pueblo has been stricken with the opiate epidemic, which has come to define our city. Day-Drifters lay sleeping in unseen locations, precarious orange lids line the gutters of the highest profile streets like glitter on cupcakes. Syringes scattered upon the alleys, underpasses, playgrounds, schoolyards, and churches outside. Murders and thefts give this community an infamous reputation throughout the nation, the gaping wound in the state of Colorado. The complacency over the generations has made Pueblo the place to be if you dare to enter the underbelly and the shadier side of things.
One disastrous event after another brought us here and the rest has belonged the devils that took hold soon after. A long documented history of violence and corruption plagues this city. Attracting to it, all the forms of violence both inside and out. Outwardly violence directed to others or the inward violence directed at ourselves. These two are partners, and they influence each other and help one another grow. Self-hate mutates into hatred for others. And the hatred we have for others becomes the disgust we have for ourselves.
Pueblo is the village of broken hearts, broken families, broken promises, broken systems; a broken fucking city.
Domestic violence, child abuse, physical and sexual assaults, drug related violence, money related violence, suicides all happen regularly in this city.
Making Pueblo the perfect place to incubate creative culture.
The Energy in this city is intense, and it has become very dark. It is time for us to reverse this energy and fill this city with light. And I aim to do this by shedding light on some of the most taboo topics, through art, which our community faces at this very moment in time.
Injecting art into communities is a form of medicine which forces its viewers to use their minds and often their imaginations. Art is a bridge which spans the gaps between our differences. Art allows communication between different classes and different origins. Art is one of the greatest forms of communication for making impressions upon people. Art can be a healing force, and it is important to use art to convey these ideas to one another
The ability to bring people together is the power of art, and it is used for both good and bad.
Inwardly art allows us to confront our deepest struggles and move past them. Outwardly art shows that humans share the same anxieties and struggles and that these problems can be dealt with.
My artwork tends to express the high levels of energy which come from angst, depression, and narcissism. In many cases, my art displays outright violent acts, and in other cases, it shows the ideas of violence subtly.
My goal is to work on art which reflects our communities current situation to bring attention, awareness, and education to these topics. Through public art, community participation, and the conversations that art gives rise to, we can bring a new aesthetic to Pueblo. which will help us to realize our potential and move out of the hole, the dark vortex that we are sucked into.
If you would like to contribute to mural projects in the city you can donate via paypal.
The Shadows is an art therpay program aimed at helping the world to learn to express and let go of the dark parts of ourselves through art and creative processes. Donations help to further the video project, work with inmates and youth, and create art of my own to share the message.