An interview with Michael Alvarez

An interview with Michael Alvarez

1) Please talk a lil’ bit about the general idea/vibe behind your new series of works for Assholism.
There are assholish influences through out the paintings that are being implemented either through the actions of the subject matter, on the subject matter through outside forces(society, other people, anxiety, random things) beyond their control, through myself for the way I expressed the particular situation, or through the viewer for the possible perception of the instance. The general vibe is that sh*t happens, live with it, roll with it, and either grow from it or get caught up it in.
When I use the word assh*le, I use it loosely, so it has various degrees to it, because there are so many things that can constitute what an assh*le is (other than the literal), because it is subjective. Some paintings are serious, some are less, and some are just situations that I find awkward or funny. I’m kind of an awkward dude and I like to laugh, so it’s what I relate too. It’s crazy too because those type of situations usually make for the best stories later on in life. I really just tried to capture these specific moments in my life. I guess its the stuff that stands out in my mind the most, because I think alot about sociology and human behavior.

2) Whatʼs your earliest memory involving art or creating art?
I’ve got documentation of one of my earliest memories on my website. It’s a picture of me and my sister drawing on the walls of our house (see image below). Back then the subject matter was mostly He-Man, Popeye, Ninja Turtles, and Michael Jackson.

3) When are you most productive / when do you normally work on art?
I am normally most productive when I know I have no other obligations to take care of, and I can really zone out. Certain times of the year I get really tired at night, so I primarily work during the daytime. Sometimes I can get really in the zone and work all night, but if I do then I’ll take a few breaks to watch some South Park.

4) Tell us a bit about your new day job working with kids and how that may be starting to influence your art, since family and friends play a major role in many of your works.
It’s awesome, I’ve only been doing it for a month and so far it’s been a blast. I got hooked up through my friend Asylm with this organzation called The Heart Project. It’s this organization that has many different types of art classes that are offered to inner-city teens. They’re very fun, and are doing some awesome work. It is very inspiring because these youths have this crazy energy that I find very inspiring. As I grow older, that quality is something I want to preserve. I am a firm believer in balance, and as I get older and more rational, I always want to have that side that is more spontaneous and down to wild out. Life would be boring for me otherwise. Major props to Asylm, The Heart Project, Stephen the workshop coordinator, and all the students at La Familia.

5) Tell us something about yourself that someone would never guess in their wildest dreams.
I like Michael McDonald and Christopher Cross. Especially when they collaborated on the song “Ride Like the Wind”.

6) Are you reading anything right now?
Tori Spelling’s new book sTori Telling.

7) Do you listen to music while creating? If so, do you have a current favorite that inspires?
I listen to music nonstop while working. I share a studio with Ekundayo and we are always searching for new music, and the rotation is constantly changing. The music that stays in the rotation most are The 13th Floor Elevators, Roky Erickson, Ween, Ghostface Killa, The Wu, Roxy Music, Bad Brains, Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Jim Carroll Band, Joe Jackson, Desmond Dekker, Om, Os Mutantes and St. Vincent when it’s time to go to sleep. Also when Dayo’s got his ipod at the studio, I always have to listen to Nastradoomus. It’s Nas’ vocals over MF Doom’s beats. It’s the shit. Also, almost everynight I gotta have my Art LaBoe Killer Oldies.

8) If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do so?
I guess somewhat figurative with a little bit of exaggeration and abstraction in certain areas. Pretty grimey. I use photo reference because I love pictures and how they capture moments. I also add things and change things due to spontaneous impulse. The content and emotion of my paintings are all across the spectrum because I like to base them on events that stand out in my mind, issues I can’t get out of my mind, or things I find intriguing or funny.

9) Favorite artist (living or dead) and what makes them special to you?
There are too many that really inspire me so I’m drawing a blank right now, but I just read an interview with Barron Storey that I thought was awesome. When I was going to Art Center I was fortunate enough to hear him speak twice, and thought it was amazing. I’m very inspired by people who are very passionate about what they do, don’t give a shit what people think, stay themselves the whole way through, and are down to kick out a little substance. This dude is prolific too, he must have brought like 80 sketchbooks for our class to check out. Thanks to Kent Williams, who is another great artist, we were able to hear him speak.

10) What have you got coming up in terms of shows and projects after this show?
I will be showing at Art Basel/Gen Art Vanguard with Thinkspace, which I am really stoked on. I will be participating in a tribute show to the Beastie Boys in January at Gallery 1988. I also have a piece featured in a book that was just released on the L.A river. The book is called The Ulysses Guide to the Los Angeles River which features the history, biology, stories, graffiti (spots, landmarks, buff marks), hobo monikers, and artwork inspired by the river. The artwork is awesome, and also features some never before seen Chaz Bajorquez stuff. Check more out on it at Otherwise I just gotta keep grinding.
11) What are you doing right after this interview?
Chillin. Surfing the web, and my girlfriend is watching the VH1 top 100 best hip hop songs of all time.

Michael Alvarez
Oct. 10th – Oct. 31st in our project room

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