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El Paso Times - Interview

Posted on by Zeke Peña

I was honored to be included in a short series of stories Kaycee Dougherty from MCAD in El Paso is writing about the arts on the border. She writes very well and does great work to support the arts in our city. Below is the story in it's entirety. 

2 who count: Very different approaches to multimedia art

By Kaycee Dougherty / Special to the Times

Today's story focuses on two El Paso artists with very different stories and approaches.

Christine Foerster

Foerster is a Southern California native who has sojourned in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil and Peru. She credits these experiences in equal measure with her formal arts education at the University of California, San Diego.

Foerster is a part-time lecturer in UTEP's art department. She is working on a community art performance, "Goatwalking," which is funded through city Museums and Cultural Affairs Department's Artist Incubator Program. The first exhibition of "Goatwalking" will be June 11-Aug. 4 at the El Paso Museum of Art as part of the museum's Artist on Art series.

Foerster's art defies traditional classification. She is a multimedia artist to the fullest extent, working in textiles, performance, sculptural installation and drawing. She explains the focus of her work as "the creation of textile-based, modular and mobile structures that reshape the dynamics and possibilities of exchange within a given space."

"In the best-case scenario," she reasons, "this hybrid approach makes it possible for a diverse audience to engage with a public art work in vitally unexpected terms."

She experiments with principles outside of the traditional canon of art and often makes unexpected use of permaculture and animal husbandry to create what she has coined as "wearable shelter performances."

Foerster appreciates the liberties that come with having time in the studio to learn about and work on whatever it is that interests her. Additionally, her role as educator is a great source of inspiration and influence on her practice because she believes "we live in a time in which intellectual engagement is a requirement for a practicing artist, and the academic world is an excellent fit."

As a seasoned artist and educator, Foerster advises artists who are just starting out to live simply: "Strip away the excesses in your life, particularly material items and expenses that don't feed your work, so that you can dedicate yourself to your work and not need an all-consuming job that will distract you from what really matters.

"If you can't do that, you might want to consider a different career path."

Zeque Peña

Peña is a multimedia artist from the Sun City and the director and curator of the artist collective known as Maintain.

His artwork is colorful and contemporary in style, yet fused with antiquated subject matter that includes imagery from the indigenous peoples of the Americas. His choice of media is equally assorted: oils, gouache, pencils, aerosol and digital media. Peña says he "portrays individuals in ritual, disguise and transcendence. I think of my images as anthropology written by a magical realist."

He borrows a description from a friend, calling his approach "a distortion of reality to create a more apparent truth."

Peña is experimenting with oil paints by creating large-scale works on hand-carved wood panels. He also is finishing a multimedia comic novel with fellow artist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, guitarist for the bands At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta and Bosnian Rainbows.

When asked about his motivation in joining an artist collective, Peña responded frankly: "Because there is power in numbers and even greater power when those gathered are like-minded."

Peña joined Maintain shortly after its 2007 formation by Ramon Cardenas and Miguel Ibarra. Before long, the group decided to expand to include other artists. The El Paso collective includes 14 artists, but Maintain's reach extends from San Diego to Brooklyn.

Peña says Maintain is fluid and consists of anyone who chooses to contribute and collaborate. He believes this inclusive approach reflects the El Paso way of working with the community. Asked about his outlook and motivation to be an artist, he quoted German philosopher Herbert Marcuse: "Art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness of the men and women who can."

Peña's art can be seen at zpvisual.com. Maintain will take part in the third Neon Desert Music Festival on May 25 in Downtown El Paso. Its work is online at main-tain.com.

La Elder Aguila

Posted on by Zeke Peña

This illustration is a salvaged pen and ink drawing. I was going to use the image for a mural and decided on using another image. I came across the scan of the drawing and decided to see what I could do in Photoshop with it. The color is all digital, using my Cintiq tablet. I'm starting to get the hang of using different brush sets and the tablet shortcut buttons to speed things up. I've included a few process shots here showing the different stages of color. I've been using this technique lately because it is a nice hybrid of using hand-drawn techniques and the efficiency of digital tools. It also helps loosen up the often rigid feel of all digital illustrations. I'm going to use this technique when I color the full-length comic I'm working on right now. I'm using these older illustrations for practice.

Sun Bloodlet

Posted on by Zeke Peña

This piece has had a long journey. It's been unfinished for about 5 years. Original it was an experiment with gouache paints on wooden panel. The idea came from a sketch and a photo. It's about sacrifice, bloodletting as a metaphor for what we give back to this earth, and animals as our mediums to the otherworld. The crow has always paid me visit. Here the crow takes this offering to the spirit world. I used my Cintiq tablet to digital touch up the painting and add a background. I decided to change the composition by cropping it and added some luminosity with Photoshop. It's not the ideal way to finish this painting, but it's efficient.  

Sketch Scroll II

Posted on by Zeke Peña

This first sketch is gonna be my next painting. It's the initial idea that came to me in meditation. I'll eventually do a more detailed sketch from a source photo then shoot the final source photo. Sketch, color map, and then paint it. The other sketches here are rough ideas that haven't quite matured yet. I'm interested to see what comes of them. The second one was also a vision in a meditation about medicinal knowledge and the detrimental state of indigenous people. I intend to explore the connection between the instincts to seek vision and knowledge through herbal medicine rituals and the transmutation to alcoholism and addiction. 

Eureka the Butcher - Cover Art

Posted on by Zeke Peña

Full disclosure: All Eureka the Butcher covers on my homepage are fake! It is real cover art, but for albums that have never been released. So the art just sits, lonely, on a hardrive on my studio desk. But...This morning we finally completed production on the first solo album to actually be pressed! The cover art is a digital illustration using a pencil drawing on panel.  I wanted to paint the cover but the turn around was ridiculous. So I had to use technology, but it's still pseudo "hand-crafted". This album is amazing. Written, performed, recorded, and mixed by Eureka the Butcher aka Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez. Your ears and booties are gonna pop. I'll be posting some process shots and images of the cover once the album is released. Sign-up for the newsletter to stay tuned. The album will be put out on Rodriguez Lopez Productions / Sargent House and distributed digitally by Alpha Pup. It's been a long time coming and I'm stoked.  I also shot a quick and dirty video promo for the Eureka the Butcher + Sadah Luna Mini Tour. 

More Info: Eureka The Butcher

Promo Video: Sargent House YouTube