In celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day, my boyfriend and I ventured out to Santa Ana this past Saturday to submerge ourselves in great Mexican art, food, culture, and festivities. It was late afternoon when we arrived to the grand fiesta being held on Fourth Street, Santa Ana, and we rapidly searched for any signs of art to be found. As a Los Angeles native, the scene of Santa Ana and Orange County are still a bit foreign to me. As we kept walking towards Main Street, we were bombarded with a heavy collection of 50% off perfume flyers, and as we walked pass quinceñera gown stores, I was greeted by a sea of señoras offering me to make an amazing wedding dress, or quinceñera dress, which I am neither young enough nor old enough to need. Anyway, as we reached the end of the block, a sign propped on a pole indicating that we had reached Santa Ana’s Artists Village welcomed us. Yay!
After finally arriving on Second Street, we came upon Cal State Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center, cool, and little did I know that it was located in this center. As we walked into the building, I enjoyed all the wonderful art that was displayed. The installations were amazing, something new to add to my palate of art feeding, and the paintings made me feel so tranquil, that is until I walked up to the receptionist to ask her some questions, and it was as if I had disturbed her from a deep slumber, as I had inconvenienced her. As the not so nice, very unwelcoming, and pretentious receptionist bluntly mumbled the answers to my questions, I kindly thanked her, and just picked up a few flyers and headed out the door.
While walking down Main Street, my boyfriend and I popped into the Santora Arts building, and stumbled upon GCS Clothing store, neat! GCS has street wear apparel, art supplies, cute Kid Robot toys, and a great space where they hold gallery openings, super cool! As I gazed at all the cool art pieces on their wall, a super nice associate asked me if I needed any help, and that’s when I asked him about the work of art that’s displayed on his wall. He explained that various artists created them, but that they would be having an art gallery opening in an hour. Score!
We walked back to Fourth Street and enjoyed watching a couple of performers while ravaging on some strawberry funnel cake, horchata, sopes, and nachos. Very scrumptious, I might add! It was finally time to head back to the art gallery. It was my first time walking into GCS Clothing, so I was anxious to see the cool art exhibit.
As we finally arrived back at GCS Clothing, we walked inside and stepped into the Viva Los Villains art exhibit. The DJ was blasting some great tunes by Daft Punk, and free beer and wine was served in the back of the gallery. My boyfriend and I split while in the gallery, and I rummaged through the brilliant and vivid art that is currently exhibited and for sale in the small and intimate gallery space. After a few rounds of repeatedly viewing all the pieces, I had observed an on-looker speaking to a young man about the art, and I figured he knew who the artist was. I asked the on-looker about the artist, and he kindly pointed him out for me. After waiting minutes for the artist to not seem so occupied, because I didn’t want to be so rude, I approached him for a quick interview, and he kindly agreed. This is an excerpt from the interview I conducted with Chris Gonzalez, a freelance artist:
V.Espitia: Where did you get your inspiration from?
Chris: I got my inspiration from cartoons that I lived through, um, when I was a kid like in the early nineties, eighties. that’s where I got the collection for all my characters. and my inspiration from my father, he was an artist himself- he taught me a little bit here and there. from there I got self- taught, and I learned how to paint by messing around with paints- figuring out what works and what doesn’t work.
V.Espitia: So you’ve been doing this all your life?
Chris: All my life since a little kid, since elementary.
V.Espitia: That’s crazy, yeah. Your work is really good.
Chris: Thank you, Thank you.
V. Espitia: Do you relate yourself with the Chicano art and artist?
Chris: Chicano art, I’ve done a lot of Dia de los Muertos style paintings, you know, and I do try to get in touch with my father’s side of the family and to show that I do know that I do know a lot of culture within that side of the roof, so I have. I like to bounce around and just keep it neutral.
V.Espitia: What artists are most influential to you?
Chris: Most artists are probably in design right now. ‘Cause right now I’m a commercial artist, I work for a company called (unrecognizable) collectables, so I’m really into designing, uh, accessories, or jewelry even, so the painting thing is mostly a side thing I usually work on, but mostly I’m into designing products and stuff like that, that’s like my baby right now- I’m really into my job right now.
V.Espitia: Oh, that’s really good.
Chris: Right now, I’m actually doing western designing right now, I’m working for Tony Lama and Justin, probably the two biggest brands in western, so I’m doing belt designs right now.
V.Espitia: Where do you see yourself going with your art?
Chris: With my art right now, I’m not really too sure, I’m trying to push it let’s see where I go from here ‘cause I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I haven’t been showing my art to people like I’ve just been doing like side jobs, and doing work for certain people, but I never got a collection and showed everybody before- very few shows. So it’s yet for me to know where I’m going to go from here.
V.Espitia: Your work is really good-you should keep doing it!
Chris: Thank you, Thank you.
Overall, searching for new and wonderful art to ingest was fun, but it was a quite hectic as well. I would just like to thank Chris Gonzalez for allowing me to quickly interview him on his big night, and and I’m intrigued and glad to have encountered these wonderful gems of art in the O.C.