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Java.May.2017

Tato Caraveo Street

Tato Caraveo Street Surrealism By Jack Cavanaugh • Photos By Charles Darr 8 JAVA MAGAZINE

When I pull into a parking lot adjacent to the Crescent Highland apartment complex still under construction on 16th Street, a massive mural catches my eye immediately. A serene-faced woman emerges from floating blossoms, delicately holding a yellow birdhouse. Her shocking red hair shoots back in nearly symmetrical streams over her head into a blue-sky backdrop, and hummingbirds and butterflies surround her. After a long stare, I walk around the parking garage, still full of construction materials, and find artist Tato Caraveo inside what will be the leasing office, climbing down from a scaffold. He has just completed his third mural on the wall above the doors, featuring the same mysterious woman. I’m among the first to see the mural in its completed form, and the room is still full of paint fumes. While many of Caraveo’s murals throughout downtown Phoenix are otherworldly, the colors he used for the Crescent Highland complex are brighter, and the sheer size of the largest piece commands the attention of unsuspecting drivers heading north on 16th Street. Several of Caraveo’s pieces can be found along the walls of Roosevelt Row and the surrounding area, but many others are hidden gems that must be stumbled upon. A nondescript alley in the Coronado neighborhood, for example, bears a piece that features jazz musicians with dramatically long limbs and smoky expressions playing instruments. Caraveo is done for the day, and is about to run home and change in just enough time to arrive at the Nash, where he and Rafael Navarro are having a gallery opening ahead of First Friday, exhibiting a small collection of music-themed pieces curated by Laura Dragon of {9} Gallery and Kate Hastings. Among Caraveo’s pieces are a portrait of Eric Dolphy, an intricately carved cello converted into a lamp, and what appears to be a selfportrait, entitled “Bass Player.” “I didn’t want to title it ‘Self-Portrait.’ No one wants to buy a self-portrait,” says Caraveo. For as long as he has been a visual artist, Caraveo’s been a musician as well, bouncing back and forth between the two forms of expression. “I have been juggling both since I was 14 or 15. I guess music came first. I was already playing shows when I was 15. I was in my first band, then that broke up. I hit the streets and picked up the habit of graffiti art.” Years later, Caraveo took to the stage again and toured as the bass player for the Hypno-Twists, a psychedelic garage/surf rock band that released an album back in 2001. “We toured all over the West Coast, went to London and did a Dirty Water Records show. The Darts were on that London label and a few other local JAVA 9 MAGAZINE

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