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10 months ago

Java.Sept.2017-1

Crossing the Threshold

Crossing the Threshold At the school, Gonzales further improved upon his figurative foundation. “They say once you learn all the rules, you have to learn how to break them. I still have a love for figurative art. I think personally, I didn’t have much to say with it,” Gonzales said. While at Laguna, he met fellow artist and student Richard Salcido. Gonzales and Salcido would have competitions with each other. They would work with several different subjects and try and stretch the boundaries of what they could paint. One time, Salcido challenged Gonzales to paint birds. “The birds started stylistic,” Gonzales said. “It was more about how I was handling the paint. As time went on, they became more descriptive. I have always liked things that were of the curious nature. Eventually I started having a great time with it. I started getting more books on birds. I never thought that my work would become tight. Eventually it comes down to trying to find your own voice. That’s the idea of an artist, trying to find your own language.” So, Gonzales somehow became the bird artist. He jokes that people have teased him about it. But birds were something that inspired him. Maybe it’s because birds inhabit the Joseph Campbell story. They are constantly leaving and returning. They are constantly on a homecoming tour. During Gonzales’ senior year, he got a job working at the Finger Hut as the gallery assistant. While working there, some of the staff let him hang his art on the wall anonymously. They would create a pseudo artist bio and come up with names for his pieces. Eventually some of his stuff sold, and he would anonymously hang the pieces in the buyers’ homes. In some ways, this helped give Gonzales a lot of 10 JAVA MAGAZINE

confidence to step out more as an artist. Right before graduating, Gonzales was able to show at a gallery. After graduating from college, Gonzales moved to New York with his girlfriend. Living in New York was sort of a dream come true for such an ardent hip-hop fan and artist in general. While living there, he got married. He was producing art full time, and life was good for the most part. Unfortunately, things didn’t stay in blissful stasis. The relationship between him and his partner devolved, and he ended up having to get a divorce. “Getting divorced really played a huge role in my life,” said Gonzales. “I started to just paint. It was this whole self-revolution, an unfortunate event that sparked an evolution in my work. Tragedy often breeds some type of creativity. It was great— you chop a tree down and all these sprouts come out. I got to experience life alone living in New York. It was intimidating but it was still exciting,” Gonzales said. Fortunately for Gonzales, he was able to reconnect with an old flame from junior high. After a long distance courtship, they eventually decided to try out a relationship again, and he moved back to Arizona, where his story began. speaks to me for whatever reason and will try to fit it into the composition,” said Gonzales. “My work takes different elements from nature and puts them together to see what happens,” Gonzales said. “It’s a lot of play. I like to play with elements that don’t necessarily thrive together in real life. It’s like an artificial realism. There’s this element of design and a mixture of realism, along with graphic elements as well. It’s a contemporary approach to an age-old subject matter. I’m just trying to present it in a new way. If you strip it down, these could be scientific illustrations, but I try to make it believable on the surface.” Eventually Gonzales got a job as a preparator at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum. Now he does art when he can, which sometimes means waking up at five in the morning to paint. Recently he’s done murals at Starbucks throughout the city and shows in the annual Chaos Theory exhibition. He has exhibited throughout the West Coast and in Santa Fe. He has a kid with his partner and has a studio in his mother’s backyard. The hero has returned, and he’s happy. The Hero Returns After spending 12 years away from Arizona, Gonzales returned to his origins. “Moving back to Arizona, I fell in love with the desert again. I collect a lot of cactuses. I love to see them in people’s yards. I’ll use them for inspiration to start a drawing on panel with those elements. I’ll look for a reference and find a bird that JAVA 11 MAGAZINE

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