Sometimes, the stars align and things just fall into place. That’s kind of how it’s been for Los Visionaries, the mixed-media art collective that’s been building up in the El Paso underground. Co-founders Victor Soto (or VS as in versus) and Edgar “Venus” Lopez met while working the restaurant circuit.
That familiar juncture in youth that calls for exploration and discovery compelled the 2 to break away in 2013 and backpack through Mexico. “We didn’t really plan everything out, we just went,” began Lopez, “We ended up in DF (Mexico) to check out the pyramids of Teotihuacan, and on top of those pyramids is where we got the inspiration to create a collective.” After 3 months spent trekking as far south as Veracruz, the 2 returned to Sun City galvanized to promote unity and positivity through their shared love of art.
Nearly 4 years and 9 members later, Los Visionaries has grown into a realized creative force that’s making an indelible mark on the local art scene. Artists Diego “Robot” Martinez, Joey Delgado, Erica Terrazas, Ricardo “Enks” Uribe, Nik Flores aka “Nik Res”, Johnathan Duarte, Gabriel “Goober” Najera, David G. Mist and RITUVLS (pronounced ‘rituals’) join Soto and Lopez in forming the collective. Together, they combine street art, graphic design, film, music, dance and poetry among other modalities in a seamless and innovative amalgamation. This diverse group came together over time much in the same way that friends do. Together, Los Visionaries are showing the community just how resonant, impactful and unifying art can be.
Back in March, Los Visionaries presented “Warped Perceptions”—a multi-media exhibit at the Power at the Pass featuring their collective and individual works. They also just hosted “Warped Reflections”—a thoughtful closing reception at the same venue over Thanksgiving weekend.
Complete with collaborations with local acts including Orange Anima and Space Captain Collective, and an awesome dance performance courtesy of the Sun City Floor Rockers, the event was a hit defined by stellar optics, interdisciplinary art and El Paso pride. “It was the perfect way to close out the year, and people [couldn’t] get enough of it! We received mad love from the community,” Soto beamed. Los Visionaries thanks everyone who came out to support and is planning to continue the momentum into 2018. Look out for more exhibits, installations and creativity from this crew in the near future.
As Soto coined it, the Los Visionaries aesthetic is their own unique brand of “Neo-Chicano street art.” Chicano iconography, world mythology and familiar symbols of borderland life—the mountains, the river—are common motifs throughout the collective’s creations. The artists juxtapose original characters and modern techniques against universal themes and cultural reverence, paying homage to the past with a forward-thinking proclivity.
“We try to represent the region and the frontera,” said Soto. Part of that representation is being conscious of the duality that defines borderland culture: “It’s just 2 different perspectives; merging those 2 lifestyles is what I think the Chicano culture is about and that definitely shows up in our art pieces,” said Lopez.
A prime example is Los Visionaries’ “Ev of Rev” installation, which is located between the Chihuahuas Stadium and the Convention Center. In just 2 days, Los Visionaries covered a 220-foot long wall in a striking and dynamic mural that tells, as the title suggests, of the evolution within the borderland culture. Soto explained, “It’s not forgetting where we came from . . . it forces is us to go deeper into our own history.”
The piece also speaks to their collective development as artists. “It’s become what it is today, on its own—the love is still there and the message of promoting light is still there, but it’s refined,” said Lopez. As for tomorrow, Los Visionaries hopes to expand, crossing cultural, artistic and contextual borders. Soto explained, “Let’s unify El Paso, and [connect] these sister cities through art. Just show love to everyone, music-wise, art-wise, just anything creative.” He added, “¡Mucho amor y paz a nuestra gente de la frontera!”