Ricardo Chavarria was born in El Paso and raised in Anthony, NM. His first memory of art was visual graffiti, and in high school he would sketch graffiti work on paper. After working as a sound engineer for 10 years with various musicians in NYC, he moved back to Anthony and began focusing exclusively on painting. In 2006 and 2007 he participated in Howl Festival in NYC. His work is currently displayed at the Sotoa Building in Downtown El Paso.
Ricardo is one of the featured artists that will be live painting at Neon Desert Music Festival 2015 taking place Memorial Day weekend in El Paso, TX. It’s his first time participating at the 3 day fest. Ricardo took time out of his day to answer a few questions for us.
How did you first become involved in creating art?
In high school mostly sketching graffiti type work on paper. I did attempt to create work on walls but quickly realized I was not very good with spray paint. Before 2009 I had not considered a career as a painter at all. I had made a living working with musicians in NYC for 10 years as a sound engineer. In 2009 I moved back to Anthony and began focusing exclusively on painting.
How did you first become involved in street art, mural art, painting, etc.? Are there any other forms of art that you create?
In 2006 I had the opportunity of participating in the Howl Festival in NYC which honors the poet Allen Ginsberg. The festival sets up a large canvas around Tompkins Square Park for artists to paint, I participated in 2006,2007. I also had the good fortune to paint along side one of my favorite living painters Alex Grey at an event to celebrate his birthday in his gallery. Painting is my main focus but I’m also playing music with a project called thesandyohms. We will be recording and playing shows here in El Paso this summer.
What was the art scene like when you first became involved in street, mural, painting, or any other form of art?
Music scenes where the only scenes I experienced growing up. Both the rock scene and the rave scene were great in El Paso. Very small scale compared to what is going on now. Neon Desert seems to bring together the culmination of both those scenes and now Hip Hop as well. In the mid 90s music scenes did not interconnect at all.
Who were some of the artists you admired during that time? Why?
I did love seeing At The Drive In progress to being a huge band internationally. The first time i caught them was at a place in downtown El Paso called The Golden Age Center.
From what I remember not many people where there and I think they all came on wearing business type suites and ended the show in their underwear. I have always been amazed and inspired by all those guys. I’m looking forward to seeing ANTEMASQUE at NDFM 2015.
How has art culture changed from when you first started until present day, today?
It is much bigger now. Visual art and music are both reaching vastly larger audiences. I hope it continues to grow.
Tell me a little about the art you create? What influences it? What inspires you?
My process was inspired by Tibetan Buddhist monks with their creations of mandalas. My idea was to replicate the process of a sand painting using paint. I began using plastic syringes to control the flow of the paint onto the canvas. I work with a grid system drawn on the canvas. I do work with the canvas laying flat either on the floor or a table. Astronomy is a major inspiration in my work.
When did you realize you were good at it? When did you start taking it seriously?
Six years ago I made my first painting using the technique I have since developed. I started showing friends and family this small painting and to my surprise the responses where very positive and encouraging. The forth painting I made was purchased by a friend in El Paso. It was the first painting I had ever sold. Since then I have focused exclusively on painting.
How or what has been your contribution to the art scene? What are you most proud of?
I have worked with the Museum and Cultural Affairs Department of El Paso on various projects. I was very proud to have a solo exhibition at The El Paso Museum of Art last year. Currently I have an exhibition in Juarez at a gallery called Juarez Contemporary.
Tell me a little about some of the major projects you have led or been a part of?
The largest painting I have created measures 6.5 feet by 24 feet. I worked on this painting for a year and a half. It now hangs permanently in downtown El Paso in the lobby of the Sotoa building 500 W Overland.
Are there any projects you are currently working on?
A major project that I am currently working on is building a studio that will be in Anthony NM. I have been renting studio spaces and moving around the past 6 years. This new space will allow me to work on multiple paintings at a time and on much larger paintings.
What can we expect at NDMF?
I will be showing a large finished painting that will be activated with LED lighting. Next to the finished painting, I will be working on a smaller piece that I intend to finish in the 3 days of the festival.
Text: Alex Durán