On quite a few Saturdays ago I went to my first art opening in the South of A Street district, in Santa Rosa, known as SOFA. It is a vibrant community of artist’s, their studios, vintage clothing stores, a photography store, a bakery, a morning breakfast spot and salons and spas. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Salazar that evening.
Alejandro Salazar was in an exhibition titled ‘10×10’, a series of works by SOFA artists in a 10 inch by 10 inch format. I was immediately attracted to his vibrant collage work, printed on vinyl that looked a little like Mexican oilcloth. I was broke and knew I had to have two of the several pieces he was showing. I found Mr. Salazar and asked him about his work. I met a very nice gentleman.
Mr. Salazar informed me that I could purchase those pieces at any time, whenever I could afford them, and he and I exchanged email addresses and I longingly looked at them several times throughout the evening. I wondered if I would ever really purchase them.
I let a couple of months pass by and then contacted Alejandro, by email. I could ‘afford’ the pieces and I had finally worked out the kinks in my attempts to create a blog and wanted both of the art pieces and now an interview with the artist. He considered the interview, read my blog and agreed to both requests.
My wish for both came true today, I purchased my pieces (actually upgraded to two framed glicee prints) and sat in his office/studio for a wonderful interview that really became one of the best conversations I have had in a very long time.
Mr. Salazar has a story, so let’s begin with his name.
Alejandro Salazar is a Mexican man. He came to the United States, San Francisco to be exact, to study on scholarship for three intensive months. He would become an Adobe master. He had completed his studies at the University of Colima in Colima, Mexico and had worked as the creative director for a major multi-media company in Mexico. He decided to try his hand at the credentialed program in San Francisco, but rather than take the classes, he took the exam immediately, passed with flying colors and proceeded to hang out in San Francisco and Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is now proud to have Mr. Salazar as one of it’s esteemed citizens.
All of that being said, it is difficult to separate the art from the man, his art is vibrant, whimsical, serious and joyful. It is in one word, surreal.
His studio is a double room affair, some of his early work is housed in the adjacent room and it is there that you see how his process emerged.
As Alejandro tells the story, he loved to draw at a very young age, and thought he would translate those drawings into paintings. He tried painting in every conceivable way, but just hit road blocks, one of them being that he just didn’t like to clean the brushes. Well, necessity is the mother of invention, and with his computer skills, Alejandro began trying to do large tiled pieces of artwork on the computer; meaning he would paint a piece, incorporate his computer skills and in order to make a large format print, he would section it into a grid, print that and form a large tiled canvas. He didn’t like it.
Finally, he began to use his Photoshop and Adobe illustrator skills and began to make collage. He hit the goldmine, because they are absolutely perfect in design, color, and execution. And then, the most magical part, what they personally illicit from you, the observer.
Personally, they brought me into another world. A world where I could make up a story about the characters in this pictorial play on canvas. The large orange, the acrobatic swinging monks, the swollen dunes, the beautiful woman, the sunburst, and one of my favorite icons, the jellyfish all are perfectly placed in their unconventional landscapes to tell a story known only to you and Mr. Salazar.
My interpretations are probably nothing like Alejandro’s and that, to me is the beauty of art. What I see and what you see are two entirely different reactions, responses and in this case, stories. Who knows what Alejandro is specifically conveying with each symbolic picture layered on a background or another iconic image.
In our conversations, he tells me how he feels about art. Beauty and aesthetics are important to him, it inspires him. He believes art is personal, it is how you feel about things in life; life’s beauty. Frustrations? Most of the time it is not he who is frustrated, but he cares for those in the midst of a problem. He may have a need to portray a symbolic moment, his, or if you are in his circle of friends, maybe yours. He believes in karma and justice, as he says, and I paraphrase, ‘life slaps people, life asks questions that we don’t know how to answer.’ That phrase, somewhat explains his work, but not completely. Life’s wonders would be another way of looking at Mr. Salazar’s work.
Alejandro is very proud to be a Mexican man, he loves his family deeply and has great reverence for both his mother and father. His mother is most like him in her sensitivity and approach to life. He says he has her spirit and curiosity. His father is an educated man, who loves art and the opera and embraces life and everyone in his life. Alejandro is also like his father. He says of his father, “He embraces beauty and I do,too”.
Mr. Salazar has also dabbled in commercial art. He designs commercial art for the Latino community; packaging, business identities and restaurant identities. He is adept at the complete process; comfortable in design and print management.
He is being recognized in the design world by a company, orangepiel. This company does beautiful, custom printed window shades, among other things. You have to visit the site to fully appreciate the possibilities, and Mr. Salazar’s designs have graced an iphone cover as well as window and wall decals. orangepiel features several artists, and a beautiful representation of Alejandro Salazar’s work is on display for viewing and for choosing a variety of applications that showcase his work.
He loves Magritte and Miro; music to my ears. He is a collector of imagery, using vintage magazine clips and his own stock photography.
Alejandro can go days, he says, speaking only Spanish, and so he is comfortable living here and visits his home and family in Mexico. He has a vibrant social and professional scene in Santa Rosa, and his artwork reflects many cultures.
Alejandro is new, as he put it, in the art scene and he is anxious to see where things will go, but he is not concerned, just has a wonderful curiosity about his art and life and that is so reflected in his work. He wonders who will see it, how his art will make them feel and he says, “as long as I have someone who likes it and I can make them happy. I like that”. Alejandro says money does not define him, his art does. The challenge for humans, he believes, is to be happy with what one has, he says he would love to have money to help those he loves. Pure and simple. Another wonderful sentiment shared was to “evolve and figure out what will make you the most content”. He says he loves trying to figure life out and loves to ask questions that he does not know the answers to. I felt all of these sentiments immediately when I saw his work, I felt curious, and good and I was in ‘aesthetic’ nirvana.
Alejandro is kind enough to share some of his favorite artists with us, he provided these links to artist that both influence him and whose work he admires.
My interview with Mr. Salazar became more of a discussion, a lively one at that, and less of an interview. We spoke about racism and cultures,we spoke of our love for our families, we spoke about basic philosophies of good and bad, fairness and equality; in general a very humanist meeting of the minds. I came away liking the artist as much as his art and felt very privileged to have spent the afternoon with him, surrounded by his art, in his studio. Nice to meet you, Mr. Salazar.
You can find Alejandro Salazar at 461 Sebastopol Avenue, Santa Rosa, California in Mario Uribe Galleries.