Alibi V.20 No.24 • June 16-22, 2011 

Gallery Review

Taco and a Haircut, Two Bits

Fades are out, Rough Edges are in

Perez’ work, close-up
Perez’ work, close-up
Chiquita Paschal

I’m wracking my brain to find the least obscene way to express a connection between hair and tacos.

This month's tasty (and tasteful) exhibition at Ace Barbershop, Rough Edges, features the beefy, cheesy works of Gabriel Luis Perez. The taco and cheeseburger art—or more precisely, painted collages of beef, lettuce and tortilla colors—has inspired fresh gab topics in the tiny Downtown shop.

There are myriad ways to read these richly textured Rorschach tacos. Shards of scattered colors and fragmented angular shapes distort the subjects. The color palette and compositions are complex up close, but like a Mexican Chuck Close, Perez makes magical tacos appear when one stands at a distance. The artist thoroughly deconstructed his subjects; first physically as he surveyed the local taco scene, and then visually as he reinterpreted his findings on canvas. The less inspiring meals never made it past the sketch pad, Perez says.

Perez says he wants to cross boundaries into new places never before encountered, creating “international and spaceless” art that can be appreciated universally by audiences, regardless of culture.

When curious viewers ask for hints, he glibly declines. “Some people lose interest after they find out it's just food,” says Perez. On the other hand, he sold a piece on the premise that a taco painting “would look great in the kitchen.” As an artist, he works psycho-geographically, meaning he only creates from inspiration in his immediate environment. Local burger and taco joints such as Owl Café, El Patio, Nob Hill Bar and Grill, Garcia's, and Monroe's have been immortalized in this series.

Look at art while you get clipped.
Look at art while you get clipped.
Chiquita Paschal

The Las Cruces native started out as a flexible guy with a penchant for art. His family moved to Austin where he got a taste for doing graffiti and DJing. He was recruited by an avant-garde circus, under the condition that he cultivate his limberness to perform physically with them in addition to providing his musical stylings. Perez got to tour America while stuffed in a circus bus. He now performs around Albuquerque with his wife as the clown duet Ho Punch.

Toeing the tightrope between academia and culture, Perez is studying art at UNM, hoping to merge theory with street wisdom and book bigger shows. His aesthetic philosophy is “make it pretty.” At the end of the day, he says, whether it’s a graffiti tag or a canvas in a gallery, people enjoy how paintings make them see—where they move their eyes, how the colors feel and the emotions that these formal qualities evoke. Perez says he wants to cross boundaries into new places never before encountered, creating “international and spaceless” art that can be appreciated universally by audiences, regardless of culture. At the least at Ace, Perez says “I'm guaranteed a captive audience.”

Rough Edges
Runs through July 1
Mondays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tuesdays through Fridays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ace Barbershop
109 Fourth Street SW
242-7735, acebarbershop505.com