The hot boxes of 2012
Last year saw the advent of the first-ever Operation Artbox contest. Then-Arts Editor Summer Olsson and Circulation Manager Geoffrey Plant launched this remarkable project for no reason other than a shared love of things that are rad. It was a pain in the ass, I bet, digging through the submissions, establishing parameters, delivering the boxes, picking them back up and then deploying them.
The results were fantastic. Your average little blue Alibi distribution station was transformed into a thing of weird beauty available for viewing 24/7, 365 on the streets of Burque. Operation Art Box was such a success, newspapers in other parts of the country hit up Plant to ask about how it worked.
So, thankfully, he decided to mount this effort for us again. In 2012, the Alibi's adding an art show and big box reveal party to celebrate these public works. Boro Gallery is hosting a exhibition all monthlong that will feature the art of our 11 new participants, as well as this year’s box crop.
I spoke with one of the artists in anticipation of the show's First Friday opening. Once the boxes hit the streets at the end of the month, you can expect to see within them a feature about all of the excellent people who lent their talents to our humble distro cubes.
A Box Apart
Danny Skinz’ passions pose a contradiction: He has respect and concern for the environment, yet his craft demands that he paint with an aerosol can. "That's an internal battle I have to deal with."
The organic gardener and permaculture enthusiast is also a style writer (graffiti artist). Someday, he’d like to team up with someone working on natural pigments to figure out how to get them in and out of a can.
Skinz interest in style writing formed in Miami when he was a teenager. He moved to New York and drove a big-ass truck around Manhattan before becoming the art director for an urban denim company. Two years ago, he made his way to New Mexico to pursue eco-aspirations. After years in the city, his values changed, he says. "Things that were fresh and hip and exciting about New York started to not be so fresh and hip and exciting."
He jumped at the chance to makeover an Alibi distribution box because it would be deployed in the public sphere. "Plus, it's something we would bomb anyway." The box arrived, and Skinz' first thought was "Oh, shit. This is kind of small." He considered using painting markers but feared he might lose something in the translation. "Part of the awe and wow of graffiti is the scale."
So he disassembled his box and affixed the panels to the famed graffiti art wall alongside the Acme yard in the North Valley. He sprayed a large, colorful piece. He removed the panels and filled in the blank spots left behind with a black-and-white version.
Sounds simple enough. (Or maybe it doesn't.) But the real trouble was taking apart the distro box beforehand. "It was kind of a big ordeal and beyond my mechanical know-how." Upon inspection, he realized these metal cubes had been welded together, he guesses by a robot in China. Skinz had to turn to welder friends for advice. It took him four days to pull the thing apart, and he wasn't sure he would be able to put it back together again. Happily, it all worked out, and his art box stands in the shadows of the Alibi storage area, awaiting its time in the desert sun.
Skinz says he loves his new home in New Mexico. The art scene in the 505 is growing and vibrant, he says, and there's a healthy attitude toward style writing. "The city seems open to art in general."
Huge Thanks to the 2012 Artists
Joseph Paul Baca
OFFCenter Community Arts Project
Operation Art Box
Runs through Sept. 30
Opens Friday, Sept. 7, 5 p.m.
317 Gold SW
(corner of Gold and Fourth Street)
Hours: Monday through Friday, 5 to 10 p.m.