Luchadores & Decorative Trim
SUMMER 2015: After a long, hot day in the studio, a trip to the grocery store brought me face-to-face with a long-time friend I hadn't seen in 15 years: Danny Basone, owner of the wildly successful Lockview Restaurant in downtown Akron, Ohio. Fresh off the plane from LA, he told me he had been researching street-taco joints for his new venture, El Gato Taqueria, which was in the beginning phases. After a bit of a pause, (I could see the wheels turning in his head), and with a twinkle in his eye, he asked me if I "still did art...?" Why, yes, YES I DO!
That was the beginning of a fun-filled, furiously creative and warp-speed busy year. Outlining the restaurant's theme of Authentic Mexican Street Tacos + Luchadores + Sci-Fi (vintage shows & movies play on TV's) + Surf Music, he gave me one directive: "Go WILD!" Aye Carumba! I had my work cut-out for me, as I was then in the middle of a double move, (studio & residence).
I began by doing research... lots & lots of it, scouring the internet and library for all things related to the theme, especially Luchadores, as this was an area unfamiliar to me. I wanted to create an atmosphere that was "over-the-top-more-is-more," without being gaudy or cheap-looking, to compliment the simplicity of the food. Refraining from using Day of the Dead imagery was also important, because it's used everywhere, and we wanted to create a one-of-a-kind experience for the patrons. Throughout this entire project it was absolutely necessary for me to honor traditional, as well as contemporary, Mexican artistic style, whether that be a piece of vintage folk art, or an urban street art mural. Borrowing freely from the many beautiful examples I encountered in my research, I worked hard to maintain the works' original integrity, while tweaking it enough to make it my own.
I started with the Flying Luchadores and Decorative Trim, working on them simultaneously while packing and moving to my new studio. The chandelier was a piece I acquired while on a house-painting gig, and I was able to spray it in my empty former studio before returning the key... perfect timing! The process of making the Decorative Trim was one of my favorite parts of the whole project: labor-intensive in a meditative way, fabric-like in it's decoration. I plan to incorporate more of this look in a future piece.
The Restroom Luchadores were made at the request of Danny, who took a liking to the comical figures found throughout the Decorative Trim. They never fail to bring a smile to customers' faces, and provide a great selfie-op!