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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Local artist strives for authenticity

    Cole Malham
    Cole Malham / The Daily Wildcat Garret Staab painting his newest piece at Espresso Art Cafe on Sunday.

    Under the warm light of the university hotspot Espresso Art Café, Garrett Staab, who goes by his artistic alias Awethentic RAwesum AweNasty, or Rawe, paints bright colors onto a square shaped canvas. By his side is Samantha Smith, who sings while she strums her acoustic guitar.

    Together, the two collaborate as a type of artistic duet, sharing their work with the public on the weekends. On Thursdays, performances are held from 8 to 11 p.m. in Staab’s art gallery, which is located just above Espresso Art Café. On Fridays, the two can be found at 8 p.m. in the café, and on Sundays they perform at 1 p.m.

    Staab said his inspiration began with a dream where he painted out his future in his mind and came to the realization that he was able to make his reality into whatever he wanted it to be.

    As for the visual appeal of his art, Staab draws much of his inspiration from the curves and lines of nature.

    “Beauty is based on aesthetics and aesthetics are based on nature,” Staab said.

    Staab said he looks to incorporate natural shapes and lineage in his work to veer from the typical jags and lines that are seen in the streets of a cityscape. His work is colorful and vibrant, drawing from influences provided by his own personal research and interest in metaphysics, spiritual understandings, animals and anthropomorphic beings. He said he focuses on the way that a brushstroke makes him feel, rather than the way it looks on the canvas.

    “It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t turn out how I want it to as long as I commit to the bit,” Staab said. “It could be a beautiful mistake, as cliché as it sounds.”

    Noting the artistic influences in his life, Staab said he learned from a mentor in Los Angeles named Vishwakarma. Additionally, Staab studied at the Art Institute of Tucson, but dropped out after realizing that his own personal take on art didn’t match the teachings that the institute had to share.

    While Staab can typically be found holding a palette of vivid colors before a blank canvas, he said one of his favorite mediums is in tattooing.

    “It’s the most interesting and in-depth study of the human anatomy to be able to put art that’s permanent onto somebody’s body,” Staab said. “This type of art means a lot to somebody and it really makes you think about what you’re doing, as opposed to just winging it. Being able to tattoo somebody else’s anatomy gives me a very good understanding about the way things should look or the way things should feel, which translates into my painting.”

    Staab was contracted to the gallery located above Espresso Art Café, as courtesy of the Marshall Foundation, for August and September.

    Arturo Valenzuela, the Marshall Foundation’s Ambassador for the Arts, selects artists, both locally and abroad, to fill the space for a given amount of time.

    “His work is amazing,” Valenzuela said of Staab. “We’re very proud to have him there.”

    Staab knows how lucky he’s been to have had the space for the past two months.

    “This is such a nice place. There are so many opportunities for people to learn and be exposed,” Staab said. He added that he’s looking forward to meeting the next artist who will take his spot in the gallery above the café when the month is over.

    Smith describes Staab’s work as something that goes through a type of evolution as it’s painted and viewed by different people.

    “It’s a transformative process,” Smith said, “where he starts with something as basic as a line drawing and eventually adds textures. Sometimes you look at it from one perspective, and sometimes an image comes up that you’ve never expected or seen before.”

    When Staab moves out of his gallery at the end of the month, his work will be moved into Espresso Art Café and be displayed throughout November.

    “When I give away my work, I give away a piece of myself,” Staab said. “The reward is in giving.”

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