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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Artist channels immigration act

    Paco Velez, an immigrant from Nogales, Sonora, grew up familiarizing himself with the U.S.-Mexico border and translates those experiences through his artwork. Velez and mentor Alfred Quiroz will be speaking about his art tonight at MOCA at 6.
    Paco Velez, an immigrant from Nogales, Sonora, grew up familiarizing himself with the U.S.-Mexico border and translates those experiences through his artwork. Velez and mentor Alfred Quiroz will be speaking about his art tonight at MOCA at 6.

    Paco Velez may be an American immigrant from Nogales, Sonora, but in the art world he’s a modern-day Renaissance man. Aside from the traditional paintings that have popularized his name, Velez has expanded his reach to the realms of poetry, performance art, sculpture, contemporary installations and, above all, artistic social commentary.

    But many of his works have an overlapping theme that is both personal and political, a theme of universal chaos and individual coping with an ever-intimidating myriad of information.

    “”Our lives in general are very chaotic,”” Velez said. “”We have constant info being fed to us. We’re watching the news and we’re listening to the news – underneath, we have banners going across with more news. How much are we able to digest that and how fast do we digest that?””

    Velez induces disorder in his paintings by splattering bright colors that dance around various cartoon characters,

    assorted objects and Spanish and English phrases. Although the placement may seem random, Velez said that everything down to the splattering of the paint is intentional.

    A resident alien, Velez also applies the theme of border issues to much of his art, expressing sympathy for those who remain in Mexico against their will. As a child he would cross the border every day to go to Catholic school on the Arizona side of Sonora. Velez later applied for a visa with the help of his aunt.

    “”When I think about being an alien, I think about a Martian or something, not a human being,”” he said, adding that the expiration date on his visa is almost like one for a machine: sterile and disassociated from humanity.

    This personal approach to border issues is what drives Velez’s live performance, a medium he has been exploring since his work this summer with renowned artist Guillermo Gomez Peña.

    In “”My Amerika,”” which Velez performs tonight, he appears in costume as a dog named Perro Espectacular (Spectacular Dog), which he says is a contradiction in terms that gives the performance a different dimension.

    “”Having that character and voicing these opinions about America puts it in a different gray area instead of taking one side of an issue,”” Velez said. “”It’s coming from this character that you can’t really take seriously, but what he’s saying you have to take seriously.””

    The spoken-word poem, which will run about 30-45 minutes, takes jabs at the American lifestyle in which Velez participates.

    “”America is made of myth, revolution, religion and satellite information,”” the poem goes. “”Her body is an explosion of heat that illuminates my humble existence. This is where I belong, sublime with her, mi Amerika.””

    Along with the performance, Velez will have an open conversation with his mentor, Alfred Quiroz, about his exhibition “”Bajo la Frontera/Under the Border.””

    The event begins tonight at 6 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 197 E. Toole Ave. It is $5 to attend and open to the public.

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