Black Friday will burst with color when the Popocalypse pop art show takes over Toma Gallery and Studios this weekend.
Artists featured include Chuco Chamuco, Juan Ornelas, Blanca Estrada, Illaramendi Graphic Arts, Carolina “Kako” Villarreal, Santiago Covarrubias, Jose Reyes, Dead Punk, Cushi Cushi 915, Steve Salazar and Jimmy Alonzo.
The organizers saw opportunities in the time and place.
“Colleague artist and friend Gabriel C. Rodriguez, aka Chuco Chamuco, came up with the idea of hosting a pop-art themed event featuring local artists,” Ornelas said via Instagram. “We decided to name the show Popocalypse to symbolize the rebirth of pop art in Borderland. We both thought the Black Friday weekend after Thanksgiving would be a great opportunity to attract locals and their families coming from out of town for the holiday while also capitalizing on the start of the holiday shopping season.”
Ornelas, who will be showing 12 new paintings during the show, added, “When people come to the show, they have a chance to see some of El Paso’s leading artists who are using pop culture to connect with people and to inspire creativity, along with the opportunity to purchase some unique gifts, merchandise and items that will really make an impact when unwrapped at Christmas.”
People will see iconic Borderland landmarks reflected in the art.
In an Instagram message, Rodriguez said, “I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, both watching them and drawing them. So when I made art again, the child in me brought me back to what made me happy. With that, I tried to animate scenes from places like The Plaza Hotel, The Tap, and even Juarez’s own Tequila Derby to convey nostalgia to buyers of my art.”
He credits a variety of artists for helping him find his style.
Rodriguez said, “There are a variety of influences in my art, from the Lowbrow movement (Robert Williams; Ed Roth, who created the character of Rat Fink; Todd Schorr and others) to MAD & CRACKED Magazine, to Looney Tunes and the old Disney Black and White cartoons.”
On his website chucochamuco.com, Rodriguez further explains, “The artworks I make are a continuation of that old Saturday morning cartoon feel my generation grew up with. Armed with a remote control, a bowl of cereal, and a few stuffed animals, the cartoon images shown on TV influenced me to see the world through what I call my “cartoon lens.” Now as an adult, city scenes, historical events and diverse genres are caricatured with a touch of innocent perspective to transform the grittiest of scenes into crayon and pastel wonderlands.”
Choosing Toma as the venue was an easy choice, Ornelas said.
“We also decided that TOMA Gallery would be perfect in terms of size and central location, and would quickly become one of the city’s most vibrant and active art venues, with its numerous exhibitions featuring a variety of established and emerging artists,” said he. “All in all, we all hope word gets around and people will flock to the gallery to burn off some post-meal calories while also shopping for art, merchandise and unique gifts for loved ones.”
Ornelas sees the strength behind the colourful, often cartoonish imagery in pop art.
“I’ve always seen the power of pop art in its ability to take icons, images and ideas and use them to convey powerful messages that the masses find easier to digest mentally,” he said. “It’s like the language we all speak because we’re constantly bombarded with pop culture and it transcends all boundaries and really creates the global community.”
He also finds inspiration in a variety of artists.
“My main pop art influences are of course Andy Warhol, Frank Kozik, Ron English and my favorite of them all is Tadanori Yokoo”, a Japanese illustrator and designer.
Art lovers only have two days to tour the collection, Ornelas said.
“This event is only for Friday and Saturday and the art will go down after that.”
The BYOB art show runs daily from 6:00 p.m. to midnight.
Ornelas said the show offers Borderland residents a chance to see the strength of the local arts community.
“The last thing I wanted to say about the event is that we both just wanted to help showcase the amazing local artists that El Paso is producing, artists who have faced major challenges in showing their work due to the pandemic and to sell, but who all have never stopped creating and pushing to further push the caliber of art and creativity to the limit.”