OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — He brings a street artist’s flair to an empty gallery wall.
“The ideas come first,” says Narciso Arguelles. “Then I work to make it happen.”
To define Arguelles’ art is to dip a brush into the bright colors on both sides of the Mexican-American border.
“It’s pretty cool,” he chuckles while surveying his latest mural. “Maybe it’s like Lichtenstein if he were a Mexican.” “Or maybe it’s a Latin Jackson Pollack.”
He grew up in Tijuana, Mexico and San Isidro, California crisscrossing the border regularly.
The result was a mixture of cultural influences all his own. “It was tough,” he recalls. “You’re either not Mexican enough or American enough.”
“The mixture is called mestizo.”
He came to Oklahoma and taught in high schools and colleges too. Arguelles is a photographer and painter, an activist who wears his unique heritage proudly.
“That’s one of the things I was hoping to do with this exhibition up in Tulsa is to include that culture,” he says.
The big mural of a ‘Day of the Dead’ flamenco girl is destined for the side of a building near the new Hardesty Art Center in Tulsa.
His own show there will be called ‘Heaven Spots’. It’s a term used by street artists for putting their work in the most visible place.
It’s a risky move because the artist might fall. But when it works it’s beautiful. “I think this is why they chose me,” Narciso says, “because I wanted to go big.”
An empty wall at the City Arts Center in Oklahoma City isn’t hard to reach, but producing a show for a new Tulsa gallery is the best ‘heaven spot’ there is for a contemporary artist who’s work continues to reach across borders.
The new Hardesty Art Center is located in Tulsa’s Brady district. The official grand opening is scheduled for December 16. Arguelles will be one of the center’s first artists in residence.