The following is an interview that
took place between December 2001 and January 2002 with Gerardo Yepiz.
The interview was conducted via email and an in-person studio visit.
The responses have been edited for content.
kiyotei: Why do you think any artist
needs a web site?
kiyotei: What is your connection
with "Obey Giant" and the whole posse thing?
At this point the interview was in person. I called Gerardo on the phone and we met at his studio in North Park, a residential and Shopping district in the heart of San Diego. I first saw Gerardo as he was walking on the sidewalk and I was driving towards him as instructed by cell phone. We each had a phone in our ear and he directed me to the parking area behind his studio.
As soon as I got out of the car and shook hands with him, a maintenance person from his building asked Gerardo to open the studio so he could work on the electrical system. I grabbed my digital camera and followed them into the studio.
I was immediately bombarded with brightly colored artwork from floor to ceiling. Familiar faces like Mr. T, JonBenét Ramsey, Bob ( from the Church of the Subgenious) Luis Donaldo Colosio(the presidential candidate assassinated in 1994 inTijuana), and many other faces that I did not recognize. I snapped a few photos while Gerardo talked to the maintenance guy.
Gerardo is a striking character with his distinctively chiseled features, a long ponytail, earrings and a bright orange jacket . He is very soft-spoken, intelligent and proud of his Mexican heritage. He loves showing off his paintings and talking about his many projects.
After looking around a bit, we sat down and discussed a few items and I read a list of questions.
kiyotei: When did you
start sending out your mailart?
kiyotei: When did you
move to San Diego?
kiyotei: That's a cool goal! I love
Ensenada. I like hanging out at the clubs. What kind of music do you
kiyotei: What is Nortec?
At this point, there is a loud pop and sizzle and the lights go out. A small cloud of smoke slithers around the overhead florescent light and gathers on the ceiling. We both jump up and check it out. The maintenance man comes in and tries to explain what happened. It smells like burning rubber. He says that the transformer must have blown. Gerardo is upset and while he talks to the man, I slip off to take more pictures outside the studio.
The paintings look great out in the sunlight. He uses a combination of house paint, spray paint, and stencils in his artwork. There are many recurring themes like police cars, asthma inhaler's and missiles.
I overhear the conversation about the electrical situation. It seems like Gerardo is a little worried that he will be without power or that there might be an electrical fire that will damage his work. Looking around at all the paint cans and paper and wood in the room, I think he has good reason to be concerned. The maintenance man assures him that everything is okay and wanders off to do more testing.
kiyotei: (I point to the painting in the middle, the one with the guy on the telephone) There are a lot of pictures of this guy, who is he?
Gerardo: His name is Raul Velasco. I call him the Lawrence Welk of Mexico. He was the host of a very popular television variety show in Mexico. It's all very tacky. He's very powerful in the media. That's what it is like in Mexico, If they don't like you, you never get on the television. You have to make the right connections.
kiyotei: When did you
move into this studio?
kiyotei: How would you describe your
kiyotei: What has been the reaction
to your acamonchi pages?
kiyotei: What does "acamonchi"
kiyotei: Tell me about the zine?
Gerardo: The zine comes out every once in a while, is all about visuals, but hopefully number 4 will be a multi colored offset.
kiyotei: Do you consider graffiti
like the stuff on http://www.graffiti.org/ as art or a crime?
kiyotei: So what other projects are you working on now?
Gerardo: I'm currently working on a video of skateboarding and guerrilla art. I also sent some paintings to Tokyo, Japan for display in the "Festival of Mexican Art." I am also getting ready to exhibit some paintings in Paris.
kiyotei: Wow that's pretty cool. Are you a skateboarder?
kiyotei: Well that is almost a crime around here - so you are the vicious criminal type -mailartist, skateboarder and graffiti artist! Thanks for the interview Gerardo, It was cool meeting you in person. Good luck with your upcoming overseas exhibits and let's get together again soon.
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