Artist Insights: Juan Angel Chavez
Brought to you by popular demand, CGN has launched a new weekly interview series reminiscent of 'An Interview With a Dealer' with the focus on meeting and learning about one new artist each week. This week we feature Juan Angel Chavez.
Hometown: La Junta Chihuahua, Mexico
Previous/other occupations: Butcher, child jockey, DJ, construction worker and art educator.
Spot in the city: Any DIY skate spot
Art supply store: Swap-O-Rama on Tuesdays or any abandoned building
Music or Podcasts: Music
Sweater or Hoodie: Both
Coffee or tea: Coffee
CGN: Share with us a little bit about your artistic background and training.
JAC: I went to art school but never finished. Art school is worth it, you just need to be in the right mind set.
CGN: Do you remember the first work of art that made a lasting impression on you?
JAC: The first time I was intrigued by the idea of art was when I was very little. In Mexico, we had a family friend that was connected to the environment in many ways. He built his own house. Grew his own food and traveled by foot or mule back. He lived like it was 1887, he never had electricity or any comforts of the modern world. He was Yaqui and Pima but had been living in Chihuahua for almost a century. My family knew him because my great grandfather was a close friend of his. We also knew that he knew every plant, tree, bug or rock in the mountains, for their medicinal properties. He also built perfect barb wire fences.
Besides these great things, he had a knack for collecting doll heads and sticking them on top of the fence posts around his house. He collected metal cans and used the metal to make anything he needed.. hinges, patch holes on doors or just used them as cups. In retrospect, this was my first introduction to the effect of being connected to a creative process.
CGN: What art has been particularly meaningful in your life?
JAC: I’ve always been a jealous of music, film and writing. Compared to visual art they have an advantage for reaching sentiments in a much greater form. I feel like I’m always trying to compose my work in the same format as films or songs are written. Compositions of entry points, accessible beats, profound content for observations of contemporary life.
CGN: Describe your studio!
JAC: My studio is my home. I own a building in McKinley Park. I live upstairs and the studio is on the first floor. I have a small wood shop and an office. That’s it!
In the studio, I don’t keep a lot of materials because I find them when I need them. In the office it is just a flat file cabinet, a desk and a lot of models of sculptures that I’ve made.
CGN: Anything you can’t work without?
JAC: IDEAS, I can’t live without them.
CGN: How do you know when a piece of yours is finished?
JAC: I know a piece is done when I don’t have any interest on it. I spend lots of time thinking and my work is kind of immediate.
CGN: What do you do when you feel creatively blocked?
JAC: I go skate, a bike ride helps or just take a walk.
CGN: Your studio is about to disappear, you have enough time to grab one item, what do you take?
JAC: The small axe my father gave me. It's sentimental.
CGN: Do you have a role model or mentor?
JAC: I have had many role models throughout my life. Teachers, artist, family but I always looked up to my grandfather the most. He only had a 6th grade education but managed to establish a beer distributing business that supported 12 children and grandchildren. He put them all through university and helped them establish their own careers. He was an example of hard work and what really matters in life.
CGN: What should we expect to see from you next?
JAC: Paintings, plywood assemblages and a monstrous interactive installation coming to Mexico in 2019.