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ART SMART: ALEX TREVINO
A neighbor and dear friend, Alex Treviño has eaten tacos for our infamous Taco Story, and his dog Lucy has protected our offices from numerous trespassers. He has worked on his sculpture in the Pearl Building for the last three years, and as the first tenant of the building, his departure signals the end of an era. Famous sits down for a chat with one of downtown's brightest and kindest young artists.
Fresno Famous: How was it being the first person who moved into the Pearl building and what was your first night downtown like?
AT: I remember it being really scary cause there was no one around. I was the first one there and it was dark everywhere and here I am moving away from suburban Reedley where everything is nice and safe into downtown Fresno where there's like crazy people yelling outside. Just yelling at themselves. It was a really different scene.
FF: What was in your apartment that first night?
AT: The first night? I remember not having anything for a long time. No plants no furniture I just basically had my recliner and a few things. TV. Stereo. Not much.
FF: Why'd you move here in the first place?
AT: Reza had been talking about it for a long time. He was setting this place up and I was doing art and he wanted to really push this place for artists and it seemed like a really cool place to live in. Lofts. It wasn't your typical apartment. It kind of reminded me of San Francisco, the way it was set up and I thought to myself, "Yeah, this is different."
FF: Did you find the atmosphere conductive to your work? Did you get a lot of work done?
AT: No. There was a problem. You can't weld at the Pearl Building because the sparks coming of the welding would pop holes in the concrete. And that's what I do, I make bronze and metal sculptures.
FF: So, you work with bronze and other metals?
AT: I started with welding and then I moved into bronze. I stayed with bronze for a long time but I've been wanting to get back into welding. Since I've been here, I've put out two or three pieces that I feel were really mature, my angel piece, the flower piece that I have ... I mean I got some good stuff out of there. But I feel the experiences I got out of here were more important.
FF: What's your most memorable Pearl Building experience?
AT: I have to think. There's been a lot.
FF: Well, then what's the most memorable that you actually remember. Maybe that's a better way of asking...
AT: Let's talk about stuff that I can talk about ... There was one time where we were hanging out after a show and everyone wanted the party to keep going and everyone was sitting in the room and my neighbor put on some music and I remember everyone just started dancing and it turned into a really good night. It was fun to just to let it all out.
FF: Has the Pearl changed?
AT: It has. In the beginning it seemed it was really, really about art and I kind of see it fading, it's getting into more like, I don't know if it is so much about art or more just who can pay the price to live there.
FF: Were all the original tenants artists?
AT: They were. Reza, Adam - Adam Longatti was actually a working artist, that's what he puts on his IRS form, that's how he gets his money. Brandon Greer was doing all the metal working you see outside. Reza was painting, and I was doing sculpture at Fresno State. It was a really good time. It was so new.
FF: Has your work changed a lot since you first started living there?
AT: Yeah, of course. You can't help being influenced by the people around. I think I've lived around a lot of different and really good artists and I think that's helped me pick up the level of my work from student art to really meaningful art and having an idea and working it out with metal.
FF: What kind of stuff are you working on right now?
AT: Right now. Nothing in particular. I'm waiting to move out and I'm setting up a little welding shop at my new place.
FF: In the past with your work, what's been your focus, what sort of forms have you been working with, what has been the inspiration?
AT: I can't really say. I usually have to be really depressed. Here's the thing, I can sometimes have trouble expressing my feelings. I can be very reserved. It's the old Mexican traditional thing where the man tries to be really tough and that whole machismo thing. I think I have trouble expressing things and I think art is a way for me to get all those emotions I lock up inside and get them out. So when I start I don't have any particular idea. I start with a shape. I like spheres, organic looking shapes, stuff that looks like things in nature. Then I see something in it and I just keep going with it. I guess depression is my inspiration.
FF: What's your favorite piece that you've completed?
AT: My favorite piece has to be my last one. The angel.
AT: I feel it is a representation of me. If you look at my first pieces they are all hunched over and hiding and the Angel's going the opposite direction and he's kinda out there and ready to take off and do something.
FF: Do you think being Mexican and that cultural background has affected your sculpture?
AT: I know it has affected my sculpture, but I honestly don't think of like being Mexican and trying to portray something Mexican. I'm just trying to make art. I think it's easy to fall into a niche and get categorized. I always try to avoid that. I don't want to be known as just a Mexican artist. You can get caught up in the whole Mexican Folk Art stereotype.
FF: How do you feel about Mexican folk art?
AT: I think that some of it is pretty good. I saw some really good metal work at Arte Américas but I think we shouldn't focus so much on the past. Let's focus on the artists that are doing something right now and not dwell so much on the past. I mean worry about it but let's put some focus on the future of Mexico. I mean there are kids out there, they are doing stuff, and nobody knows about them. I don't know about them. I wish I did, I wish I didn't have to search so hard to find it.
FF: Why do you think there is so much focus put on that stuff?
AT: It's safe. It's a big part of Califonia history. A lot of the stuff they portray. A lot of Mexican-American artwork depicts fieldworkers and it's important to get that out there, but I don't ever seeing myself being that sort of artist.