Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Local Artist Meet and Greet: Soto Soto

Please tell me something about yourself that the average person wouldn't guess.

I think the color black is aesthetically boring. This is why you don't often see me wearing it. It (black) represents conformity and conservatism. It’s the color of lawyers and bankers, not radicals. It’s boring! All right, EVERYONE [all of my family and friends] know that about me. I'm a practitioner of Hispanic Spiritism and Lukumi (Santeria) and most of my friends belong to several local Wiccan Covens of Alexandrian and Georgian traditions. But then so many people know that about me as well. I guess I'm an open book as they say.

Picasso, Miró or Dr. Seuss?

Wow that’s hard! All are masters of line drawing and so similar in a broad sense. I have to say Theodor Seuss Geisel because I adore the art of children's book illustrations and his work seems so spontaneous and sincere.

What is your first art making memory as a child?

I was about five or six and I doodled some kind of anthropomorphic bird cartoon character that shocked the crap out of me because it was so simple yet dynamic; and as I remember it, looked just as good as Mickey Mouse or Snoopy or any other cartoon character on TV. My brain was somehow wired to work great at this kind of stuff and suck horribly at math from a pretty young age. Anyhow, some kid I showed it to grabbed it and tore it up.

If you could have a drink with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?

Well, that's complicated because my main influences are from unknowns like the makers of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, ancient Geek or Roman sculptors as well as painters of amphorae, Neolithic cave paintings and such. In my earlier teens, I loved Michelangelo and I think he would be an interesting person to talk to since he lived in such a horribly repressed time. And for those who know about real astrology and not the fashion magazine kind, he was a solar Pisces like me and I relate to him in many ways.

What's the last book you read?

The last book I read is Allan Kardec's 'The Book on Mediums: Guide for Mediums and Invocators' first published in 1874. The book I'm currently reading is 'Northern Mysteries and Magick' by Freya Aswynn.

Andy Warhol, Basquiat or Crème Brûlée?

All three in just that order actually. If you look at my stuff, it’s all very low-brow and I mean that in the lowest sense of that term, which now we also call 'pop-surrealism'. My stuff is totally influenced by popular culture. Even if I'm using ancient religious or occult symbolism, my work still remains something that was meant to issue from a spray can or Xerox machine.

Do you have a favorite local artist? If so, who? If not, why?

I'm my favorite local artist (laughs). Actually, there are a good number of local artists of extraordinary talent that I'm sure don't get the recognition they deserve. Tony Chimento is a Miami local who's been making photo realistic still life in oil, on the level of Vermeer I dare say, for years. The first time I walked into his studio in the original Lincoln Road, long before it was radically commercialized by generic retail stores, was I wanna say 1993 or '94. He probably doesn't remember me but I barged in and introduced myself while he was painting and his reaction was typical of artists who work seriously and meticulously.

Do you need long periods of time alone for artist inspiration or are you energized by interaction?

I have to say I'm most inspired by companionship. And I mean that in the romantic sense of the word. I've been single for a while now, like years, so my creative juices are flowing ever so slowly. It pisses all of my friends off. I started this one series in a digital medium about four or five years ago. I call it 'Transfiguration' and [they are] self portraits involving a process of change
represented by death and rebirth and so forth. The classic mythic symbolism underlying the anime influence is pretty clear and traditional. I have the images on my Myspace profile in one of my picture folders and, when I started the series back then, I told people I'd have newer images all the time. Well, [skip ahead to] four years later: I just finished adding four new images about a week ago. I had a friend ask me, "What happened to that series you were working on?” That was about two years ago.

[The] truth is, it’s a process of death and rebirth, or more precisely, radical changes to the self by which you no longer relate to the person you once were. These changes don't happen over night.

* See more of Soto Soto's art work on Saturday, April 18th at the Bear and Bird Gallery*

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