Over the weekend, Thomas Marcus (who also goes by Breeze) and an artist who'd rather you call him Jetsonorama climbed to the roof of The Hive gallery in downtown Phoenix and started their first collaborative piece.
|Billboard collaboration by Jetsonorama and Breeze at the Hive, photo by Jetsonorama|
The two share a passion for large-scale artwork -- in different mediums. Breeze is all about paint. His symbolic and Tohono O'odham basket-inspired line work and definitive graffiti styles have decorated walls all over downtown Phoenix. Jetsonorama is a longtime documentary photographer. He creates photographs in black and white and prints them out in 3-foot strips. The strips are then pieced together as he pastes them onto roadside stands, water tanks, and billboards in Shonto, Arizona -- and now, in Phoenix.
Beyond artwork, Breeze and Jetsonorama also share a long history on the Reservation; Breeze says he grew up simultaneously in Phoenix and on the Salt River Community, and Jetsonorama's been a doctor on the Dine (Navajo) Reservation for the last 24 years.
Breeze says the time that they've
spent on the land and with the culture is the common thread in Rezolution
, an exhibition opening at 7 p.m. this Friday at The Hive featuring work by Breeze, Jetsonorama, Tom Greyeyes, Dwayne Manuel, Douglas Miles, Anthony Thosh Collins,
and Razelle Benally
|Thomas "Breeze" Marcus' Hohokam Canal System on Regular Gallery in Phoenix. Photo by Claire Lawton|
Breeze has been organizing the show for almost a year. He first met The Hive's Julia Fournier and Steven Helffrich when he and Lalo Cota were painting a mural on the side of the building a year ago. After talking ideas for a future exhibition, Fournier and Helffrich gave Breeze the December slot.
He says he brought in the show's seven artists because of their influences on his own work, their histories on the reservation, and their diversity in style -- with a few unifying elements:
"The work in this show will be outside the context of institutionalized "Native American art'," he says. "It is based around Reservation life and the idea of creating Resolutions (spelled with a "z" for the show, as to play off of what Native people call "Rez Life") to specific issues such as Protection of sacred land sites, protection of traditional culture vs racist pop culture stereotypes, as well as showing contemporary Indigenous life from our point of view and not just as the label of "Native people", but as real human beings no different from anyone else."
While Breeze and Jetsonorama both say Native culture plays a large role in their work, they also cite contemporary street artists and Mexican muralists who popularized large scale street art in the early 1900s.
Jetsonorama's latest project includes large-scale portraits of friends, family, activists, and his community members who often wear messages across their faces (see below) that deal with regional and cultural issues. He says he works at a scale that his audience can see while driving down the highway and through his community or while walking through the neighborhood.
Yes, he says, it's inspired by street artist JR's work, which also includes large-scale portrait prints pasted around the world. Jetsonorama contacted JR in 2009 and asked him to bring his artwork to Arizona. When he didn't hear back, he started printing himself.
|Jetsonorama on The Hive. Photo courtesy of the artist. |
"I'm all about breaking down barriers between groups of people," he says. "If my art gets people talking to one another who might not otherwise communicate with one another, then that's cool ... This project has also given me insight into how art can be used to foster a sense of community and pride. I'm grateful for that."
His sentiment is echoed by Breeze, who hopes that the artwork in the show reaches beyond what an audience might expect or assume is "Native art":
"Im hoping people who might have a sort of presumption of native art and native people, will walk away with a different point of view and new found respect for the Native perspective, as well as the work we create and lives we live every day."
Rezolution opens tomorrow at 7 p.m. at The Hive, 2222 N. 16th Street, in Phoenix. If you miss the opening, the gallery will be open during regular business hours (see the website) and Jetsonorama's pastes will be "up until they're gone."
2222 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ