Sunday, December 28, 2008

Towns and Ties - 1

It's the holidays and what better time than to reflect on the past and look into what makes you You. Corny I know but I thought I would like to post something that isn't necessarily wrought from the art hammer. See, I'm not from the midwest or should I say that although I was born in Belleville, IL and reside in St. Louis, MO I have a strong connection with the American Southwest. Mi mamá y papá vivos en San Antonio Tejas and I spent a long portion of my formative years basking in it's culture. Tucson and Albuquerque were stopping points for this military brat as well. Mi hermanos were born in these towns respectively. Recently I have become reacquainted with an old friend from SA. He was listed as the Interstellar Mexican in an email that I almost trashed if it were not for the abnormal reading of my junk mail.
The Interstellar Mexican as he called himself is actually Dario Flores III. I always liked that name. It implies an historic figure or a personal and storied past that must be important enough to continue telling.

Who the fuck is Dario Flores? We started art school together in 1991 at San Antonio Community College. I had forsaken a career in the biological sciences and Dario had escaped the small town of Luling, Texas. Luling is proportionate to Mascoutah, IL. to give you a midwest reference. I remember Dario explaining that his father worked for the railroad and I assume that this was the family legacy. His father being a Dario meant that my Dario would most likely follow along ....or not. I recall my first class as young art students. We had taken advertising art for our first semester and were sharing  computers because computers were very new and I think we had 5 computer stations for 3 classes that had 10 to 15  students in each. You can imagine the bottle necking and cluster fucking that went on to get homework and class assignments done. While computers were new to the academic art scene, trading, bartering, pestering and bullying  were not. Dario was this loud dude that was always pushing his way into the lab and offering slots of time to people who were already at a station. Once his time was up at one computer he would go to another and pester, barter, bully  or steal for another round with ancient Apples. For one reason or another he never bothered me. It could have been that we had separate classes so he hadn't found an angle to pry. While in lab I would always bend an ear when Dario was hustling for another slot. It amused me so much that I thought to ask this guy about his reasons for creating a spectacle. I don't really remember what he said; something like, "she's hot and he's the smartest one in the class man...". Never the less his answer was pragmatic and lent a utilitarian aspect to an otherwise disorderly approach.

A semester later we started a band called Rain In The Face. Dario thought of the name, was the chief song writer and vocalist while I handled the melody and guitar. Our first gig was in my history class taught by a man of Cherokee descent who had a busy schedule with the United States Supreme Court petitioning for the right of Native Americans to freely engage in ceremony and religion with respect to altered-states and indigenous methods of achieving them. Rain In The Face happened for many years after, most notably playing in the King William district at a book house that held a weekly open mic poetry reading. Later I will post some of our boom box recordings done over the span of those many years.

As our friendship grew so did our art in divergent strains. San Antonio College was a fertile place for young artists, actually the entire city was and still is. We had the Blue Star, Pace, Southwest Craft Center, Fine Silver, Cactus Bra and San Antonio Art Museum just to start . Then there's the many independent run spaces and alternative venues. When you got tired of that you could head up I-35 to Austin and  I-10 or I-90 to Houston - a day trip for either. Dario's work took off after entering into the fine art department and taking a class from Mel Casas. Mel was part of the Chicano movement in America. One can hear an opus to this period by listening to Ry Cooder's - Chávez Ravine. A second cousin to me - Eddie de la Vara, was a contemporary of the period along with Mel but you'll have to drive to Agua Prieta to see the 4' x 6' charcoal of a chicano Last Supper. Dario had started making large scale paintings referencing and riffing off Casas. I'd like to think that Brownies of the Southwest was a launching point for Dario. You can see a small image of this piece on Cheech Marin's Chicano website if you scroll through the paintings.

Dario and I went different directions after I got accepted to Washington University. I haven't seen or spoken to him in a while and it's good to hear from an old friend during the holidays. So what is he doing these days? Well, music and art are still happening but he's not so much the younger bully he used to be. You can follow the band he currently occupies here.


Confluence City said...

I forget you were born in Belleville, I love the name "Dario," awaits those boombox recordings!

nosey parker said...

I must speak out of context and say that Blind Cat Black is getting the attention it deserves. Rock on
Confluence City, Rock on Poetry Scores!