61: Ernesto Moncada

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When we last put the spotlight on 100 creative forces in Phoenix, it was no secret there were more than 100 individuals who were making waves in the local arts community. So as we count down to our annual Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome (back) to 100 Creatives

Ernesto Moncada wears a (very large) number of hats.

He was born in Mexico City and has been living and working and living in downtown Phoenix since 2001. He's the published author of "Cayendo" (a novel, 1999), "Siete Pares de Ojos" (short stories, 2000) and "Posias Malias" (poetry, 2011); a spoken word poet and cartoonist; an actor (as seen in the New Carpa productions The Eagle & the Serpent and American Pastorela) and a stand-up comedian.

Moncada hosts (either by himself or as "Ernasty") the variety show "Firestage" (now at Aside of Heart), the talk show "Grand Ave Live!" (at the Trunk Space) and other events like burlesque reviews and open mics. He's a funding member, playwright, and director of the experimental theatre company Arcana Collective (as seen in the 4th Annual Phoenix Fringe Festival with "Panic Opera Sacraments" and the monthly Space 55 show "Arcana Cabaret"), and member of the improvisational theatre troupes The Empty Frames Experiment (with The Torch Theatre alumni) and Los Subtítulos (as seen in the 10th and 11th Phoenix Improv Festivals).

And when he has a spare moment (or two), he is a student adviser for an online graphic design college.

I came to Phoenix . . . in late 2000, with a working visa and a job as a magazine editor for TVyMás, an all-Spanish entertainment weekly, after visiting the city for shopping and rock concerts many times before, like a typical Mexican living in Sonora usually does. The publishing office was in the heart of downtown Phoenix and I moved next door to it, setting my entire Arizona existence to the only place in the Valley that resembles Mexico City in more than a couple of ways.

I make art because . . . I grew up in an artistic environment, with parents that were both the only artists in their respective families (my father a writer, my mother a painter). I grew up with art-making as an almost instinctual reaction to the experience of living and learning, whether that was enjoyable or upsetting. Being alive and imaginative has always seemed like enough reason to sit down and write or draw, or to get up in front of people and tell a dirty joke or the biggest lie you can think of. Also, and I say this as a naturally shy asthmatic geek, entertaining those around does wonders for your social life. Producing art is the best way to connect with the world around you.

I'm most productive when . . . I'm the busiest. Maybe I'm guilty of that Mexican cliche about procrastinating until the last minute, you might blame it on my graphic design background, but I definitely work better and faster with specific deadlines than with open-ended projects. And because I work two jobs, one full and one part time, I've trained myself to feel inspired anytime and anywhere I might have time to develop an idea. This way, a long train commute, waiting for an appointment or being stranded somewhere become priceless chances to learn some lines, to edit a script or to sketch a scene or wardrobe possibilities. I do like the fact that there is no room for boredom in my schedule.

My inspiration wall is . . . inside my heart and mind, full of people I love and respect (some are family, others I know personally as friends, many I will never be able to talk to); cluttered with artistic expressions of diverse sources and quality (from super-hero comics and subversive novels to impressionistic reproductions, masks and percussion instruments); with a loud and assertive constant-changing soundtrack; including friendly dogs that seem to be smiling all the time, nature in all its sad and violent wonder and the glorious chaos of urban landscapes; I suppose a big chunk of it is dedicated to the romantic notion that epiphanies might be right around the corner, no matter how unlikely that is.

I've learned the most from . . . observing the world from as many different perspectives as possible and accumulating experiences as they were collector's items, but I'd be lying if I didn't give kudos to practice, rehearsal, studying, workshops, teachers, fellow conspirators, research, madness, abstraction, and good ol' chance and circumstance. Still, the nerd in me wants to be definitive and say: "Love and books", while my internal bastard replies angrily: "Parties and travels". I'm lucky that contradicting oneself can be a great learning tool if paying enough attention.

Good work should always . . . raise some kind of reaction from the audience (even if it's negative and tries really hard to be positive), it should aim to be timeless and constructive and not topical and destructive, and above all, it must be done with passion and humility. I personally believe no good work can spring from greed, selfishness or revenge. Alejandro Jodorowsky says that "any art that does not heal is not art" and I agree in the sense that artwork functions best when it tries to right a wrong, or address a situation that must be changed for the benefit of the many.

The Phoenix creative scene could always use . . . more resources, of course; spaces, funds and infrastructure, what every art community can't ever get enough of. Support can come in small doses but things continue to roll somehow. However, outside of budgets and properties, Phoenix artists would benefit with more open, productive criticism among us, and a receptive attitude towards improving and evolving. We have to eradicate self-congratulatory tendencies and stop ego masturbation; celebrating stagnated ideas and worshiping the tired knack of complaining without action, is a true waste of time, money and talent.

The Creatives, so far ... (And while you're here, check out 100 Tastemakers on Chow Bella.)

100:Lara Plecas 99. Isaac Caruso 98. Brandon Gore 97. Kelsey Dake 96. Hector Ruiz 95. Caroline Battle 94: Jennifer Campbell 93. Jeff Chabot 92. Tiffiney Yazzie 91. Daniel Germani 90. Irma Sanchez 89. Daniel m. Davis 88. Kirstin Van Cleef 87. Emmett Potter 86. Sarah Hurwitz 85. Christine Cassano 84. Fred Tieken 83. Lindsay Kinkade 82. Ruben Galicia 81. Robert Uribe 80. Heidi Abrahamson 79. Josephine Davis 78. Travis Ladue 77. Taz Loomans 76. Mikey Jackson 75. Alex Empty 74. Joe Ray 73. Carol Roque 72. Daniel Funkhouser 71. Carla Chavarria 70. Hugo Medina 69. Cavin Costello 68. Claire Carter 67. Lindsay Tingstrom 66. Catherine Ruane 65. Christopher Crosby 64. Aaron Johnson 63. Brenda Eden 62. Colton Brock

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