Artist Ronnie Ray Mendez Realistically Depicts the Surreal

Best of Phoenix hits newsstands today. In conjunction with this year's Vintage Phoenix theme, New Times is collaborating with R. Pela Contemporary Art to present "Hot Plate!" It's an exhibition of one-of-a-kind, Phoenix-inspired commemorative plates made by local artists. Leading up to the show's Oct. 4 opening, we're profiling each of the contributing artists and visiting their studios. Today: Ronnie Ray Mendez.

Ronnie Ray Mendez might be new to the Valley, but with his love for the absurd we think he'll fit right in. The artist thrives in surreal subject matter; it's not uncommon to see an animal head perched atop a human body in his work. But the craft is just as important as the content for this illustrator. Mendez typically works in pen and ink, creating incredibly detailed drawings with precise stippling and cross-hatching. We literally had to use a magnifying glass to take it all in.

See Also: Hot Plate! Best of Phoenix Commemorative Collaboration Opens Oct. 4 at R. Pela Gallery

For the past year, Mendez has been living and working in a beautiful home that he shares with his girlfriend and pet rabbit in the Encanto neighborhood. The space is full of little oddities that undoubtedly inspire his art.

What's your earliest memory of Phoenix? Dancing to Lou Reed at Kats. Just a jukebox, dive bar, beautiful girl, and a bottle of tequila.

What inspired your plate for this show? Guns, Liquor, Cacti, and Mountain Lions.

Phoenix needs more: Me

Phoenix needs less: Me

What's on your plate this fall? Steak and Eggs. My girlfriend feeds me green juice and vegetables all summer. I am also wrapping up my "Arcana" Series that I have been working on for the past year and a half. It's a visual narrative about a young female calf who loses the love of her life in a tragic accident. She attempts to bring him back to life with a magic ritual but unfortunately her magic is not quite developed and he returns as a T-Bone Steak. You can take a sneak peek at the series on the Juxtapose website. There are some graphic novels in the works, a cover design for a novel, as well as a dark children's book series my partner and I have been working on. I am also preparing three new pieces for a group show in San Francisco this December and a collaboration that is sure to be a "blast."

See Ronnie Ray Mendez's work when "Hot Plate!" opens October 4 at R. Pela Contemporary Art.

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