Visual Arts

Gennaro Garcia and DOSE: "Bienvenidos a Arizona"

It's about time Phoenix sees some serious mural love. In the interest of giving credit to their artists and because we're losing track of the times we've said, "Woah, when did that go up?", we bring you Mural City, a series on the murals springing up around town -- their artists, their hosts and their inspirations.

It's hard to believe Gennaro Garcia and DOSE hadn't met each other before they began working on the south-facing wall of Deportes America on 16th Street, south of Thomas Road -- now, they barely pause between teasing each other to switch spray cans.

"When we first started, Gennaro wanted to use acrylic [for a majority of the mural]," says DOSE. "There was no way ... I convinced him that spray paint was going cover a lot more wall space in a lot less time."

Garcia, a fine artist, admits to barely using spray paint on a large scale prior to this mural. Luckily, he was in the safe hands of DOSE, one of the most notable and celebrated urban artists in Phoenix. Since they've started, the two artists have traded as many tricks and skills as they have paint cans.

DOSE and Garcia were recruited by Silvana Salcido Esparza, the woman behind Barrio Cafe, to be part of her large-scale mural project, Calle 16, which Esparza hopes will span 16th Street and create a stronger community.

The two artists and their young assistants (all three say they'd rather be painting than riding their bikes, or doing whatever they planned to do that day) are working on the project's first mural, "Bienvenidos a Arizona".

Read more about the artists and their mural after the jump ...

Esparza's gone to check on lunch -- carne asada's cooking in the Barrio kitchen -- when 14-year-old Christian Ramirez picks up a can to work on one of the figures.

He's smooth and careful around the outlines that DOSE and Garcia have drawn. Both artists laugh as they watch Ramirez -- "He's way too good," they both say. "You said you're 14?" asks DOSE. "Yeah, you've been spraying with the cans out of your dad's garage then for a while." Ramirez smiles.

DOSE says he started aerosol art at a very young age -- his inspiration came from the murals in Los Angeles. Garcia started at a young age, too, drawing the waitresses in his family's restaurant in Mexico.

Both artists were more than happy to get some help when Esparza brought the boys in from the neighborhood. "My mind would have been blown to get a chance to paint a wall this size at that age," says DOSE (who's helped run youth programs on legal walls like "graffiti alley" on McDowell Road between 18th and 19th streets).

The two men are grateful for more than the extra pair of hands; they both say they're happy to have met each other, to be working together, and to be part of a project that's bringing the arts and the neighborhood community closer.

"Bienvenidos a Arizona" will take the two a few months to complete. Beyond the aerosol base coat, Garcia and DOSE have plans to incorporate acrylic detail, lace-stenciled details, and the centerpiece -- a large face, which Garcia will chisel out of concrete and plaster layers that have been added to the center of the wall.

Their time line changes slightly, as they're both busy during the week and Garcia's off to gallery openings and working on a two-man show with George Yepes set to open at Arizona [email protected] Arts & Cultural Center (ALAC) in January.

"So we're both mostly out here on weekends," DOSE says. "But trust me, I'm out here busting my ass while this one's out traveling and doing his thing."

They both laugh.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton