Hello Kitty is approaching 40, which might be a little early for a mid-life crisis, but if cats really do have nine lives, now is as good a time as any for reinvention.
Enter: Chola Kitty -- a feline with spunk.
This Friday, local artist Such Styles is unveiling his series of cat parodies at the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center in "Chola Kitty Nueve Vidas", a show he calls "a curious look at what didn't kill the cat."
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Such Styles' artistic journey began at a young age. He got his start as a graffiti writer in the early 1980s after reading Craig Castleman's "Getting Up", but he says that growing up in South Phoenix was an inspiration in itself. "Graffiti played its part as our local neighborhood décor, and I remember always being intrigued by its presence and territorial symbolism," he says. "My walk to grade school as a youngster in the early 1970s included witnessing different Cholo-[esque] fonts that appeared on the surrounding neighborhood and our school walls. The hard line ghetto barrio scripts always seemed to carry their own attitude."
Such started constructing his own creative identity and spent years practicing his art form on walls and in freight yards with fellow graffiti writers. However, he took note that many of the New York subway pioneering graffiti writers also showed in galleries and (eventually) museums. This encouraged Such to explore other more permanent forms of expression as well.
"I feel my first love will always be walls and more so trains," he says. "However canvas work has its own sacred place with me."
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But even on canvas, the influence of Such's background with graffiti remains evident. He started making his Chola Kitties as a sort of nod to his predecessors. "The subway graffiti forefathers would include cartoon characters with their graffiti letters. This added that extra punch and made the piece that much more memorable to me," he says.
In this way, Such's work creates a nice bridge between the past and present of graffiti art. And this is what grounds the parody, making it much more than just a funny joke. He says he hopes visitors will be "charmed with a touch of pleasant nostalgia." And we're pretty sure you will be.