Growing up on Manhattan's Upper West Side was an advantage for graffiti kids in the early '80s, but the street action seldom built fine art chops. Back in the day, Miguel Paredes used the handle "Mist" bombing walls, while he got a leg up in artsville at New York's Fiorello La Guardia High School of Music and Art, which gained notoriety in the play and movie Fame. Decades later, he's a force in Miami's Wynwood Arts District, a regular at Art Basil in Miami Beach, has been represented by UNIX Fine Art (home to the likes of Banksy and Shephard Fairey in London and Miami), and has received commissions from Disney Underground, the venerable firm's urban art division. But Paredes credits his mentor Ronnie Cutrone for giving him an edge. And no wonder. Cutrone, known for his Felix the Cat renditions, was Andy Warhol's right-hand man at The Factory during the '70s, and is still in the saddle. And while Paredes utilizes both graffiti stylings and cartoon quotes in his painting, those are just two arrows in his quiver.
You can see a sweet collection of his current work at The Paint Yard this month, which is exhibiting Paredes and L.A. artist Kyle William Harper through March 22. Paredes' pieces feature spray cap and manga riffs, and when he feels like it, straight-ahead portraiture added to his rambunctious compositions that would make many a drawing instructor jealous. Recently, Paredes has been spending time in L.A., and so has brought his friend Harper to the SA show.
Harper's work is less eclectic than Paredes', and is often a collage-like array of American cartoon imagery. He spent years traveling the world following the Grateful Dead tour as an extreme "Deadhead," and used those road skills and time in skater culture to find respect as a fine artist in L.A., and has gone on to curate shows in Berlin and Hollywood.
So, why is this talent in SA?
If you don't know by now, The Paint Yard is a rare outpost for premium German spray paint company Montana, sells the competition brands too, and backs what aerosol action we have in town. More to the point, they've been showing national talent since opening the gallery last fall. And while showing urban art at the joint that supplies the street may smack of celebrity endorsements, ponder this: How many indie art spaces in any town can keep the doors open on a regular (I don't mean once or twice a month) basis? Yeah, the art biz is mercantile, too.
'Molly Is Not A Hipster'
Miguel Paredes and Kyle William Harper
Through March 22
The Paint Yard Boutique & Gallery
525 San Pedro