Two of El Paso’s up-and-coming street artists, Diego “Robot” Martinez and Tino Ortega, have joined efforts to produce their first collaboration called Iconic Points in Time, an exhibit focusing on the representation of past, present and the future portrayals of El Paso, that took place at the Art Avenue Gallery on March 26.
The local artists feature iconic landmarks such as Asarco, the star on the Franklin Mountains and the well-known El Paso Trolleys. “Our approach can be considered somewhat different, we are completely opposite, but the difference in our styles is what makes our collaboration pieces so unique,” Martinez said.
The brightly colored accents and defined lines of Ortega, with the aggressive almost chaotic environment of Martinez’ bold colors, casually placed shapes and use of multiple mediums demonstrates the exhibit’s alignment with El Paso’s current artistic momentum. “I believe we are in a place where people are recognizing the value of collaboration. Painters are the ones who tend to isolate themselves in the works, so it was exciting to see Martinez and Ortega work together on this project”, said a local mixed media artist. “I think their collaboration brought a different energy to the pieces than the energy they bring to their pieces individually in the context of their work.”
Ortega, who collaborated with Peter Svarzbein on the Trolley Projects in 2012 and whose works were featured at the Broadway Gallery NYC, met Martinez in 2010. He knew an official collaboration with Martinez was inevitable. “We have known each other for five years and Diego was always trying to convince me to collaborate, but I dragged my feet a little bit. So as I continued to witness how hard he was working on other [collaborations], I realized it was time to pick up my feet,” Ortega said.
Witnessing Martinez’ style growing more diverse, Ortega said this was the moment he realized it was time to collaborate. “To be honest, the first piece [‘The Skull’] we did together, I didn’t expect it to look as good as it did, but it just kind of grew from that,” Ortega said.
The second piece they worked on was “Silent Prayers,” a classic acrylic portrait by Ortega that complemented Martinez’ frame, which included chalk, pencil, spray paint and acrylics. The duo says they finished the piece in only two days. “[Martinez] suggested it jokingly, and we thought we could give it a try and revisit it—make it look fresh. Our purpose was to make the Virgin Mary look modern,” said Ortega.
Their creative direction allowed the artists to wet their feet at the first stage of collaboration, before going all in on their three-panel perspective project, Iconic Points in Time. “When you collaborate, you have to commit and have to realize that the art is not about the artist anymore, it’s about what the painting wants to be,” Martinez said.
To begin the collection, Martinez created the wooden frames and without a particular schedule to follow they began adding elements to the pieces. “I would tag him and then we would just switch back and forth until we felt that our painting was done,” Ortega said.
After night sessions at Ortega’s garage, what had taken five years to start was completed in just three weeks.
Martinez, who says he loves working in El Paso and has collaborated with Lucky Genius Productions, Double Scope Films and local eateries such as Craze, The Pizza Joint and Rulis’, sees his collaboration with Ortega as another way to help grow the city, with hopes that the art scene continues to expand.
We are very proud of El Paso, having been both born and raised here,” Martinez said.
We are trying to have a conversation with similar people that care about the city as much as we do, and we hope to contribute to the city’s growth through our art.”Ortega, whose and first mural can be seen on the San Carlos building on Texas Ave., believes that the exhibit will show El Pasoans a new perspective to their city and hopes they can appreciate it more. “We are not a saturated city, we are currently being part of a movement. The city is progressing, and why wouldn’t you want to be part of it?” he said. “This is a beautiful town and it has a lot to offer. I keep coming back and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.”
Iconic Points in Time will be showcased at The Art Avenue Gallery at 1618 Texas Street Suite E until June 12, 2015. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., or call (915) 213.4318 for an appointment.