Interview: Galeria de los Muertos

Marco Turrubiartes aka ‘El Vaquero Muerto’ is a very talented local artist and leather worker who owns and operates a unique gallery in downtown Phoenix. From the moment you walk into the Galeria de los Muertos, you can tell this is not your every day art experience. For one, the walls are always adorned with day of the dead skulls. When I visited recently to pose for Marco’s “Sins” collection, there was an incredibly realistic life size zombie with his guts spewed about hanging from the wall, along with other dark, surreal and twisted pieces created by a collection of amazing artists. If you have not been there yet, I highly recommend it. With spooky art in all price ranges, you may even find yourself leaving with a new decoration for your own walls at home. – Fuchsia

1. Marco, tell us more about the Galeria de los Muertos.

Galeria de los Muertos is a new art gallery concept centered around the idea that art should be accessible to everyone. So we created a gallery in the salon style (lots of art on the walls rather than big white spaces with sparse pieces) that sells original works as well as giclee prints on canvas of the works in various sizes from $10 minis to $175 large pieces. Thus, we have something in a price-range that everyone can afford, so the community has access to the art of our talented artists and the artists can be supported by the larger community.

We also distinguish ourselves by holding a themed group show each month in the first room of the gallery and showcasing the general works of our artists in the other two. So every month the gallery undergoes a transformation and gets re-made, though you can still find all your favorites. We also take the art to the people by having our artists set up extended selections of their works on our lawn for First Fridays, setting up booths at the AZ Derby Dames roller derby games, the AZ Fetish Ball and other events at various venues around the Phoenix Metro area.

2. What types of work can be found in your gallery, and what other artists have you featured there?

We have everything from tooled leather to paintings, illustrations, sculptures, custom art vinyl toys, digital paintings, zombie pinatas, wood sculpture, art jewelry, spray art, digital photography, mixed media, art stuffed animals and insects with gears in them. The range of work that we have is astounding. Our artists are members of our gallery and show work with us every month, so our collectors can always find their work here. Currently, we represent:

El Vaquero Muerto: Leather, Painting and Illustration
Jenny Fontana: Painting, Illustration, Mixed Media
Maynard Breese: Digital Painting
Sir Thomas M. Deadstuff: Zombie Pinatas, Paper Machet, Illustration
Tommy Pemberton: Digital Photography
I Must Be Dead: Digital Photography
Davemarkart: Sculpture, Vinyl Art Toys
Aleta Welling: Painting, Mixed Media
Jenice Grimes: Art Dolls, Sculpture
Darling Nikki: Painting, Illustration
Lindsey Bessanson: Insect Taxidermy, Mixed Media
Jesse Perry: Sculpture
Brian Harrison: Art Jewelry
Jon Nyberg: Wood Sculpture, Art Bars
Banding Hendrix: Spray, Painting

We will be adding some exciting new artists soon so stay tuned to our website and/or Facebook page!

3. You’ve had some fun events there, what was your favorite and why?

Our opening was a real blast. We had worked really hard non-stop for an entire month to make that day happen and all of our favorite people came out to show their love and support and it was just an amazing start. It really gave me faith that what we were starting was going to resonate with people. Since then we’ve had a lot of wacky events, including a No-Pants Dance, a :WumpscART: festival, some really wild openings and plenty of good times with amazing people. I do have to say that we are really excited about our 1-Year Anniversary Celebration, which is just going to be amazing. It will take place on Friday, October 23, 2011. We are currently booking the music and performance groups, but we will have more info on it soon! It will be our biggest celebration/opening ever and coincide with the 3rd Friday festivities of the Roosevelt Arts District, which the gallery is in.

4. How long have you been an artist?

That is an interesting question. I have been creating all of my life. My parents were very supportive of my interests in drawing, painting and general creative endeavors, except during my home-made crossbow phase and my lesbian porn illustration phase. Those they were a little too religious and/or safety-conscious for. Professionally, I have been a working artist for almost 4 years now. I’ve only been out of the starving artist portion for about 6 months now. So it’s been a progression. I am incredibly thankful to all of my collectors and patrons for supporting my work and allowing me to continue to create. I try to never forget that it is these people who allow me to do what I do and I should always keep them in mind. That’s a big reason I am such a believer in making my art available to everyone.

5. What memorable responses have you had to your work?

One of my favorite things to hear when people walk through Galeria de los Muertos is that they “Want everything here”. We try really hard to put together a good group of developed artists with a signature style and dark edge. We also push our artists to be innovative and strive for better and better works. So we are constantly sharing new techniques, mediums, ideas and processes so that each of us continue to grow. So hearing that is a confirmation that everything we are working for is bearing fruit.

6. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to?

Oh, wow. I’m going to pretend I’m too modest to answer this question, then I’m going to answer it anyhow. My dream is to one day have a building with a Warhol-ish Factory. So it would be awesome to be compared to Andy in that aspect. I’m a huge fan of El Moises. His work is incredible on so many levels. His style, voice and technical skill are a huge inspiration to me. He is also just an incredibly humble and thoughtful man. To finally achieve his level of finesse would be sublime. And third would be Liz McGrath. She is just so skilled in so many creative aspects – from sculpture to painting to illustration and more. Her aesthetic and works are just awe-inspiring. Plus she is beautiful, has an amazing voice and is also kind and humble. So those are a few of the artists I idolize.

7. Whats next for the Galeria de los Muertos?

Well, right now we are working on revamping our website. It will (hopefully soon) have artist bios, a store where you can order any of our prints in various sizes and more info in general. We also have a lot of great openings through the rest of the year.

“Sins”, running now through Sept 13, 2011
“We Are the Fiend Club”, opening Friday, Sept 16 and running through Oct 18, 2011
“Dia de los Muertos”, opening Friday, Oct 21 and running through Nov 15, 2011
This will also be our 1-Year Anniversary Celebration!
“Conquest”, opening Friday, Nov 18 and running through Dec 13, 2011
“Something Wicked This Way Comes”, opening Friday, Dec 16, 2011 and running through Jan 17, 2012

8. Are there any links you care to share?

Galeria de los Muertos:

website – www.galeriadelosmuertos.org
facebook – http://www.facebook.com/GaleriaDeLosMuertos

El Vaquero Muerto:

website – www.elvaqueromuerto.com
facebook – http://www.facebook.com/ElVaqueroMuertoArt