Voices of Dubuque: Featuring Douglas Hoekzema, aka HOXXOH, and Amanda Valdes

Calasandra Spray (TheLorian)

Picking up where we left off on our journey to learn about the Voices of Dubuque murals, we will be looking at two artists who started in Miami: Douglas Hoekzema, aka HOXXOH, and Amanda Valdes. 

As human beings, I believe we can all relate to the pull of time. We have watches attached to our wrists that track every movement, every heartbeat, every second. Classes are marked by the minute and so are our jobs. We are told that we should get an hour of exercise every day and eight hours of sleep every night. But what is time? Time is an arbitrary construct that mankind invented and has maintained to document our existence: minute by minute. The ebb and flow of time are assessed and chopped into segments that can be marked down and recorded. 

Muralist HOXXOH centers his art on this very theme. His works are reminiscent of the ’70s with their bold colors and trippy vibes. At the age of 15, HOXXOH began spray painting but he never planned on it being a full-time career. Life had different plans in store for him, though. After graduating from architecture school in 2008, HOXXOH was unable to find employment and began taking painting commissions. Despite his years of spray painting, it was during this period that he developed his marking technique that is his signature in his works. Even though spray painting became his full-time job, HOOXOH still uses his architecture degree. Knowing what comprises a building allows him to incorporate the structures into his murals. In addition, formal schooling gave him the skills to pitch his works and a strong work ethic. 

Today, HOXXOH is based in Miami, Florida, an hour away from his hometown of Boca Raton. He got his start in Miami with a graffiti crew and feels right at home in the growing art scene of the city. 

Dubuque is home to two of his works. One located on 1555 Central Ave is in the same nook as Corbon’s John Coltrane mural. This vibrant 59’ x 27’ piece made me think of Alice’s rabbit hole to Wonderland. Energetic oranges and blues draw you into the fabric of time, or possibly to another universe. You can see how his trademark oscillating pattern is a vivid image of time’s natural push and pull. It makes you wonder why everyone is running around, trying to please a clock when time itself is a beautiful vortex that no man can document. 

His other work is located at 1090 White St. Done in the same color scheme, this mural is differentiated by its back-to-back loops. Due to the reverse pendulums right next to each other, I was reminded of Coraline’s tunnel to her other mother’s house. This mural is particularly fun to visit because of its location in a no-parking zone, making it perfect to snap some photos for Instagram. Both paintings are aptly named “Portal.” Perhaps examining his works will allow everyone to adopt a better appreciation of time as we begin preparing for finals. 

Dubuque is home to a mural from another Miami-based artist. Amanda Valdes is a Miami native who put on her first solo exhibition at the age of 18 and went on to study at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. She currently bounces between her home in Florida and Portland Oregon, taking her dog, Ema, with her. 

Valdes’s work features waifish, doll-like women as the main subject to raise awareness of feminine identity. The women depicted are macabre sirens with heavily lashed, doe-like eyes and provocative poses. 

The 91′ x 15′  mural located on the side of Capri College at 398 Main St., Dubuque, features one of her dolls. Sporting a tan and pink complexion, this sensual woman is posed with an arched back and her bubble butt high in the air. Her hair is perfectly styled, and she dawns a skimpy bralette top and butt-hugging panties. Flowers native to Dubuque line a sheer white scarf wrapped around her neck. She is shown cutting her scarf with hair shears. Sidelined at the tail of the mural is a bee. 

A bee symbolizes community, brightness, and personal power. Bees harvest pollen from flowers in order to create honey. By painting a bee with all of the native flora, Valdes’s work suggests the power, community, and vibrancy of women. Her work proposes that women are not dolls but powerful people with voices of their own. 

It has been an inspiration to see these wonderful works of art in our city. Stay tuned for more about the murals of Dubuque. 

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