Artists showcase creativity at Dubuque exhibit

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The “Voices 11” exhibit is all about street art this year. Upon arrival, visitors walked around the gallery to look at the art, as one does at an art gallery. Attendees read the descriptions about the artist and their artwork, and took that information into account as they made their own observations. There were seven featured artists, who were on hand to discuss their process and ideas.

Mario Gonzales Jr., or how he’s known by his art, “ZORE,” gave some insight into the graffiti world. His parents were graffitists and he started taking his work seriously when he was a teenager.

“It’s all about letters, and the evolution of letters. I use it in all of my work,” Gonzales Jr. explained, offering insight into some of his techniques. He also explained that he stays true to his style and does not change his art to please the masses.

“I’ve been very successful with my work and have had the opportunity to travel showcasing it. I’ve lived my whole life off graffiti,” he said.

He and another artist, known as PYRE, were painting some art, live, on the side of a semi-trailer, and PYRE was available for discussion as well.

Beau Thomas got his name for graffiti by flipping through a dictionary. His finger landed on “PYRE” and he liked the shape of the letters, and so made it his name. Alternative names are generally used in graffiti because of its controversial nature. Thomas became involved in graffiti through skateboarding. He likes the individuality of both. He also said that graffiti is all about lettering and that it is essentially “elaborate signatures.”

“It is an act of love, not hate. We [artists] paint trains and bridges, we just want to make areas beautiful in mundane places,” PYRE said.

With all this talk about the importance of letters, a second look around the gallery reveals their renewed significance in the pieces. ZORE and PYRE were right; almost all of the pieces had lettering in them. This was something many visitors overlooked during an initial view, but after a crash course in graffiti from two talented artists, many were able to pick up the common themes on a second go-around.

There were various different types of street art at the exhibit as well. One artist painted portraits, which typically aren’t seen in the graffiti world, but he blended the two styles together to create dynamic pieces.

The exhibit overall had many different styles of graffiti and street art, with artists from all backgrounds, but they all had one thing in common: they are doing their part to beautify the world.

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