EXPERIMENTAL ILLUSTRATIONS BY MATTHEW HOUSTON

by Ariadna Zierold

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Mesa, Arizona-based artist Matthew Houston‘s cartooning overflows with experimental and original ideas in form and content. Put another way, it overflows with personality. He uses figures and symbols to express the longing for an unknown past and the pervading rootless confusion of the present. His works are largely improvised, naive, and amount to a frightened man scrawling on a cave wall, creating a refuge from modernity in imagined shibboleths.

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El Mac’s New Mural and Aerosol Art Show in Mesa, AZ

Miles “El Mac” MacGregor was commissioned to paint a two story mural at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona in honor of the museum’s 10th anniversary.
photo credit: Lynn TrimbleEl Mac’s second mural in Arizona is devoted to longtime friends, Karen and Ariel Bracamonte who are expecting their first child May 11th. Mac will be their son’s godfather. The expected birth of the child comes two days before the May 13th opening of his show also featured at the museum,
“EL MAC: Aerosol Exalted.”
The 35 foot mural portrays Karen Bracamonte looking down upon a red rose held between her hands. The artwork surrounding the top portion of Karen’s head was painted by local Mesa tattoo and graffiti artist, Mando Rascon. In standard El Mac fashion, the mural is more than just a beautiful image of a woman, it represents the deeper layers of humanity found in Karen, who immigrated from Guatemala 10 years ago, and in recurring issues of immigration in the US, and Arizona in particular. “I painted an image of an immigrant who’s participating here and adopting aspects of American culture,” says El Mac.  Staying true to his roots, in 2015, Mac traveled to Cambodia with artist, David Choe’s foundation “Igloo Hong” where his mural of a local seamstress who hand makes traditional Cambodian tapestries, caused controversy and immediate removal by the Cambodian government. Though the mural was painted over quickly afterwards, the image and symbolism made an impact on Cambodian citizens demanding the freedom of artistic expression.
The portraits of Aerosol Exalted stay true to Mac’s intention and unique graffiti style of providing a voice to people and places often silenced or ignored. The show inside the museum, Aerosol Exalted, features the artist’s latest body of work that originated at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 2015. 

EL MAC: Aerosol Exalted

“It’s all about love. And Phoenix needs all the love it can get.”