We had the good fortune of connecting with George P Perez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi George, why did you pursue a creative career?
It was just something out of interest at first and with no emphasis to make it a career. It just made more and more sense as I continued to practice in the endeavors of asking more questions around and why things are the way they are. I wanted to learn more and keep pushing insight into what I was looking at or trying to learn from. You know, after finishing High school I traveled a little bit. Went to NY, California and Arizona on some road trips with some friends and just wanted to explore and see new locations outside of Colorado. Afterwards and a little older with no direction I decided to continue on in some artistic practice but didn’t know what exactly through community college. I left with an Arts and Sciences Certificate and continued on at The University of Colorado Boulder in the Art and Art History program entering in 2011.
I was always curious in the sciences growing up and I thought I would pursue a path in either physics or chemistry. As I progressed in the few arts program and much needed foundation classes in community college I later learned the connection of these sciences to photography. Analog photography, alternative processes, and digital photography are a creative combo of the two. Photography was an entry point for me to the arts but I was internally pushing and wanted to be a painter. I continued in the arts program at CU Boulder and applied to both BFA in painting and photography and figured I try my hand in both or see which of the two would take me in. I ended up in photography, hahah. I wasn’t disappointed in the choice in the least and I ran with it. Even just being in the BFA program had me engaging with all departments, grads, undergrads and professors like Melanie Walker, Alvin Gregorio, Richard Saxton, and Frances Charteris that had significant influences. The program and conversations opened a world of questions and it continued to scratch a unsatisfied itch in my curiosity. There was more than just concentrating on the process or craft of the medium. Images in photography and outside of it are part of a dialogue that we are in consistent conversation with. Thats where the persuasion and continual interest comes from, the constant flux and deciphering of the photo visual language.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My artistic influences come from a combination of my upbringing, play, and the nuances in the mundane that I find in my adult life now. I came from a modest low to medium income family that immigrated from Leon, Guanajuato, MX. I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s and born then in the relatively small city during the early small developments of trailer parks of Boulder, CO. It was a special time filled with a positive community with kid gatherings, spaces to roam, all within a family active community. It was easier for my distant family to travel and they would visit all the time. Though, still a demographically Caucasian American community, aspects of my identity where in question or unrealized. Not at all bleak and culturally new traditions were combined with my Mexican heritage background. I kind of navigate my work trying to find connections that are maybe over looked in the world. You know, I look at the general proactive practice of photography in itself in the world to be a common gesture. Everybody when the given opportunity will genuinely produce images with whatever device they have around them. This gesture to hold onto and cherish is a very special moment and its beautifully simple.
After finishing my undergrad I started to come across images in antique shops and later in bigger cities more and more often and started to wonder, what is going to happen to ALL these images? it made me reflect on my personal family archive of images and how little the amount is and questioned what will hill happen to them when my family or I are gone. I looked at it with a historical lens and found there’s a giant gap in vernacular photography with these mundane, amateur, and OVER abundant imagery. So I started collecting… a few photos here, a few bags there, and a giant tub worth later. I wanted to start creating conversations with what information was captured and presented. To create more with less or with what was given in those images. At first, I would tear out individuals from the image to emphasized the aspect of person in place and created a giant 80ft installation of the torn images. I then moved to simply combining, tearing and grafting images to look at interior spaces differently. I now have moved and started looking at rearranging these images either at a micro and macro level with tessellating shapes. They come acute to weaving but is very for removed in that process and comes closer to collage.
As for big accomplishments and career stuff Ive moved quickly in the region, up and down the Front Range, going through the Artist in Residence program at Redline Contemporary Art Center in 2014, worked with Platteforum as a Mentor Artist Resident shortly after, did an Artists in Residence at the Denver Children’s Museum and awarded the Octopus Initiative Grant in 2018. I’m now making a big move and heading out to the Mid west to pursue a Masters of Fine Art at Cranbrook Academy of Art this 2021 Fall.
Was it easy? What?! Man, of course not. I feel like I was constantly learning how to navigate a profession that has a lot of unpaved trails, and I have done a lot in between. Also, I’m not a brand, my story is similar to a lot of individuals out there, and I hope that those similarities are connecting somewhere in our conversations culturally. There are a lot of pipelines but I think that was the hardest challenge to realize, there’s no right or wrong way of pursuing your career and there’s so many avenues to take it and make it happen. Of course though, I started out with traditional fine art outlets and moved from there. Art or being creative is an everyday practice and its consistently changing.
You should apply yourself and continue to apply but make sure that you do your research! If that means to different opportunities or applying yourself in your work. Ive racked up a nice handful of people or organizations that have said yes to me but have way more no’s in comparison. Those yes’s though, Ive run with 100% and have opened up more opportunities that I have been able to pick and choose from. Also, being in this supportive community early on really made a world of difference. Find your community and genuinely help strengthen it. I’m hoping my efforts as a later artist in the scene are helping the up and comers as it once helped me coming into Denver and to the scene.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, haha, All my best friends or friends expect for a few have moved away and are either on the east or west coasts. I’m so bad with traveling now, But for people coming new to the region- If it was summer time I feel like we would do more things in the mountains or close to Boulder. oh, go to Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, its the original and not the chain, won’t disappoint. In the Summer time the city is quiet and free from all the college students that are coming out of state. Freezing cold water creeks with picnics and a few easy hiking trails. Going to the the ski resorts in the summer is great also, just the drive up is pretty special. George Town is cool, oh probs go to Black Hawk or central City to throw a couple gambling bucks around. In Denver the scene doesn’t change too much durning the hot or cold months. Give a driving tour of Colfax Ave, which is the longest commercial street in the states, Def hit up CartDriver on Larimer and some others like Barcelona up the street. We’d Hit up the breweries on the weekdays and have some potluck style dinners with friends of friends. I would make it huge effort to check out Redline, Dateline, Platteforum, and the MCA. I would also give my tour of my fav Mexican restaurants in the Denver metro area. Pericos Tacos Truck and TORTAS ATM. Oh finally, go out east into the plains to get a view of M12’s, “Last Chance Module Array” to leave them thinking about the plains.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh geez, Theres too many! I can’t just spot light a few… I mean, everyone up to this point in my life I’ve had some sort of genuine interaction, impact and deserve recognition. I would say all the professors and mentors I had at CU Boulder since the beginning, each department and the arts program doesn’t get enough attention in the western region, please check out their program if you’re considering the arts. All the artists during my time at Redline and after still, but big shoutout to the beautiful people that keep the organization going. A shout out the small photo community making a name in the area and Colorado Photographic Arts Center. My messy and like minded studio mate John Lake, The Temple Contemporary Artist Haven and artists, Platteforum, the continuous support from MCA Denver, Octopus Initiative, all the artist working in the rural and M12, Colorado Springs and the scene there. The Five points Neighborhood, Dateline Gallery (corner and garden), BlackCube, Rule Gallery, Georgia, Arthye and the Colorado archives, Colorado Clay Club Friend Of A Friend Gallery , the current faculty at RMCAD for giving me the opportunity to teach/mentor, UnionHall for opening up more opportunities for emerging artists, New Collection. The people making moves outside of Denver that have a connection here and spreading out to new networks. The Curators and organizers in arts education giving a voice to up and coming creatives. Seriously, I urge the audience and readers to look up the names above and check out what these pockets are doing in the arts it’s pretty damn expansive and important here in the region.
oh, a quick shout out to Octopus Initiative with their creative art landing program. I did an interview with them awhile back that goes more in-depth about my practice but check the link below to learn more about participating in being loaned at piece of art for 10 months.
There should be a link below for it and for the others as well.
Also here’s a shout out of books I just grabbed off my shelf that photo centric artist should read or anyone working with images really:
Photographs Not Taken Edited by Will Stacey
Roland Barths Camera Lucida
About Looking John Berger
The Photograph as Contemporary Art
On Photography Susan Sontag
Energy Plan for the Western Man Joseph Beuys in America
How Should a Person Be? Sheila Heti
Courtesy of Artist, Matthew Pevear, Wes Magyar, New Collection