We had the good fortune of connecting with Raymundo Munoz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Raymundo, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
The non-profit I work with benefits the Denver community in various ways. Alto Gallery (now located at the RiNo ArtPark alongside Redline’s new satellite studios) provides a supportive space for emerging and established contemporary artists (and musicians) to display and sell work and connect with new collectors, clients, curators, and collaborators. We also have a private studio space called Zarape Studios that provides affordable spaces to artists in North Denver.

Birdseed Collective is busy beautifying the streets as well with many vibrant public mural projects that provide employment opportunities and mentorships to young artists and at-risk youths.

We run and provide programming for the Globeville Rec Center, addressing many needs of the underserved and under-resourced BIPOC Globeville-Elyria-Swansea community. We provide a free food distribution program every Monday all year to local residents. Much of what we provide is locally sourced, fresh organic produce and healthy food staples. We provide after school time with snacks for local kids, where they can hang out, do homework, and engage in fun activities in a safe space. We run free arts education programs that enlist generous artists, musicians, and creators to share their skills and experience with the newest generation. In addition, we have a gym/events space there that’s used for everything from basketball games and rollerskating to Aztec dancing and community meetings.

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.
Most of the art I’ve shown in recent years has been linocut printmaking. It’s a simple and beautiful medium that you can do a lot with. Lately I’ve been playing around with art zines, collaging, and modular compositions – all based on linocut prints. In general, I love the reproducibility and affordability of printmaking. I love that each print is essentially an original piece because no print ever comes out exactly the same. I love the tangibility of it: feeling the texture of the paper in your hands, smelling the ink, the subtle way the oils in the ink shine in sunlight. As many times as I’ve done it, everytime I pull a print for the first time, it’s like magic for me – I’m always surprised that it works. And the biggest linocut lesson: if you can carve it, you can print it!

My compositional process usually starts with photography. It helps me see the world in a manageable way and helps me see how things relate. In general, I tend to work well with limitations – working within a defined framework, given rules and conditions, seeing how much you can extract, how much you can push, and then break a rule here or there – is more appealing to me than having every medium and technique available. There is infinity in the bounds, if you have the right mindset.

Also, much of the work I do is experimental. Oftentimes I work automatically, simply connecting different elements without any real aim or understanding of what I’m doing (reflection comes later). I consider art-making a thinking process. Instead of creating connections between neurons in my brain, connections are being made in physical form through various manipulations of technique and media. If I’m doing it right, it feels like deja vu, or like I’m an archaeologist digging up some ancient object that has existed long before me.

Art has always appealed to and come naturally to me – it runs in my family, thankfully. That said, there are struggles. You never know if people will connect with your work until you show it. It’s a courageous act to put your ideas, feelings, and skills on display for people to scrutinize, critique, and ultimately ascribe value to. Being a quiet introvert can make the process even harder. The art business, though, is a social one, and artists that know how to navigate their way through galleries, collectives, cliques, and collectors tend to do much better. I can slide into hermit mode quite easily and comfortably, but I know it does me little good. So, I force myself to be social by hosting exhibitions, checking out art shows around town, doing studio visits, and inviting people to my own studio. It’s exhausting, but I’m a better artist and a stronger person because of it.

Creative block is a concern for any artist, and I’m no exception. I go through phases of intense creativity and productivity and near-complete lack of confidence and motivation to keep moving. Moving, though, is key. Keeping idea journals/sketchbooks helps out a lot when you’re dry. Or taking a short trip to a new place. Or visiting another maker’s studio space. Hiking in the mountains or running in the park. Whatever you can do to get yourself out of the chill and consume cycle and back into the creative flow.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Denver is a great place to visit with lots to do and much to see, depending on what you’re into. Given my involvement with the Denver art scene, I would lean heavily on the spaces that are nearest and dearest to me. We’d spend a day in the north side, checking out Alto Gallery (of course), Dateline, and Redline, and we’d do a walking tour of some of the amazing mural work throughout the RiNo. Probably enjoy a pint or two along the way at one of the many fine craft breweries, including Great Divide and Ratio. Spread out over a couple days, there’s lots to see in the Golden Triangle – the newly renovated DAM, Clifford Still Museum, and Kirkland Museum to name a few. Maybe take a short drive down to Leon Gallery too. And if they’re up for it, a few hours at the new Meow Wolf.

While we’re in town, a sports event could be fun too. Something casual like a day game at Coors Field. Local live music is a must, and I prefer the little intimate joints on Colfax like the Bluebird or the Ogden. Likely stop by Atomic Cowboy/Fat Sully’s down the street for a couple slices. On the other hand, a concert at Red Rocks would be fun and beautiful. It’s a magical venue you gotta experience at least once.

Outside of events and indoor spaces are, of course, the outdoors, and Colorado has plenty of that thankfully. In town, a long walk around Washington Park is always beautiful with its huge trees and lakes and geese. Follow that up with a short drive down to Pablo’s Coffee on 6th for some good brew, nice folks, and some sweet art finds. A short trip to Boulder is a given. I’d take my friend on a hike starting near NCAR and climb one of the peaks or a couple of the Flat Irons. Then a walk through Boulder’s Pearl Street to check out the shops and street performers. And if they wanted to venture farther, a day trip to Estes Park is a good bet for spotting elk and other wildlife, not to mention gorgeous views of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Being deeply involved in the Denver art scene for the past ten or so years has yielded no shortage of brilliant, inspiring friends and collaborators. At the top of the list, though, is definitely my Birdseed Collective family led by Anthony Garcia, Sr. Working within this organization has encouraged my growth as an artist through critical feedback, collaborations, and opportunities to show work. More so, though, within this group, I’ve been able to develop skills and expand my network in ways that go beyond making and showing art. For instance, starting and running an art gallery (Birdseed’s Alto Gallery) was never on my list of goals or possibilities. I love it, though, and it connects me to the community in beautiful and inspiring ways. As well, the work we do through the Globeville Center addresses various community needs through free food distributions, exercise, education, and other culturally-enriching programs.

Art is a bridge, and it connects us across time and space. There are many bridges, though, and Anthony and Birdseed have taught me that.

Website: raymunozart.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/munozraymundo/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.