Monday, April 22, 2013

Artist Spotlight: ALDO MONTES

If photographer Aldo Montes had to be summed up in a catch phrase it would be "That's what's up!" Not only is it the spirited yet laid-back response I've witnessed Aldo use in many different contexts, it is his general attitude and approach towards life, and the kind of reaction I believe is achieved when viewing his photos and drawings. I had the pleasure of sitting down and asking Aldo Montes some questions about his life and work. 
He has an upcoming solo show Tuesday, May 14th at the Tin Can. His brother DJ Active will be playing some records and POLYPHASE (Brian Ellis) will be performing a live set.

MAGIC BROTHERHOOD: Where did you grow up? Could you tell us a little bit about your background and upbringing?

ALDO MONTES: I grew up and still currently live in Escondido, East Mission and Grape Street! Still living in the same two bedroom apartment since I was born. I'm the youngest of four. I'm first generation born in the U.S. my family moved from Tijuana to Escondido in 1986 because my sister had cystic fibrosis and the hospitals here had treatments to help her. My mom had her tubes tied before I was born, and I still came out somehow.
I don't want to say I live in a rough neighborhood, but I did see a dude get shot when I was 5 in front of my house and the friends that I would hang out with would do some straight up hoodlum shit, but I was too much of a whimp. While they were shoplifting CDs at the K-mart I was at my house playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. I was a weird kid growing up.
In preschool I would get sent home because I would imitate Beavis and Butthead, middle school I would do stupid shit and did really bad in school, and high school I took the same pre-algebra class for four years. I sucked so much, I had my friends do my homework (shout outs to Sebastian, Victor, and Victor's little brother). I feel like at the end of high school I had an appreciation for art. That's when I started making beats, graffiti, and learned about photography thanks to my friends Devin, Cindya, and David.

(Aldo's sister, mom, Aldo, brother)

MB: When/how did you get your start with photography?

AM: At the end of high school my friend Devin was shooting a bunch of photos with his 35mm camera and when he developed them I was like “Oh snap! The way those look is so clear, way different from my parents photos in our albums.” Then my homegirl Cindya and her boyfriend would pick me up from school and she would show me framed photos and really awesome portraits that she had done. She fucked with film, showed me the legit side of photo, but I think it was also the first time I saw a DSLR too so I was tripped out about that too. Also, my friend David and I went to the same community college and would show me his photos he took at the photo lab during our screen printing class, and that got me into taking photos too. I bought my first 35mm Pentax k-1000 for $10. I hated the assignments in school, I just wanted to shoot people, document the things that I'd see on a regular basis. I won second place for the documentary competition at school but didn't get the money because of my poor GPA. Fortunately I got to work at the photo lab for two years as a lab tech and got to work with the chemical processing, maintaining equipment, and learning about the different formats. All of my work is film never, owned a digital camera.

MB: You also draw... would you say there is a parallel or similar subject matter in your drawing and your photo work? If not, what makes it different?

AM: My drawings are totally parallel with my photos. With my drawings, I don't take things as serious or try to make them look as nice. I just want to be straight to the point, make people laugh, or be like, "Why did he draw that?" Most of them stem from inside jokes I have with my friends, just the weird funny shit that pops in my imagination. I feel like I can do whatever I want with my drawings, I don't need to tell a story. It is what it is. If I want to draw a California burrito dressed up like Boy George I can do it, and I would feel great about it.

MB: What inspires you?

AM: My friends, TV, the internet, the devil's lettuce, jokes, rap music, J.O. crystals, fast food, the finest of malt liquors, trying to show people the dopest, saddest, and funny aspects of life… that's what inspires me.
MB: Who are some of your favorite artists?

AM: Oh man... I have so many.

Chaz Boroquez, Mike Giant, Peter Beste, Estevan Oriol, El Mac, Aroe, Grime, Nas, Three Six Mafia, Twist, Mike Judge, Max Ernst, Chuck Close, So Me, Mark Drew, David Choe, Aaron Horkey.  Dang, wish I could put more.

MB: You have an upcoming solo show, titled CHILL HARD, Tuesday May 14th at the Tin Can. First of all, what can you tell us about the name of the show (because I think that's the best name for an art show I've seen in a while), and what can we look forward to seeing in this show?

AM: Thanks! Chill Hard for me is a way of living and it's a big part of my vocabulary… It means taking life for what it is and not stressing about the bullshit. Drink a brew, smoke a grip of blunts and chill hard. JUST CHILL HARD. And for the all of you looking forward to the show expect funny hamburgers drinking 40s, some girl smoking Whitney Houston's ashes, some hood shit, people in their last moments on earth… some really deep shit, and some funny stuff. You gotta have a good balance of both. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone there. and I hope you guys like it.
Thank you for this awesome opportunity, Danica. You're awesome.  

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