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Portuguese street artist GonçaloMAR tags Paso Robles 

Riding my bike down Madonna Road toward my house on Oceanaire Court, I always look forward to seeing a familiar face. Not a real face, but a face nonetheless. It's the black and white mug of a mime, deftly spray-painted on a portion of the concrete wall dividing street from river.

click to enlarge FROM THE STREETS:  Energetic Portuguese street artist GonçaloMAR will make his Central Coast debut at Tooth & Nail Winery in Paso Robles this July 10 through 12. - PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE
  • PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE
  • FROM THE STREETS: Energetic Portuguese street artist GonçaloMAR will make his Central Coast debut at Tooth & Nail Winery in Paso Robles this July 10 through 12.

This image has become part of the scenery, yet always warrants a double take.

At its best, street art jars us, tears us from the comfort of our everyday lives and boring commutes. When a wall becomes a living, breathing work of art, even a stroll down to the corner market can unexpectedly stir the soul. Portuguese street artist GonçaloMAR understands the transformative power of color, the allure of bold design carved out in defiant spray paint. I caught up with the artist via email before his big Central Coast debut at Tooth & Nail Winery July 10 through 12.

—Hayley Thomas

New Times: Tell me about where you live. What is your daily life like?

GM: I live in Portugal, in the south side of Tejo River near Lisbon, so every time I need to go to Lisbon, I must cross the 3-kilometer bridge very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm working as an artist full time, and I'm a father of two great girls that give me all the inspiration that I need.

- A BOLD VISION!:  Portuguese street artist GonçaloMAR will present his Natureza Humana show at Tooth & Nail Winery July 10 through 12 with music on Friday and a live painting demonstration and artist’s reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tooth & Nail Winery is located at Highway 46 West and Anderson Road in Paso Robles. -
  • A BOLD VISION!: Portuguese street artist GonçaloMAR will present his Natureza Humana show at Tooth & Nail Winery July 10 through 12 with music on Friday and a live painting demonstration and artist’s reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tooth & Nail Winery is located at Highway 46 West and Anderson Road in Paso Robles.

New Times: What is your experience with the Central Coast? Why Paso Robles?

GM: My experience with the Central Coast is none. I have a great friend, Brian MacElvaine, that lives in the area. I met him in Portugal while he was shooting some street art pictures, and we became friends.

After a while, we thought it would be great if I tried to show my work in California, and we started to arrange all the conditions to make it possible.

I really enjoy traveling, and California was on my list of destinations to visit. I wanted to do a show in Paso Robles because I think it's a great opportunity for me to show my work in an unusual environment such as a winery; it's a different layer of knowledge. I like to mix with new cultural fields, to be in places that normally I didn't think possible. And I also realize that the place is amazing.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE
  • PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE

New Times: What did you like drawing when you were a kid? What kind of kid were you?

GM: Since I was a kid, I always took a great pleasure in drawing, and I remember old street games, where we would draw stuff in the asphalt, the kind of things that don't exist anymore. I lost interest in the game and just played with the charcoal, drawing characters with big heads and big noses. I had a very good childhood, it was lots of fun, and I was always playing in the streets, no worries. At home, my parents weren't so good, and they got divorced. That took me to a place near the beach where my father lived, and that was my first contact with the Marvel world. It's kind of a long story, but it was when I started to draw more seriously, while looking at those comic books. I was 12 years old and also started to surf in the sea. "Sea" in Portuguese is "MAR." It's one of my big passions, and that is the reason I chose "MAR" to become my artist name. I think I was, and still [am], a very patient and curious person.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE
  • PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE

New Times: When you got older, you went into fashion and animation. What took you into street art? This seems like a wide leap.

GM: Yes, a big leap. First, I was trying to go to the Architect University of Lisbon. I went to the university, but for the fashion design course, and I started to enjoy the fashion world. I liked the future prediction of tendencies; it was very good to understand all the mechanisms. But in the last year of the course, I applied to work in an animation studio in Portugal and worked there for 2 1/2 years. I finished my degree in fashion and worked at the same time. It was in the animation studio—in 1998—"that I met the person that took me to paint some letters in the train lines [train tagging]. From then to now, it has been a crazy journey full of amazing experiences.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE
  • PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE

New Times: You are known for your characters. Tell me about them. What do they represent?

GM: I always want my characters to tell some kind of message, some kind of crazy story. I like to think of my characters piece by piece and connect them in the end. For example, in Lisbon, I created a big mural where you can see the body of Popeye, the legs of Bugs Bunny, and the hands from Batman. I'm always doing something weird. I like to put people in weird situations. The characters represent memories of the time I was growing up, the movies, the people, the comic books, the places. I like to play with forms and colors. Truth, colors that speak to people—mix that with crazy shapes, and you have the secret to my characters.

New Times: What compels you to continue working in this medium? What is the street art scene like where you live?

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE
  • PHOTO BY BRIAN MACELVAINE

GM: I always say that the graffiti/street art/art mural—and all the other definitions that exist—is really the new art movement of the 21st century. We are living in the best time for the street art, not only for us the artists, but also for the people that enjoy art. They don't need to go to a museum, they can just walk around the city and see free art walls made by street artists. Lisbon's a city that embraces this form of art and that gives me a lot of opportunity to do work in big buildings around the city and around the country and Europe. I do this as a living, so I get called a lot of times for commissioned works, as well as for brands and magazines. I do some exhibitions, but I still like to go to the streets and do small pieces. Legal or illegal, it all depends on the places you choose to do it. 

Hayley Thomas is rattling cans at hthomas@newtimesslo.com.

 

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