The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the biggest movie-going days of the year. So when you’re deciding which theater to attend to see “The Road” (or, yeah, the new Twilight movie), consider this; the Bijou at Crossroads Mall has a great art scifi- and horror-themed display in the lobby through the end of the month.
While all of the work is great, and by San Antonio artists, one set in particular stands out — Mike Esparza’s fun, Picasso-influenced superhero portraits are just the sort of thing to make any funnybook geek’s pulse go arrhythmic. We asked Mike about his work…
Missions Unknown: WHAT SORT OF ART DO YOU DO?
Mike Esparza: Portrait style paintings. I try to keep my work recognizable and paint things that relate to film, music or comic books. I feel a lot of people enjoy these types of paintings. Pablo Picasso is a huge influence. I’ve wondered if he was alive today, what would he paint? So this year I created a superhero series with a Picasso twist.
MU: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING IT?
ME: Professionally, roughly 19 years. As far back as I can remember, I drew. Always been in love with it. I constantly drew as a kid. In my late teens and throughout my 20’s I was hired a lot for mural work. Eventually I found myself doing portraits and pop art. Developed a small name for myself with a few gallery shows at 1st Fridays in San Antonio. After that it’s was pretty much “Hey, you wanna show your art here?”. I wanna say that about 60% of my work goes on display each year, and the other 40% is private commissioned work.
MU: WHEN DID THE DISPLAY GO UP AT THE BIJOU? WHEN WILL IT COME DOWN?
ME: The Bijou show is up for the whole month of November. I love showing there. It’s a great place in San Antonio to see indie flicks and view incredible artwork. I’ve been showing my work there since 2003. They invite me to back every year. It’s been a blessing meeting all the wonderful people who love art from showing there.
ME: Currently I live in Houston, but I’m originally from San Antonio. I travel back and forth a lot for shows. Current showing; Bijou Crossroads, and at The Alamo Drafthouse Theaters (Westlakes location).
MU: WHAT ARE YOUR INFLUENCES?
ME: Other artist such as Chuck Close, Warhol, Picasso, Alex Ross, Frank Miller, Robert Crumb, Otto Lange, Eric Joyner, Shawn Barber , and also I’m a big Kevin Smith fan.
MU: MARVEL OR DC?
ME: Tough question. I like some Marvel stuff, but I also like DC’s cartoons and comics. Superfriends is one my all time favorite shows as a kid (no matter how cheesy it is). I’m especially a huge fan of the Superman films, comics and cartoons. He is truly one of my favorite characters to paint. I often trade artwork with other artists for their vision of the Man of Steel. I have a pretty cool nice collection now from some fantastic artists. So if anyone wants to hit me up for some trade just shoot me an email.
So to answer the Marvel vs DC question, I would have to go with the Supe-ster’s home, DC. Sorry Marvel. At least you came in 2nd.
MU: WHO ARE SOME ARTISTS WE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT BUT SHOULD?
ME: There are a few that come to mind. Rachel Esparza (younger sister) whose work also can be seen at the Bijou. Eric Esparza (artist/ photographer), Matthew Esparza (graphic designer/ photographer), Justin Reed (Amazing painter, you can google him), Cecy Correra (documentary film maker), Other painters; Kevin Lopez, Julio Urvina, Ashley Frields and Alfredo and Alex Lopez (illustrators/ painters). The last 5 are artist that are currently showing work at the Bijou.
ME: I’m a big fan of all. Who isn’t? I hardly read anymore. I’m so busy and it’s difficult to find the time. The free time that I manage usually goes towards painting. I’m a fan of Wes Anderson, Kevin Smith, Spike Jonze, Jared Hess and the Cohen Bros movies. Zombie/Horror flicks are pretty fun to watch too. Alex Ross, Frank Miller, and old skool Todd McFarlane comics are also some of my favs.
I keep an open mind and I’m always looking for ideas to paint. I enjoy the process of painting from concept to completion. Most importantly, I’m so glad that I still have the same imagination I had as a kid.