Rob Perez and his partners, Anthony Trinidad and Steve Balser, are the brains and brushes behind ArtSlam!, a bi-monthly event that invites local visual artists to create work based around a common theme while local bands and D.J.’s fuel their creativity. Those themes quite often center around sf, fantasy and horror — zombies, superheroes and Star Wars, for example, have provided inspiration for past ArtSlam! events.
Long impressed with ArtSLam!’s diverse crowds and continued success — the event recently celebrated its five-year anniversary — we asked Rob to fill us in on how he’s kept the event rolling and why sf, fantasy and horror continue to inspire its participants.
The next ArtSlam! takes place Saturday, Sept. 24, at the White Rabbit, 2410 N. St. Mary’s. Forty artists are expected to create works based around the theme of Martial Arts. Education and The Hawks of Holy Rosary Great will provide musical entertainment, and DJ Louie Dollars will provide Wu-Tang Clan karaoke.
How did ArtSlam! Get started? How many have you held so far?
I am a big comic geek. Back in 2005 I went to Wizard World in Dallas and met two of my favorite artists, Jim Mahfood and Dave Crosland. After the con I went to their live art after party at some nearby bar. It was the first time I had ever seen art as entertainment! I knew at that moment that I needed to start something like this in San Antonio. At the time, I only knew a handful of artists and all were close friends. After a lot of over planning and stress, ARTSLAM! was created. January 26, 2006. We had one DJ and five artists, including me. Maybe 20 people showed up, and it was one of the best nights of my life. On a side note, it was also the first night I kissed my future wife. I have no idea how many shows we have held.
What’s the driving force behind ArtSlam!? What are you hoping to generate by bringing together artists, bands and spectators?
I think the “driving force” really is the artists. We all love getting together to create and learn things from each other. I do my best to make every show a challenge to the artists involved. I basically modeled the show after high school art class! These events have already surpassed my hopes. Its overwhelming to me that the San Antonio artistic community would embrace ARTSLAM! this much. It’s really up to them and the spectators as to how far we go with this.
Each ArtSlam! has a theme, and many seem to center around science fiction, fantasy and horror. So far, you’ve had zombies, superheroes, Star Wars, and now martial arts. What’s the appeal of these genres?
We try to use themes that the artists, bands and spectators can really get excited about. For that one night, we do our best to bring these themes to life, and give you a chance to take some of that home with you by having all the art created that night up for silent auction!
What’s been your most-successful ArtSlam!?
So far, without a doubt, our five-year anniversary show. I was able to fly in my two biggest inspirations for the event (and my art) Jim Mahfood and Dave Crosland! It will be extremely hard for us to top the energy and excitement of that show, but we will continue to try.
Speaking of your five-year anniversary, what’s the secret to the longevity?
The first two years of the event were extremely fun and a learning experience. I was doing all the booking, planning, fliers, gathering of artists, everything myself. Then I ran into Anthony Trinidad of Drunken Monkey Promotions and he jumped on to help me book new bands and venues for the show. That was a huge boost for the show because I was able to concentrate on other aspects of the event. Then, about a year later, Steve Balser (Scuba Gooding Sr.) joined, and the trinity was complete! The show thrived and survived because it was fueled by three determined and creative people who really believed in this event. I had always told myself that as long as people wanted to paint live or see live art, they would keep us going.
San Antonio has a growing rep as a visual art town. What do you think it’s doing right and wrong as it builds its art scene?
I have seen many different types of live art shows come and go over the years. It’s great because it give artists more opportunity to show their skills other then just art an ARTSLAM!. I believe, as an artist, you have to take almost every chance you can get to display your art in public. I say almost because some times you know that a particular show may not be worth your time. San Antonio is defiantly heading in the right direction. One thing I would like to see is more different types of live art style shows. Instead of rehashing what others are doing or have done, why not a collaborated art battle, or a vinyl toy art party, something new?
Who are some of the bands and musicians that have graced your stage over the years? What’s the importance of having music as a component to the event?
There have been hundreds of local bands and DJs that have participated in our shows over the years, all of them great. One band that sticks out in my mind is Wholesale Piracy. The lead singer of the band has been painting in ARTSLAM! since day one. His band officially broke up years ago, but they play only one show a year and it’s at ARTSLAM! That’s always a treat. Music is a natural addition to the events. I like to jam some tunes while I paint, so it was only fitting to have live music helping inspire the artists throughout the night. It’s a perfect marriage of two types of art!
If you could have any three bands play your next ArtSlam! who would they be?
Well only because the next theme is Martial Arts, I thought it would have been cool to have Peelander Z play! Another band that I liked growing up was Audio Karate, that would have been a perfect fit. Or of course the Wu-Tang Clan would have killed it, but the next best thing is we’re having Wu-Tang karaoke at the show from Louie Dollars! We will also be giving away a free limited edition Martial ARTSLAM! shirt to people who participate in the karaoke. It’s going to be nuts!
Thanks for doing the interview. To close it out, what are your five favorite sf, fantasy and/or horror comics, novels and movies?
My five comics would be The Walking Dead, Transmetropolitan, Y the Last Man, The Preacher and Sin City.
My five movies are They Live, Evil Dead 1 and 2, Star Wars, Ghostbusters and Back to the Future.