On a typical hot El Paso afternoon, Cristian and Ramón Cardenas, a pair of local artists better known as Los Dos, were retouching their mural at Father Rahm Street. They are drawn to the downtown area as a location for their work, because it has the most foot traffic in the city allowing some kind of involvement.
For Los Dos, having their work on the street is important because it makes it available for more people and it also changes the conversation about the city’s landscape; having a work that is accessible to everyone is a priority for both the artist and the viewer.
“I guess, it lets everyone have a saying, an opinion, on what’s going on, because in a lot of our work we try to reflect the people itself, and hopefully they relate somehow,” said Ramon.
Cristian explains that in their art they try to represent the everyday people that push the world on: “everyday people that are not represented in a museum or in art generally usually don’t make it into those settings.”
They remember one of their early art intervention (a form of mural that interacts with the viewer), Carnicero being in Blanket Building, which was demolished. This makes street art temporal and only available for a while.
“At the same time it’s kind of cool ‘cause it brings kind of a mystery. It’s like a mysterious quality to the work. If you didn’t see it then you’re not gonna see it again. It’s kind of cool in a punk rock way,” said Cristian.
The corner of 4th Avenue and Oregon Street is the home of another one of their interventions, a mural of a boy holding a box stands in front of Sacred Heart Church, like the many people that gather outside after mass selling goods or passing pamphlets.
Cristian recounted a story of a time they went to the printing center Kinkos. A little girl and her mom walk in and look at an illustration of an old man they were printing. “And she says ‘Mira mamá, Tata!’ And that’s what we were saying. The characters are specific but very general at the same time, so people can relate to them in a way that it can be anyone,” said Cristian.
Los Dos invite you to appreciate your surroundings. The carnicero in your block, the señora de la tiendita, “stuff like that that is part of your everyday life and it’s important, but we never really pay attention to it and celebrate it or say that, you know, it’s cool to have this one person in my neighborhood activating the economy in a way that is independent from Walmart,” said Cristian.
Part of their inspiration comes from these images of the city that you wouldn’t see as art. “You can see the technique of the artist, the color preference, like a lot of different things that is lowbrow. It does have to do with expressing cultural flavor.”
– By Veronica Martinez