100 Colorado Creatives: Jerry Vigil
#23: Jerry Vigil
Colorado's robust Chicano arts community is well-known for both preserving and repackaging cultural traditions in modern contexts. It's a part of our regional history, after all -- a history that runs 500 years deep, from a time long before the Mile High City was even a speck on the map -- and it's beautiful, as well: joyfully folkloric, colorful and spiritual. And Jerry Vigil, a Colorado santero and muertos scholar now living in Colorado Springs, is more than a poster boy for this vein of art. Rather, under the moniker of Team Muertos, he's an innovator with a sharp sense of humor, whose museum-worthy Dia de los Muertos figures take on modern angles and tones...while making us laugh, a valuable gift. We asked Vigil to bring his culture to the table in a 100CC questionnaire.
See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Tony Garcia
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
That's a tough one, scientifically, artistically and design-wise, I would love to collaborate with Leonardo Da Vinci. Running neck and neck with Da Vinci, I would find it challenging and rewarding were I able to work with Bob Cassilly, the creative brain trust behind the City Museum in St. Louis! That place is a mecca of imagination! If you have not heard of the City Museum, it is well worth the time to check out the many videos on YouTube, or actually go there.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
There are a few people out there beyond the walls that interest me. Director Ridley Scott, and sculptor Ray Villafane, but I find the new Pope to be very interesting. Dragging the church into the 21st century is no small thing! It would be a fascinating thing to be in charge of all that priceless art, too!
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I don't think I can answer that question. Art, for most, is a wonderful creative process. We then offer our art up for public consumption. Somewhere in the public consumption, the media exposure and marketing art trends are created and then emulated. The work, of course, has to be good and second, unique, to have a chance. Do I think some stuff out there isn't noteworthy? Yes, but if you know what's crap, you have the bottom of the spectrum to judge the good stuff from. Besides, you can really piss some people off when you say how lame Cristo's stuff is. (You like how I worked that in anyway, huh?)
What's your day job?
Actually that would be "night job." My day job is caring for my little and not so little ones. For my night job, I work at the hospital with the busiest ER, with a few nights' work in the emergency department. A challenge when it comes to carving out time to work on art.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would, of course, make sure my family was taken care of, and then I would construct a huge open facility, fill it with all the tools, machines and gadgets around (much like a "Techshop") and work spaces. I would open it to my artist friends, give them access to the best tools and tech, and then spend the rest of my life creating and collaborating. We would create the next few art trends!
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
One thing that Denver and Colorado can do to help the arts is to promote our art nationally! We are not the West Coast or the East Coast -- we are our own, unique hub and collective! Only when one of the Tier I institutions has a major event going on does Denver rally to promote beyond the state. Come on now: if Austin, Texas can market itself as the Capitol of Weird (and host SXSW), Denver can put itself on the map. Unfortunately, I think our claim to fame is the weed thing now, so that shoots any serious attempts out of the water! From "Cow Town" to "Weed Town," jeez.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Another question I couldn't answer! The list of my favorites is so very long that I could not single one out to be my favorite! I have been helped, cheered on by and supported by so many in the community, it would be impossible! I could say my community of artists is my favorite.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I plan on making a few higher end pieces, just to stay in the game. Where I am at now doesn't have the same population as Denver, so the interests are different. Trying to find a place in this market is always on my agenda. Perhaps rally the artistic Gente in the Springs?
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?
I am not sure who will get noticed, but a couple of people who I hope will get noticed are Rob Yancey, with his eclectic assault on the art world, and Santiego Jaramillo, with his crew of muralists/indigenous/tattoo bandits. Both are out in the community and add an extra layer to the diverse art scene. Learn more about Jerry Vigil online.
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Denver art and theater scene.