#43: Raymundo Muñoz
El Paso-born artist Raymundo Muñoz brings a can-do attitude to the Denver arts community, not only as a self-taught draftsman and block printer, but also in a series of interrelated roles: as co-curator at Alto Gallery, board president of the arts nonprofit Birdseed Collective, and editor of the Denver-centric online visual-arts review 1of1 Magazine. Wherever he’s putting his energy at any given moment, for Muñoz, it’s all about bringing people together through art. Here are his no-nonsense answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Raymundo Muñoz: I've had the incredible fortune of collaborating with many good and inspiring artists and musicians over the years. I've made comic books in elementary school; tapes and tapes of awful (but sometimes good) "alternative" music (with the cheapest p.o.s. instruments and recording devices — e.g., a Teddy Ruxpin doll/portable friend and recording studio) throughout middle and high school; a bunch of weird, pretentious electronic music (recorded in study hall during finals weeks) throughout college; and more recently run an online publication, put art shows together and helped found an art gallery. Although I've gone it alone at times, most of that output is thanks to other creatives and their brilliant contributions. I have my heroes in history, of course, but I don't see the point in focusing on them. They all had their friends — just people they hung out with, and maybe sometimes, you know, defined an entire genre of music or art between a few pints or bottles of wine. Why can't I do the same with my own homies? I'm a huge advocate of working with what you've got, and I believe we all have far more in us than we believe. We just gotta put the work in.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Everyone is interesting. We all have such great and aching stories. People go through terrible events in their lives but somehow don't break. And sometimes the most caustic people can reveal a kind and gentle nature — almost elegant — that is luckily revealed to you. Just when you think you have them figured out, people surprise you. Always. And what's more interesting than that? Oh, wait. Elon Musk...yeah, that dude. Because who else can get us to Mars?
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Slapping gold on everything for no reason. Correction: The reason is that it looks chic, which is fine for design purposes, but beyond that? It's just lazy. It's like plaid in the ’90s (which is not chic, but you know what I'm getting at). Oh, and "sacred geometry." God, get off it already. Learn some actual geometry—there's plenty of beauty in that. And it's way more useful.
What's your day job?
I'm a deli chef at a grocery store. It's easy, the pay is okay, the benefits are good, and I have plenty of time to ponder the great questions of the universe.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Offer it back, and question why someone would choose me and what they would expect. That just sounds too good to be true. I think we all hold infinity within us, and we have access to it. Our capacity to do great and wondrous deeds is boundless. We don't need handouts. But if it was instead a limited but sizable sum, I would dedicate those funds to space exploration. Not colonization. Exploration.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas: good food, beautiful sunsets, little diversity, hot as hell, no vegetation (other than sharp, mean-looking plants). Had I stayed there, I would have nudged out a nice corner somewhere with a family and a decent job, doing Southwestern art (if that), and it would have been okay. But I enjoy trees and grass and fresh mountain air and actual seasons. Denver is a big little city, too, which affords it much of the culture and many of the innovations of bigger cities. But it's small enough that you can bug out when you want, easy and quick-like.
What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?
Just buy local art, folks. It's that easy. Artists don't need subsidies; they need sales. We're a hardworking bunch (you have to be if you wanna eke out a living in this industry). Generally, we're chill as heck, hate starting beef and we want to beautify your lives (or walls, at the very least). Maybe spend a couple bills less on alcohol and weed and all-around bland escapism that lasts a couple of hours (and maybe a few court dates) and instead put them toward something that can add richness and depth to the rest of your own life and then be passed on to your kids and their kids (so they can hawk it in future episodes of Antiques Road Show): Legacy relies on record, and art is a record.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Gosh, there are so many. All my Birdseed Collective crew, of course: Anthony Garcia, Carla Padilla, Thad Mighell, Victor Escobedo, Olivia McLean, Thomas Scharfenberg and Christa Pistoli. They've all put a ton of work into creating something out of nothing, and that's what it's all about. Shameless plug aside, though, as far as artists go: s.legg (brilliant and poignant sculptures and installations, fascinating), Daisy Patton (so good on so many levels and so supportive of the community), Travis Sturm aka Orchid Z3RO (weirdo who is perfectly fine with setting up a video installation over two nights that almost nobody sees just because it's cool), Daniel Crosier (a scatalogical Renaissance man) and Vinni Alfonso (deep, dark, honest work that's unfolding uncomfortably before our eyes). As far as gallerists go: Cayce Goldberg (super-smart, professional, informed and well ahead of the curve in so many ways — give him a few years, he'll be writing policy), the Erics at Leon (so passionate, so dedicated) and Scott and Myah Bailey of Sally Centigrade (who do so much with such a small space all while treating everyone like kings).
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
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Keep taking on projects I have no time for, but finding time for them. I really gotta get that first issue of 1of1 Magazine out... (To those who know or care, sorry. Working on it.) Help grow Birdseed Collective and help define and cement Alto Gallery's role in the local art scene. Find and develop talent. Teach what I know. Quit my day job. Make some art and music. Be good to people.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
Odessa Denver's Kristopher Michael Wright and Corianne Wells. They're walking miles, putting in some hours. Kinda wish they were on our team, but we still got love for them and wanna see them succeed.
See work by Raymundo Muñoz in the Open Press Holiday Show, through December 17, and in Rush Before the Reaping: Meredith Feniak, Michael Dowling & Raymundo Munoz, at Alto Gallery through January 6. Learn more about Raymundo Muñoz at his website and on Instagram.