Although today he's known primarily as an Internet artist, Denver's Mario Zoots will return to his "physical art" roots with a feature show in Mexico City that opens this week. After making a name for himself in the international art community -- showing net-based works in Germany, Italy, Amsterdam and Brazil -- Zoots will head to Mexico Thursday on a six-day venture that includes two art shows and one DJ set. "I'm meeting up with all these artists and curators whom I've only known through the Internet," says Zoots, "but they all know my work."
"I'll be showing at the Preteen Gallery in Mexico City," continues Zoots. "It's run by this guy Gerardo, who's this big twitter personality who tweets a lot about his homosexuality and meth use. The gallery is a big white cube; one room with four white walls, with florescent lights at the top. And it's fucking bright. Every show that Gerardo hosts there is only four pieces, one for each wall."
Zoots's show there is titled I Just Wanna Be as Pretty as I Feel, and the four pieces he'll be showing are made of vintage materials that contrast with his typically tech-drenched creative image. "All of the source material is from 1965-'75. I used the covers of old science fiction paperback books and vintage magazines, which I got from the Denver Book Mall," he says. "I felt bad tearing them up because they're so beautiful; I really love aged things. The pieces are dual in that there's a collage on one side, and then the inside cover of a pulp novel on the other side. I've been trying to go from one extreme to another, going from Internet art that's very modern, using images of Brittany Murphy and Whitney Houston; and now I'm making these older pieces that feel like they could've been made fifty years ago."
In characteristic Zoots fashion, his trip to Mexico is not dedicated just to the one Preteen gallery show. "I'll be DJing at this rave on September 1 at this space called the Negative House," he says. "It's a DIY space a lot like Rhinoceropolis. And then I have a one-day video screening at the Neter gallery; it's an experimental project space for young Mexicans in Mexico City. I'm going to be doing live video mixing during someone else's physical art show. It will be all appropriated images, video and animated GIFs, and I'm going to mix them all together with a mini-controller."
Blending several pieces of art into one conceptual soup is an approach Zoots uses not only with his collages, but also with life in general. A Denver native, Zoots has slowly become one of the most recognizable faces in the city's art scene, as well as in music, video, photography and academic circles. His former band, Modern Witch, became a Denver DIY sensation, and his current electronic trio, Men in Burka, delivered a set so epic at last week's Too Much Funstival event, the members nearly destroyed the sound system.
Zoots will drift buffet-style from music to academic art to street art (which he would rather not discuss, for legal reasons) with the single-mindedness of a man who breathes inspiration. "I am 100 percent: I have to be an artist," he says, which is something you hear often from those who hang out in the creative world. Yet while some of them may put on a show every other month, many will spend far more time talking about art than making it. But it's hard to throw a rock at a local event these days without hitting something with Zoots's name attached to it.
Shortly after Zoots returns from his white-cube adventure in Mexico City, he will begin work on his master's degree in Emergent Digital Practices at the University of Denver. All while juggling regular work with Audio Visual Violence Club (his multi-media art collective), his music, his own local art shows -- and raising an eight-year-old son. "Andy Warhol said that 'art is anything you can get away with,'" says Zoots. "And I like that. I like wearing different hats. Or masks."
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