Meet the Artist: J. Gallego

Meet the Artist: J. Gallego

Up at this very moment in the Holland Gallery is a killer exhibit titled Visual Wasting featuring work from two rad artists (and musicians) J. Gallego from Seattle and Jon Kortland, a former Renoite now based in SF. The closing reception is THIS SATURDAY, and we thought we’d ask J. a bit about his work and then implore you to come see it for yourself on Saturday, May 9 from 6-8PM! Both artists will be in attendance.


1. As a musician, how does your music influence your art, or vice versa? How are your creative practices the same, different?

Doing visual art for me directly stemmed from playing music.  I’ve always really enjoyed the visual aspects of being in a band, from making flyers, websites, merch, or designing releases.  I feel like the two have always felt somewhat connected or influenced by each other , even when the visual work I’m making isn’t directly for the band I play in.  Creatively, I’ll notice little similarities between the two, and when I’m writing music I tend to imagine what it would look like visually.

And unless I’m collaborating in a band setting, my creative practices are painfully similar.  “Painfully” because its often me staring into space for a very long time waiting for any remotely interesting idea to come along.  I hate that, but I also kind of like it.  Ugh.

2. Your artist statement mentions this work is about personal transformation through struggle, can you tell us more?

It’s more about the process of discovering an identity you can be confident in.   The pressures to fit specific molds all around us from the minute we begin to exist draw me to the process of pushing back in hopes of finding a comfortable sense of self. It’s a process that seems just as exhausting as it can be rewarding.

3. We LOVE the series of what looks like pink paint or latex with hand imagery, and everyone at Holland has gravitated to them for different reasons.  Can you tell us about making those pieces and what you hope people take away from them?

Thanks, that’s awesome!  That series is called Coming Down Again, and I really only had the idea of wanting something that looked almost playful.  If anyone’s had any sort of reaction toward the series, positive or negative, I’m satisfied.

4. Your statement also mentions an exploration of “minimal surrealism of common life”  – speak on that a bit, maybe relating to one of the pieces in the show?

In the piece Felice, it’s a really simple image of a person putting a wig on.  To me, it’s this bizarre blend of normalcy and fantasy.  The act of putting on a wig can be empowering to many different people for many different reasons.  It can also mean nothing to a lot of people, it can just be this normal, whatever thing.  I really like how a simple act can mean so many different things to different people just based on why they are doing it.

5. Tell us about your blanket pieces, and why you chose the images you did?

That is a direct idea borrowed from Omar Pierce in Reno.  I really wanted these specific images to be huge and stand out, and so when I saw Omar’s work on textile I thought it looked perfect.  So that’s all Omar, he’s amazing.  I thought including mine in this show could be a cool little nod to him and his work.

6. What sorts of things inspire you (in your art making, music making, or just in general)?  

Generally, I just want to make something I’d like to listen to or look at.

7. Tell us about your use of color, especially the bright reds and pinks, we see in your pieces in this show.

I love using color, especially magenta, pinks or anything kind of pretty or loud.  I like trying to make those colors carry an almost unsettling vibe.

8. You’re sharing the gallery with Jon Kortland, another rad musician + artist. Have you crossed paths with Jon before?  What about his work do you dig?

I love Jon, he’s the best, and been friends for a few years now. We’ve gone on tour together, he’s helped put out records for my band, and we share a mild obsession over Stanley Kubrick and Bud Light Lime.  I’ve admired and looked up to his work for a long time, and I love how incredibly focused his work is.  Whenever something of his is in front of me I can’t help but just want to stare at it forever.  I have this t-shirt that he did and I always wonder how weird I must look on the bus or something with my head down, pulling at the front of my shirt, endlessly analyzing the design on it.

9.  What’s your favorite piece in this show, and why?

I haven’t really seen what Jon has contributed, I’m sure it would be something of his or his work in FEEDING.  There isn’t really one of mine that I favor. I like ‘em all.

10. Do you have a Reno story you’d like to share?

Umm, Nothing that crazy comes to mind.  I use to not really like Reno, but then I kept meeting amazing people from Reno.  That helped change my mind and now I really like it.  I feel like one time something weird happened with juggalos, but I can’t remember the specifics…  Oh! One time we saw Joe Pesci downtown filming a scene for a movie, and the people we were with kept yelling “Harry, where’s Marv?!”  I thought that was pretty funny.

Yeah, that’s all it takes to make a great memory for me, I guess – one mildly obscure reference to Home Alone in a public setting, and it’s in the books. Cool.