At Untitled Art Fair – December 2019

Booth view of Valdez’s work with David B. Smith Gallery at Untitled, 2019

So much of your work is about color and plant-life; features that are prevalent in Miami. What’s it like being here?

It’s like being in one of my paintings! I actually have a lot of these tropical plants in my studio. The colors are so vibrant and bright. There’s an energy here that I try to capture in my pieces. I see an abundance of color, vibrancy, pattern and botanical life in this environment that I reference in my paintings, which I think gives my pictures movement.

“Leopard Prints” oil and acrylic on canvas, 42 x 40 inches. 2019

How much do you feel like your current environment, wherever it may be, influences your work?

In general, I think environment informs behavior in terms of what we see and think about, so my environment always influences me. I take things from home and my space and arrange them in interesting relationships to each other to make compositions out of them, but it really does have to do with the mundane and whatever I have around me. If I’m traveling, I take my pochade box and I’ll make paintings of wherever I am. And then I’ll take those paintings and put them into the other paintings. It’s always about the environment.

Blue Bird Vase with Calathea oil on canvas, 35 x 24 inches. 2019

How long have you been in Oakland and where were you before that? 

I’ve been in Oakland for the last six years. Before that, I was in Boston.

Do you feel that your real and/or created environments inform a type of self-portraiture?

The large 6 x 6 foot  painting that’s up right now at Untitled, is an actual self-portrait in the studio which is literally an autobiographical piece because I painted myself physically into the picture. My figure takes up a small amount of space in painting, and I’m faceless, my clothing is black because I wanted my form to recede into the background. I wanted the idea of the whole studio to be the actual portrait. I think that painting sums up a lot of what my subject is about. You don’t even have to put the figure in it–I just wanted to be a little more obvious this time. We’re putting artwork out there that’s generated through our lens and our experiences and what we think about–so it’s all self-portraiture in some way.

Self-Portrait in Studio – oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 inches. 2019

Since you’ve been spending time in the booth here in Miami, have you been talking to visitors? How is it as the artist in that situation?

I like being accessible to people who come by. It’s been really fun hanging out with David b. Smith and Marsha Mack. I feel like this whole experience is to solidify those relationships and be accessible to people that are interested in the work–whether they’re collectors, artists, or curators. It’s fun to meet  a lot of people that I know from Instagram or just casually through their work. Being present in the gallery has facilitated that a little better and I’ve enjoyed just hanging out and seeing the process of the art fair. I’m an observer, so I really just like to watch. When I’m not in the gallery booth, I’m curious about the whole art fair culture however, If I went to all of the fair tents, I would get way too visually overwhelmed. I honestly don’t know how people come here to buy something, and how they choose what to purchase. I’ve overheard a lot of conversations that have been very interesting. There’s also that urgency of getting something that’s on display because it could go at any minute. As an artist who doesn’t really interact in that world, I feel like I’m doing an Anthropological study and people-watching and observing how they interact with each other or when a collector comes in and their body language says they have wealth.

But it’s so exciting that it’s a huge convention center for artists; shutting down a city and re-inventing it in its own way. 

David B. Smith booth, Valdez work to the right

Do you feel like anything is changing for you in your work?

Always. I want to do much bigger paintings. I like creating landscapes in my studio and then painting from them, but it is a kind of a small depth of field. I want people to feel they can touch the objects in the painting, pick them up and hold them. I have a lot of ideas that have been in my sketchbook for at least a year, waiting to be manifested, so I can’t wait.

“Bones and Stones” – oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches. 2019

Do you have anything else coming up in the near future that you want to promote?

My solo show with Hashimoto Contemporary in June 2020 and my solo show with the David B. Smith Gallery in October. Also, Hashimoto Contemporary published a 200-page monograph for for my last show, Natural Curiosity with essay contributions by curators and art writers, Chad Alligood, and Nina Mdivani. 

Salt Rock Lamp Study encaustic on hardboard, 20 x 16 inches. 2019

Valdez at Untitled, Miami
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