The artwork that comprises “Reflections” stems from a childhood fascination with doodling in textbooks while growing up in the 1980s.
Befuddling notebook margins and homemade book covers with various band names, song lyrics, and drawings of devils and demons influenced by old heavy metal hand-me-down album covers and a group of friends who played “Dungeons & Dragons” every weekend, the young artist took to adding his own details.
In contrast, de la Garza also had a full appreciation of the jovial and hilarious renderings represented in Saturday morning cartoons, which were surprisingly empty of some of the detail and graphic content of other genres.
Later on as a jaded teen, skateboard magazines with their ironic and cynical advertising that incorporated macabre images with strange slogans and pictures of cartoon women with wild hairstyles became of interest to him.
The artist freely admits that his interest in art was sparked primarily by the pop culture of the 1980s and considers his work to be a tribute to, and a product of, all these influences.
The whimsical relationships that manifest themselves when these styles are combined on canvas in oil can be intensely revealing and even subtlety political at times.
Mitchel de la Garza was born in 1978 in Webster, Texas. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree in 2002 from the University of Tennessee, with a concentration in painting. He also studied drawing, printmaking, steel sculpture and ceramics. Group shows and apprenticeships include exhibitions in 2007-08 at the Knoxville-based screen printing company, Host Clothing, run by partner and friend Craig Kandel, and in 2010, at the gallery of Jennie Andrews Photography.
Recent solo exhibitions include shows at local businesses in and around the Old City in Knoxville, including The Urban Bar, clothing company Crush Knoxville, Lox Salon, and Groundswell Community Center.
The public is invited to meet the artist at an opening reception at The Arts Center on Friday, Jan. 18, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
Also on Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m., the Black Box Concert Series kicks off its season with “The Georgia Songbird,” EG Kight, in concert.
Mentored by the late, great Koko Taylor, Kight channels her quick wit, Southern charm, and a fierce passion for the blues into a highly entertaining, but deeply personal solo show.
Tickets are on sale for $15/adults and $8/students in advance and at the door, as available.
The Arts Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
For more information, directions, or to purchase tickets, call The Arts Center at 423-745-8781, or visit www.athensartscouncil.org.