Urban Muralist Jaque Fragua Brings Talents to the Streets of Albuquerque

Street art is a form that is often misunderstood by the general public. In recent years, though, in cities all over the word, it is an expression that is finding its way into the limelight and legitimizing the talents of its creators.

Visual artist Jaque Fragua, who hails from Jemez Pueblo, is one of those artists. Fragua, a rebel of sorts, has the vision and pluck reminiscent of the kind of contemporary artists one would meet in New York. On top of that this proud drop-out from IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts) is naturally gifted with a sharp mind, articulate tongue, charming personality and thoughtful creativeness that makes it seem impossible that he won’t succeed in the art world in some form or another. He contends that he has the tools already necessary to carve out a niche for himself. Not to be contained by the label “Native American Artist,” Fragua vehemently shuns the world of Native art markets to be himself and find his own identity in a climate where the term art has come to mean so many things.

Currently, Fragua is a participant in a new show in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, which opens on Saturday, October 2. “Street Text” is a two-part exhibition examining Street Art and its evolution into a worldwide cultural movement. It is the centerpiece for an event “Street Arts: A Celebration of Hip Hop Culture and Free Expression,” with a wider scope, which will be taking place all over the Duke City. The festival of sorts, organized by 516 Arts and sponsored by the ACLU, is a collaborative effort between twenty-five local organizations and will incorporate film, music, written word, and, of course, visual arts created by local and international guest artists.

Fragua is currently in the process of creating a gatekeeper mural on the backside of the El Rey Theater on Central Avenue with fellow artists Chris Stain and Lichiban. Lichiban, who hails from Brooklyn, New York, and has worked at 5 Points in Queens, is accustomed to working on wood with ink and watercolor, but is excited to have brick and acrylic as her mediums on this project. She began doing larger works last April and has wanted to collaborate with Fragua for over a year. The result of their efforts will be a piece that moves from ancestral to cosmic as its subject climbs a ladder to the heavens.

Earlier in the week, I had the chance to speak with Fragua hard at work on his mural project in the hot New Mexico sun about “Street Text” and his philosophy about art. HERE’s what he had to say:

“Street Arts” runs through the month of November at various locations throughout Albuquerque. For more information and a complete list of events visit http://www.516arts.org/.