Interview with Artist Moncho 1929


Moncho 1929, was the first artist to contribute to Essex Modern City. Being the first artist who came out to San Antonio for this project, he has become familiar with the area and those in the community. He grew up in South Bronx in the 80’s spending most of his time with his cousin and friends around abandoned buildings and creating graffiti.

After growing his skill, and passion through street art Moncho later became involved in gallery works. He wanted to make sure that the gallery art that he created be enjoyed by everyone, stating he “I wanted to do fine art but I wanted to do something for everybody.  There was and still is a stigma where if you go into a gallery you may feel kind of weird because you don’t have a lot of money or you may not know about art.” From seeing the way that some people had reservations about going into galleries and viewing the art, Moncho created art that is accessible in the same way street art is.

Making the move from street to gallery art, Moncho discovered the transition was difficult. While transferring from street art to gallery art or vice versa, there is a narrative shift. “It’s hard to go from the street into the gallery, you have to scale down a little bit and you have more time with the narrative, so all of a sudden the narrative becomes more of a thing. When you do art work outside a lot of people don’t have the time to sit there and look at it and think about it, it’s a quick visual blurb. Where a painting in a gallery you can take the time to really sit there and digest it, you can digest it over days or weeks or whatever.” When working in an artistic environment outside the narrative needs to be quick and visual; whereas art in a gallery provides the artist the opportunity to expand the narrative of the piece.

While creating within each of these spaces Moncho discovered that doing murals pieces gave him the ability to be more meditative within his work. “When I do murals it’s a very different mindset it’s a little more meditative…it’s really about color play and about how your eye travels from one line to another and another, and it’s how to just keep your eye moving. So for me I can kind of meditate a little more when I do those.”

While working on so many amazing pieces of artwork, he discovered that there is a focus and determination needed for making art. He explained that “a lot of people don’t realize that with anything, art, music, whatever passion that you do there is work involved, there is a work ethic. There is a little bit of talent but a lot of it is how hard you work at it, and if you aren’t fully invested it’s going to show in how far you go with the piece and how much work you do. I think it’s a mental thing in how you challenge yourself.” Being an artist that loves what he does provides Moncho the ability to use his pieces as a driving force to continue creating and challenging himself.

Moncho learned from those around him, and was also able to attend art school. He explained that he was very fortunate in being able to have this experience and work with great people, while finding some amazing mentors. “Sometimes it’s just, you’re giving people exercises but you can’t teach how to think critically or how to think as an artist. How to look at something as an artist and think why does it exists. I’m lucky to have had some really good mentors along the way…There’s so much in art that you really can’t teach in school and you learn from art, you learn from people who have been doing it for a long time…. at the end of the day you can’t teach someone to think critically, and how to make something and make it for a reason. There’s a lot of stuff that looks cool and that’s great, that’s its own kind of thing but it’s the why you’re doing something that’s really important.”

Pulling from his years of experience and artistic skills, Moncho offered up this advice to his younger self, as well as any other artists starting out. “Put in the work and trust the process. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in a goal and you don’t enjoy the actual journey…You lose sight of you really enjoying what you’re doing and at the end of the day there is a lot to be said for that, and it shows in the work. All the mistakes and everything I made in the past got me to where I am now. If I didn’t have the frustrations and everything else I wouldn’t have the work, I wouldn’t be where I’m at…You have to f*ck up numerous times and own the f*ck ups because you’re going to build those stepping stones and you’re going to keep going and then that’s part of enjoying the journey…at the end of the day I’m still fighting with myself, I’m still trying to produce my best work because I don’t think I have produced my best work yet. I don’t think anybody who’s creative is going to be completely satisfied with the work they have produced because if you are what’s the need to keep going. My best painting is the next one, it’s always the next one, I can be doing one and I can like them but the next one is going to be really good.”

New York Artist Al Diaz Interviews Before Essex 2nd Saturday Event


Al Diaz is best known for his collaboration with Jean Michel Basquiat on SAMO©, graffiti that appeared in lower Manhattan from 1977 to 1979. SAMO© initially became known because of its wit and sarcastic humor; but became a globally recognized graffito after Basquiat’s rise to fame.

 A prolific and influential first-generation NYC subway graffiti artist, who later became a text-oriented street artist, Al Diaz’s career spans 5 decades.

Al Diaz will unveil a mural on April 13th at the Essex Art Second Saturday event from 6-9pm, so we interviewed him to give people in San Antonio a little more background on who this influential artist is and what he’s bringing to the event.  

Q: When did you start painting and why?

 A: I started doing art when I was a child, like 6 months old. I don’t remember the first time but it’s always been there. It started with me drawing with my fingers in my crib. It’s always been with me.

Q: As you grew up, got older and in elementary or middle school, were you training or were you just doodling?

A: Me and a classmate, who now draws for Marvel comics were the two most efficient artists at our school. I went to Catholic school for 8 years and always remembered that we were the most talented artists there.  

Q: Was is in high school when you got into graffiti art?

A: I started writing graffiti in New York in 1969. It was more of a sport, like an activity we did in defiance. It was a delinquent activity to feed our ego and own the city. It was more of a competition versus expressing creativity. I started at 12 and it became kind of an addiction

Q: How would you classify street art vs graffiti art?

A: Street art is more of an academic and artistic theme. Graffiti is more of ego-centric, you think of getting your name around more than the next guy. Some guys develop some style during it; but it’s generated by the desire for people to see you name around. A graffiti artist isn’t necessarily a street artist or vice versa. It’s a great misconception think.

Q: Let’s talk about SAMO, how did that idea come about?

A: The idea was that it was a product, it was based on the idea of a religious cult that would be able to do whatever you wanted it to do. The word SAMO came from “same old, same old” but it could mean anything. It was always changing, it was a vehicle to express our angst, express anger at consumerism. It was never meant to be about an individual.

Q: Bringing your mural in San Antonio, what do you want to leave the people here? 

A: I just like to raise people’s consciousness as to what’s going on with the planet. It’s very topical of what I like to talk about.

Q: What would say to aspiring artists? 

A: Keep doing what you’re doing, you can be influenced by others but do your own thing. Don’t emulate and stay with your voice.

The 2019 Essex Music and Art Fest in San Antonio will change the landscape of events downtown by providing the city with a much needed platform for creative people. One of our favorite quotes from our interview with Mr. Diaz was, “Art in communities can bring people together”.

We believe that’s exactly what Essex will do. 

Food, Family and Art- Essex Modern City’s Unique Event in San Antonio

It can be a struggle to find a weekend activity in San Antonio that isn’t at the same old tourist trap. In a city so full of culture, it’s surprisingly difficult to find local events that give a real sense of the people and community. It’s even harder to find somewhere you can bring the dog, the kids, AND take photos worthy enough for all of Instagram to see.  

So, what is a San Antonio to do on the weekends?

Second Saturday Nights

Far from the typical night downtown, second Saturdays at Essex Modern City showcase the authentic urban spirit of San Antonio. Every month, artists come to our urban development site where they spend hours creating breathtaking murals.  

On March 9th from 6pm-9pm, we invite everyone to enjoy the larger than life artwork along with local food trucks, vendors and free beer! It’s truly the perfect place to go out with friends and family and enjoy the modern, local culture which is so badly missing from the mainstream radar. 

The murals provide a perfect backdrop for pictures and the enclosed, outdoor setting is great for small kids who can have fun making art of their own with sidewalk chalk. If you’re looking for somewhere to bring your pet along, furry friends are also welcome at Essex Modern City.

With the art changing monthly, this event will always provide a fresh look into San Antonio’s culture.

Be A Part of the Community

When people create art, others naturally gather around to look at it. Modern Essex City started as a way to foster a community by providing a gathering space for people to do just that.  

Come take part in enjoying the creativity of San Antonio and be one of the first to join the community that Modern Essex City will become.  

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