Victor Quinonez says he’s lucky to be alive. Born in Mexico, he grew up in a rough section of East Dallas, rife with drugs and violence. As a teenager, he applied to the magnet Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts because it was considered the safest school in the area. He got in. He discovered his passion for art. And despite a three-month stint in jail for defacing property with graffiti, he was on his way—to Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and on a full scholarship, too.
Now a Hyde Park resident with a wife, son and daughter, Victor also goes by the moniker “Marka 27”—his tag, his graffiti name, his homage to artists he admired as a teenager with names like “Ozone” and “Ras 13.” His work is vibrant, full of color and explosive scene, memorable faces and cultural dissonance: the smiling street kid with the wool cap and angel’s wings standing in front of a tenement brick wall. He grew up, he knew, in rough circumstances, but his parents instilled in him a sense of responsibility and a faith in God that he ascribes to this day as his reason for survival and success. And now, his work is shown in galleries all over the country, especially Boston and Los Angeles.
As a teen, Victor’s teachers encouraged him to study the Renaissance painters and imitate the masters. But Victor preferred a spray can to a paint brush, a city wall to a stretched canvas. The Museum School staff tried to get him to tone down his work, too. Nothing doing. He did his course work and his street work, becoming a Boston graffiti phenomena. He also did a lot of work teaching art to Boston youth and won a Museum School’s award for his community efforts. Locally his art has been seen in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the S.M.F.A Grossman Gallery, the Boston Center For the Arts Gallery, and the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. And he no longer limits himself to spray paint and brick walls. He works with acrylics and oils and is now quite at home with a canvas, thank you. And he has a new endeavor: vinyl sculptures representing musicians he admires, such as Nina Simone, that contain speakers that play the music of the artist. His kids love them, he says, and they’re available from the Crewest Gallery in LA (www.crewest.com) and from his website for $120 (www.Marka27.com). He tries out each one he builds on his kids and if they give the thumbs up….
His heart, though, remains in street art. No art inspires him more than the pieces he produces for free in public spaces. To be able to create something beautiful, hopeful and with a statement of change for all to see, he says, moves him like nothing else. He’s put up murals in Jamaica Plain and Dorchester and he plans to do more. Art, he says, is about giving. He says God gave him his chance, and it’s his duty, and his joy, to keep giving back.
For art purchase: http://www.crewest.com
For toy purchase: http://www.myplasticheart.com, http://www.taintedvisionsart.com/