Albert Reyes has been one of our favorite artists for a long time. His work encapsulates everything that is interesting, beautiful, and horrifying about the city of Los Angeles. While his origins are somewhat mysterious, we know he has roots in graffiti, which is perhaps why his most powerful works seem ripped from real life, as if the energy and desolation of the streets have been captured on notebook paper or the back of a book. He brings discarded objects and transforms them into something beautiful and mysterious; he recycles logos and signage, and then forces them to inform on themselves, stripped of their commercial power. More than anything, Albert Reyes makes you question your comfortable reality by presenting his version of what’s happening in the shadows, in the house next door, on tv, or in the streets. We asked him a few questions in anticipation of his solo show “Made in America” at Slow Culture that opens this Friday, August 12th…

What is your favorite taco?
My favorite taco spot is King Taco.

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Where did you grow up? How did it influence you?
I grew up in Los Angeles, El Sereno. I was influenced by the people, the open spaces, the hills which as a kid we called the heavens, and cholo gangster graffiti.

What role do found objects play in your work?
Well, unlike manufactured objects found objects are free and easily accessible and relatable. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and vice versa. I like the creative challenge of making something out of nothing, found objects give me that opportunity.

Do you have a lucky number?
My lucky number is seven.

When and where were you most happy?
I am most happy right now in the present moment. The present moment is always the most happiest time for me to be in.

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What is the most beautiful thing in the world?
The most beautiful thing in the world is life.

What are your favorite horror movies and why?
My favorite horror movie of all time is the original Halloween, the reason why is because when I was a kid I first saw that movie on cable at my uncle’s house, and I really enjoyed it– the music, the lighting, the mask, the killing… good times.

Do you have a lucky number?
My lucky number is seven.

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What is your favorite part of Los Angeles?
My favorite part of Los Angeles is all the theme parks: Disneyland, Universal, Knott’s Berry Farm. I really like South Pasadena and Thousand Oaks as well.

How did graffiti help shape your art?
As a kid seeing graffiti in my neighborhood that anyone any person could have the self empowerment to write and say whatever they like on walls to share with others… the courage to do that, I guess that’s what art is– ideas and sharing them with others. I learned that from graffiti.

What are the scariest things in America right now?
To me, the scariest things in America right now is our politicians, the people that are running for president of United States. Drought, global warming, and what we are doing to the environment. The media. Foreign policy, war, and the use of drones to destroy villages in distant lands. The way we treat the poor and mentally ill in our country. The way police treat Black people, the way people treat people… I can go on forever on this subject, there’s so much scary shit out there in real life America.

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Can you tell us a little about your haunted house, its origins, and what you are planning for this October?
October’s still a ways away so I’m not sure what I’m planning to do yet with my haunted house. The origins of my haunted house comes from being inspired by theme parks when I was a kid: Disneyland Haunted mansion was my favorite ride, and I love going to Knott’s Scary Farm and Universal Horror Nights, those are all big influence. I enjoy entertaining people and creating environments that are not just scary, but beautiful. A lot of people love being scared and I don’t mind scaring them!

Got any shoutouts?
I’d like to give a shout out to all the people who have supported me and my artwork throughout my life. There are so many, you know who you are, and it means a lot to me to be able to continue to do what I love. I wouldn’t be able to without the support of others, so thank you very very much from the top right corner of my heart. Thank you for this opportunity, I appreciate it.

Image Gallery from “Made in America” at Slow Culture

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