Miami street artist Trek6 has been painting since he first held a paintbrush. At age 6, his Puerto Rican grandmother began giving him supplies from her art supply store.
At the time, it might have been simply a convenient way to keep the kid entertained. But it also laid the foundation for a lifelong love of art. Now, three decades later, the 38-year-old can boast some of mural-happy Miami's most recognizable walls. And with a show of celebrity portraits coming up this weekend, plus a diverse range of projects further out on the horizon, he's showing no sign of stopping.
"It was originally a commissioned job for the store EyeMax on Lincoln Road," Trek says, describing his upcoming exhibit, "Through the Looking Glass," opening at Handcrafted Miami this Saturday. "The owner [of EyeMax] is a follower and collector. He asked for a series of portraits of celebrities in eyewear. And he gave me free reign -- I could pick whoever I wanted."
But this wasn't just a job for a paycheck; Trek saw an opportunity to show off his skills in an underappreciated medium. "I decided to do it all aerosol, to show how diverse aerosol is," he says. Though most people associate aerosol painting with blurry, simplistic art, he points out, "You can do fine lines, really intricate work."
The "Through the Looking Glass" portrait series includes pieces depicting famous four-eyed faces such as Andy Warhol, Buddy Holly, Sofia Loren, Noam Chomsky, and Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, of the hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. With 14 pieces in total, each measuring five square feet, Trek knew the collection couldn't be displayed in its entirety inside the small EyeMax space.
Luckily, the artist's wife was a friend of local tattoo artist Chris Núñez of Miami Ink, Ink Master, and the recently opened tattoo shop and art gallery Handcrafted Miami. So before Trek hands over the finished products, he's putting them on display at Handcrafted. "Before we gave them over, we wanted to do something where they could all be seen in one room," he explains.
"Through the Looking Glass" is just one in a series of exciting events and projects the artist has lined up. He recently returned from Pow Wow Hawaii, a gathering of street artists aimed at creating public art. He showed work at GAB Studio during the this month's Second Saturday Art Walk. He says he'll be painting in Santurce, Puerto Rico, later this month.
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"And I'm also working on a children's book," he casually mentions, as if it's a totally normal, expected thing for a street artist to do. He couldn't share more details than that -- "we're still working things out" -- but given his success in Miami and elsewhere, we can't wait to see it.
In the meantime, we'll have to settle for the new work at Handcrafted, debuting Saturday, March 16, from 7 p.m. to midnight. Attendees can enjoy the work with free Voli vodka in hand between 7 and 9 p.m. Visit handcraftedmiami.com.
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.