Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We won!! WestWord MasterMind award 2010

Thank you to all of the GuerillaGarden supporters, and thank you WestWord.

Guerilla Garden/Jolt

"I was at the bar drinking with this old lady," Silas Ulibarri recalls. "She said she knew Andy Warhol; she was really cool. She started telling me about these guerilla gardens she used to plant in New York in the '70s. It sounded like the approach I take when doing my graffiti."

And it inspired him to name his studio at 3826 Steele Street, with all its spin-off projects, Guerilla Garden.

Working as Jolt, Ulibarri has been doing graffiti for thirteen years, since before he was at North High School. "I just got into art," he recalls. "It's kind of weird how things worked out. After high school, I started traveling to different cities, doing graffiti."

But his heart belongs to community work in his home town — with CHAC, Sisters of Color, the I Have a Dream Foundation. "I really want to just be a part of the communities of Denver," he says. "I've been doing a lot of stuff with kids for the last five or six years now. The Boys and Girls Club in north Denver; I grew up in the housing project across the street. The Bridge project in the South Lincoln projects."

And more often than not, what he's working on are murals. "I've done tons of murals with kids," he continues. "The one I'm most proud of right now is at the Rude Rec Center. It's so different to work with kids who were incarcerated, like the healthiest thing I've been a part of. It was so good for them."

Ulibarri recognizes that "illegal street graffiti is not for everybody, that people don't like it — that's not going to change." But he can use graffiti to change the community. "I'm just trying to work with the environment, to add to the deteriorating landscape," he explains. So when he heard about the guerilla gardens, he recognized that he was gardening, too — adding color to a gray world. "I took the concept, and that's what I've applied to everything we do. I've created a kind of tagline: 'Naturalizing the urban environment.' It has lots of different meanings. My past works have been guided by an underlying aesthetic philosophy that attempts to 'naturalize the urban landscape.' Softening the hard steel and institutional walls of industry is a social imperative. For the health of social consciousness, artists must inject an element of abstracted ecology into industrial structures. I put it on everything: clothing, murals. It's really just the lifestyle that I live. And when I go back into the neighborhoods where I work with kids, they see that I can do that naturally."