What is your name: Birth name is Juan Bernardo Cantu III,
Artist name: Bernardo Cantu. If you knew me from way back: J.B. or Necio (pronounced: ness yo).
Do you have a formal art education or are you a self taught artist: I have a BFA and M.S. both in art from Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) and an MFA in Drawing & Painting from UNT. But you can’t be any geek of the street gotta be handy with the tamales, you know what I mean, earn your keep!
What is the style of your pieces: Steam(p)Funk, Tex-Mex Neo Geo, Tribalist Rasquache Expressionism con Limon or perhaps Neo-Barrio-Mad Max and the Thunder dome -Chic. Maybe Totemic Cosmic Barrio Tech? Any of these will work fine. Feel free to mix and match just don’t add water or anything safe.
What is the medium in which you work: Typically sculptural paintings but I’ve been given a mutli-pass.
What started you on your path as an artist: I was always into making art since I can remember. Three years of age is as far back as my memory goes. However, there were a combination of people end elements that encouraged me throughout the way. My family always wanted me to do what it is that made me happy. My late sister Carol dabbled in art mainly via photography and I was always fascinated by what she was doing. I drew a lot growing up, and different people (friends and family) took notice. My art teacher in grade school singled me out and told me I have what it takes, which surprised me. These were some of the main elements that convinced me to stick to it. I also understood that everyone has different talents, skills, strengths etc. I wasn’t into anything else other than making things visually. So I had encouragement, passion and tenacity and that’s a good mixture I think. I knew very early on that I was to give back to the world through visual art somehow in my own little way. For others it is other things. For me it has always been visual art.
What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life: Proof that other worlds exist beyond our consensual reality/ordinary reality/explicit reality. Art for me is a tool or medium for me to be able to tap into that. It is an escape or a break from the quotidian.
What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in: I have always been into music/sound art. I usually have music on when im making art. It helps me to get into a more right brain state of mind. Sometimes I think, if I were a musician what kind of sound would I produce and how would that look visually? Often this helps me generate ideas about work. I’m always trying to research and find out who is turning the dial to a different frequency with established sounds. Visual art and music are so inextricably linked in my world. I often see music/sound and hear visual art. Some contemporary groups/artists I am listening to right now are: Neon Indian, Soft Powers, Com-Truise, Paul Hardcastle, Ford & Lopatin, Gang Gang Dance etc. etc.
Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like: Imagine the messaged received after consuming agave tequila soaked space pineapple with a side of cactus pudding. If you have the secret decoder ring to decode one of my shows, that’s one of the messages that just might appear.
Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in: Only clothes that magnify the visual wave resonance in the menudo-tron. If it doesn’t have any barrio grease on it, it isn’t permitted around the menudo-tron. It is very important that I respect this code of the menudo-tron. There have been some auditions by those wanting to alter or augment the code to allow room for other types of grease but nothing has qualified.
What has been the most frustrating part of being an artist?
What is your favorite sandwich of all time: A free sandwich made with love. But you know the real kind of love. The real love that doesn’t mind living in a chicken shack when people around you have diamond houses.
Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they:If anything maybe it is the way im thinking about the format my work takes. I’m really contemplating a more raw out of the painting structure, more installation wall based feel and setup. Taking a look into Alan Vega’s multi-material/installation setups (or really the spirit behind that) and seeing how I can approach this using my own style. But this hasn’t really showed up in my exhibited pieces just yet.
Who is your favorite artist alive or dead: The one who designed it all and all the others. Someone has to give that one a standing ovation… and the person who makes great pizza for a living.
What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person: Marc Bradford’s Helter Skelter II.
Do you have any animals, and what do they think of your work: Yes. They feel that the works doubt my commitment to sparkle motion.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us: Yes I have one coming up soon. Currently I am in the 2011 Texas Biennial and I will be featured in the up and coming 16th annual Young Latino Artist’s Exhibition, curated by Alex Freeman. The show opens this summer on June 17 and runs through September 25 at Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin,Texas. Very happy to be in included in both of these.