Known as a teacher of creativity, Judas Arrieta walks the line between comic illustration and intricate drawings. His installations, murals, and video recordings inject life into the world around him, and many find themselves inexplicably drawn to his work – able to relate to the feelings of humor that radiate from his art. Upon studying Judas’ work at The Modern Hotel & Bar, you’ll realize that he experiments without creative barriers and has a unique awareness of the world around him.
Judas Arrieta: Finding the Artist Within
Art, for many, tells a visual story: a starting point, a conclusion, and a journey from beginning to end. Refining, trialing and exploring various techniques demonstrates a sort of adaptability to the examiners and fans of one’s art. Arrieta considers himself a multidisciplinary artist, capable of crafting one-of-a-kind paintings, murals, drawings, toys, animations, and installations.
“My work tries to reflect or represent the vital and aesthetic experiences of a generation that has grown up around social, economic, and technological changes,” he explains, “my art can be considered as Manga Art, Abstract Comics, Kung Fu Painting or Sports Art. I’ve always said I’m a bastard child with many parents. I not only have direct influences from artists or art history, but I’m also influenced by cartoonists and manga, filmmakers, poets, and writers. TV, video games, toys, and Photoshop, I am passionate about all these things.”
Growing up, Arrieta was subject to a father who collected classic comics such as Apache, War Exploits, and Tarzan; and at a young age, he would mimic the covers, drawing them in his own interpretation. “This is something within me,” Arrieta says, “I’m from Hondarribia, a small fishing village on the Cantabrian coast near the border with France. Here were many art galleries some years ago and a tradition of painters and artists who made an art that reflected the environment of our area.”
For many, going to school to be an artist is considered a waste of time, a goal doomed to failure. But being an artist doesn’t mean you’re throwing your life away,rather, it can be a gateway to seeing the world differently and expressing yourself through several mediums. As Arrieta passionately describes it, “Every day I try to go around this tragic situation, be positive and creative, read Bushido, The Art of War, films, novels, works of other artists and artworks that inspire me and of the smile of my daughter. I reinterpret these experiences, and I reinvent myself as an artist through countless adventures and hardships in order to continue being me, Judas Arrieta, a scribble cartoonist.”
Wonder Stories: A Modern Work of Art
If you’ve walked down Main Street recently, you may have noticed the massive art installation on the back of the Modern Hotel & Bar. What you’re looking at is Arrieta’s most recent work, “Wonder Stories.”
The building-wide creation is an ode to the artist’s unrestricted rules and a direct reflection of his influences and creative inspirations. “A good artist must feel, rather than perceiving his opportunity when creating. I try to activate something like a nostalgia for the present with a futuristic work. However, it is meant as a setback,” Arrieta argues, “a retro passion that spits us a truth to the face, the truth of having the future in the past. Amuse and being amused. I do not want anyone getting bored with my work.”
Wonder Stories is an expression of the relationship between different cultures. It’s a visual narrative that guides the eye from side to side, helping the viewer understand their own identity through local and universal stories. Arrieta describes it as a “big comic, full of different ways to discover different stories and try to talk about the past, present and future of this area.”
You see, before Arrieta’s time working on Wonder Stories, he shared moments with the owners and workers of The Modern and with local citizens in Boise. As an artist, he wanted to understand all points of view, incorporate several stories, and intertwine elements of The City of Trees. Many of the aspects you can see on the wall of the hotel come from these shared moments, forming one larger narrative.
The tale Wonder Stories tells is of the history of The Modern Hotel & Bar, daily life and history of Boise, the conquest of the West, the cowboys, and Native Americans, pioneers and gold-diggers, mountains and wild animals. However, Arrieta shares personal experiences and folds in, “childhood stories told by family and friends about Basque sheepherders who migrated to the far West.”
The art you see at The Modern Hotel & Bar shares the same aspects of inspiration – pulling from personal stories of love and ambition. As Arrieta so eloquently puts it, “For me, art is a search, a level of knowledge, the evolution in my work is not something that worries me a lot.”
The counter-culture vibrancy of graffiti, stylized quirk of manga, and history of art and subconscious influence of text in advertising clash in a riot of colors and shapes. In essence, Wonder Stories is a visual reflection of a vibrant culture that radiates within The Modern.