Judas Arrieta hails from Euskal Herria, or what most people call Basque Country. He has become increasingly famous amongst the Boise locals for his one-of-a-kind works of art. Known for creating such beautiful work as Boiseland, he considers himself a voice for the many people who don’t know how to express themselves.
The deeper you dive into his work, the more you’ll find noticeable influences from great painters and artists. He twists the classic form and incorporates stylistic nuances of cartoonists, manga comics, designers, poets and writers, television icons, movie heroes, and video game characters. “I’m a painter,” Arrieta claims. “Basically, what I do is enjoy. For me, art is a way to grow up, to enjoy life and to show everybody my happiness.”
This summer, Arrieta will be spending his time in Boise, and lending his artistic abilities to the Modern in the form of a custom crafted work of art on the back wall of the hotel. “Being in the Modern is amazing for me because I arrived in Boise last summer to make a studio without knowing what would happen. Now, I’m invited to come to the Modern after being here a year. To be here is a pleasure.”
As a child growing up in the Basque Country, Arrieta saw imagery depicting ‘The West’ in comic books. To him, the western United States was a place of history and wonder, nearly fantasy. Now, after experiencing the American lifestyle, he attempts to reflect the vital and aesthetic experiences of his generation through art.
“The first time I visited the Modern, I knew it was a special place. I’m always trying to find companies and enterprises who want to do these kinds of things… the Modern does an excellent job of not only providing rooms and food, but they provide a great experience.”
Representing a culture that is so heavily influenced by social, economic and cultural changes is no small feat. But somehow, Arrieta manages to blend stereotypes, pop culture, and history into a melting pot of astonishing imagery.
Arrieta’s work of art is on display at the Modern Hotel and Bar, and visitors are welcome to stop by for a handcrafted cocktail, a hot plate of locally-sourced cuisine, and to see his masterful modern designs.
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 influenced by 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, steep myself in Bushido, The Art of War, films, novels, works of other artists and artworks that inspire me and in 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.”
Because 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.