Adolfo Alvarado revisits his imaginative childhood in ‘Grounded’
On Thursday, the Jepson Center for the Arts hosted a discussion with local artist Adolfo Alvarado, whose exhibition, “Grounded,” opened the following day.
The museum approached Alvarado last September as part of their recent #art912 initiative which strives to promote the visibility and vitality of artists living and working in Savannah by commissioning an exhibition from them.
Alvarado began with the title of the show, “Grounded,” and allowed the pieces he created to evolve from that. The majority of the works come from events, memories, dreams or cultural influences from his life, predominately his childhood.
“What I remember as a child was that I was like my son,” Alvarado said as his son ran around the #art912 lounge. “I was very active and so my mom would sit me down and try to get me to focus. She would try to get me to draw circles, lines, dashes and spirals to keep me still.” This was how he gained the majority of his art skills.
“As I started getting older, I started getting into trouble for similar things I would draw,” Alvarado said. “The teachers thought there was something going on at home because they saw this child drawing people attacking one another and so they called my mom. Since my mom had to go to the school, I would get grounded at the house. So that’s where the title comes from.”
Alvarado was born in Ciudad Juaréz, Mexico, and, when he was in high school, one of his teachers started a mural program. “At the time I was getting into a bit of trouble with some of the neighborhood kids with gang activities so that helped me push that aside and focus on something I really loved to do,” Alvarado said. “It really gave me a sense of community because I had never really picked up a paintbrush before. Everything I had done before involved a spray can.”
They started to paint for other schools and for local businesses and eventually painted at a gallery in El Paso. The curator had visited Savannah and told the three-person mural team about SCAD. She encouraged them to put together a portfolio of their work and send it off. All three were accepted the school. “That was pretty cool that I got to move here with two other friends,” Alvarado said. “It was like being in a new city but with people I already knew.”
Alvarado has provided several murals for Savannah, some of which can be seen at South Pond, Treylor Park, Flying Monk Noodle Bar and Midtown Deli. He has aspirations to start a mural festival in the city. “That’s something I would like to work on,” Alvarado said. “We can have a lot of local artists come together and do a mural around a building or anything we could find. That would bring a lot of color to these walls in the city. I think it would be fun, too, and involve the community.”
“Grounded” will be on display at the Jepson Center until August 19.