Andres Gallardo: Street Passion and Art Scavenger Hunts

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Panamanian, by the way of Long Island, mixed-media visual artist Andres Gallardo left me mesmerized when I first saw his work this past March. His work was featured in the I Am Art showcase at St. Johns University - a show in which I had the opportunity to perform. He "digged" my hair and I "digged" his art work; what better natural way to start a conversation. He got my #fearless pass when he told me that he holds a "Gem Scavenger Hunt".  In this Easter egg hunt remix, Andres hides his artwork in different parts of a city and people go out looking for them; theirs to keep once they get their hands on one.

Most of Gallardo's work is done on wood blocks and vinyl canvases. He's held scavenger hunts across the East Coast and most recently in Miami. He also etched pieces of Trayvon Martin during a rally, of which he donated to protesters, landing him a story on Time Magazine. I was able to sit with this social-political conscious artist and this was our conversation.

When was the first time  you realized that you were an artist?

I've been creating all my life. Its funny, the other day I found an award from elementary school for "Artist of The Year". It wasn't until my second year of college that I realized its something I needed to do. Its my life.

One of Andres's pieces from 2010

Who inspires your work and what's your work's purpose?

Not to sound cliché, but I have to say love inspires me more than anything else. Not just romantic love, but also my love for humanity, for beauty and for human rights. I like to think of my art as an activist of happiness. I try my best to use my art as a weapon to influence and bring awareness while showcasing people who inspire and influence so many.

Whats your relationship with curly haired women? You seem a bit obsessed, not that anything is wrong with that.

This is hands down the greatest question I've ever received. My relationship with curly haired women? I absolutely love curly haired women and afros for that matter. I have an attraction towards chaos. A beautiful mess I guess you can call it. Theres something exotic and powerful and lioness about the big hair. Some of the most influential revolutionary women had big hair. Kathleen Cleaver , Angela Davis. I can go on for ever. I admire a woman who can have controlled straight hair but also own the big hair. I just love it. It is sexy, it is power, it is beautiful, and above all amazingly soulful.

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I love street marketing and unconventional campaigns. What triggered your gem idea?

I never saw it as a marketing idea. I know how expensive art can be and I was really just curious to see if any one would care if I put out free art. It then became something bigger. I started seeing the reactions of people when they found my gems. They acted as if they won the lottery. I would stand there and say to myself, " no matter what heavy shit they may be going through at the moment, for these couple of minutes or even for this night they're happy about something. " G.E.M began to define itself as " Giving.Everyone.Moments". To me it's when I became an activist of a thrill, an activist of happiness through my art.

If you could show your work in a specific city, which one would it be and why?

I recently got a chance to visit Paris and would love to have a show in Paris. Its beautiful. I fell in love with the city there.

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I visited your FB page and noticed that you were involved in a protest for Venezuela. How did your art empower you to get involved in the protest for Venezuelan? What was your involvement in the protest? 

Its very important to me to get involved with world issues. Especially when the issues affect my fellow Latinos. I heard of the injustice with the government and their citizens and it moved me to artistically react. In the United States, if we don't agree with something we can peacefully protest. Though, at first I didn't know all the issues going on. I saw that students were being killed by government officers as they tried to march for their rights in Venezuela.  I heard there was a protest in Union Square (NYC) so I went out with revolutionary images of the students and even one of a beauty queen in Venezuela who was shot while marching. As artists, I think we have a responsibility to bring awareness and I'll continue to do so.

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What kind of artist collaborations do you want to do with your work?

Spoken word artists are some of my biggest inspirations so I'd love to continue collaborating with them. I've seen some artists paint on women and I think it would be cool for them to be canvas's since they're already the muse; something powerful to show how they birth so much more beauty than just children. A cool illustration of how women birth beauty and strength with their being alone. I'd also love to create some videos. Direct ideas into moving visuals. I think above all I'm an artist. Not just a painter but a creator.

Follow Andres on Twitter to stay up to date with his latest work and his scavenger hunts.