Upon arriving at the SPRING/BREAK Art Show on Tuesday evening, we knew that our first stop had to be Brooklyn’s own Tamara Santibañez’s much anticipated installation “Thinking About Everything, But Then Again I Was Thinking About Nothing.” After weeks of waiting and seemingly endless teasers from the artist via Instagram, we were finally able to see Santibañez fully flex her multi-media, fine art muscles in this piece through which she constructed “an archeological site” reminiscent of her youth as a punk rock kid.
The SPRING/BREAK Art Show occupies two floors of 4 Times Square, a giant corporate building previously home to Condé Nast, in the heart of NYC until March 6. The highly anticipated annual event differentiates itself from the other art fairs during NY Armory Art Week in that it allows independent curators to showcase lesser known up-and-comers alongside established artists, all working in various mediums within the same confines of an overall theme and a non-traditional “gallery” space.
Santibañez’s installation was curated by Justin De Demko of Castor Gallery. Not only a long time admirer of her fine art, De Demko also proudly wears one of her fine lined, black and grey Chicano-inspired ladies on his right arm.
“The first works I saw from Tamara were watercolor ‘portraits’ — a series that shows people by identifying clothing and accessories,” De Demko says. “I instantly loved how sharp and detailed Tamara was able to make works in watercolor, but I also really loved how the softness of the watercolor was being used to describe people by clothing that would not be considered soft — crops, leather heels, handcuffs, brass knuckles and more. The contrast of the medium and the subject matter is something I still love.
“As far as her tattoos go, I think the work speaks for itself,” De Demko continues.“The more I looked into her work, the more I loved it. The spiders, the hands, the whips… they’re all great, but my favorite works are the female faces, which is what I have on my right arm. They just show so much emotion.”
Themes of Chicano imagery, fetishism, punk DIY, and tattoo culture are common threads woven consistently throughout Santibañez’s work, and this new installation is no exception. According to a description of the installation from Castor Gallery, by “utilizing the symbols of subculture affiliation, West Coast imagery and punk DIY ethos and verbiage, Santibañez presents correlations between Chicano prison ideograms with those of the cult of punk rock, the loud, fast-moving, and aggressive form of rock music,” she seeks to immerse the viewer in an artistic reproduction of her childhood bedroom.
An all-white landscape is peppered with band posters, t shirts, patches, cassette tapes, vinyl records, and various punk accessories made from ballpoint pen, ceramics, and fabric. The space works as a whole to submerge onlookers into a dreamlike scene constructed entirely from an autobiographical standpoint. “The title of the work is taken from the lyrics of the Suicidal Tendencies song "Institutionalized," referring to rebellion, frustrations and yearning for independence — a blatant nod to Santibañez own youth and influences.
“The biggest reaction I’ve noticed is how people find it peaceful, and calming,” De Demko explains. “There’s something great about seeing people going from room to room and fair to fair — starting to feel the stress of Armory week — come into a metal and punk themed-room and just zen out.”
Open to the public through March 6th, NYC locals still have all weekend to wander the art-infested cubicles of 4 Times Square from 11am-6pm daily — and while all of the work on display is notable, we aren’t ashamed to say that Tamara Santibañez’s is without a doubt our favorite.