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Armando Minjarez talks about his career, his inspiration, and this year's pledge drive art

courtesy photo

For nearly 20 years, KMUW has featured local artists during its fundraisers, adding extra appeal to the traditional pledge drive mug and t-shirt. Our current featured artist is Armando Minjarez, well known for his own work and for spearheading art projects in the community. KMUW's Beth Golay visited with Minjarez about his career, his inspiration, and this year's art.


Beth Golay: When did you start calling yourself an artist? You know, was it as a child or in college? When did you know that art was your calling?

Armando Minjarez: Wow. I think probably in high school is when, yeah, I wanna say high school. It's when other people started calling me, referring to me as an artist. I mean, I've been, I guess practicing art, making things since I was a child. Very little child. But never saw myself as an artist until people started calling me an artist, I guess. And that was high school when that happened.

So talk to me about your journey as an artist in terms of medium. The piece you created for KMUW is 2D, two dimensional, but you're also known for your 3D work, your sculpture. Talk to me about medium for you.

Yeah, medium. That's actually something that I like to talk a lot about because I guess I call myself an interdisciplinary artist. And all that means is that I work with all kinds of different media. And in the years that I've been active as an artist, um, I've done anything from the convention, sculpture, installation, work, murals, painting, illustration, 2D, even performance art. I like to think of it this way. Um, I come up with the concept, what the thing is gonna be, and then I'll let that kind of guide what is the best material or medium to make that idea come into reality. Right. Sometimes it's ceramics, sometimes it could be concrete. Maybe it needs to be something more ephemeral, right? That only it's there for just a little bit of time. So it really depends on what the idea it's meant to be.

So, many of our listeners will be familiar with the Horizontes project and one aspect of that project, which is the world's largest mural on grain elevators in North Wichita. Are there any other projects like that on the horizon? Forgive the pun.

<laugh>. Um, yes. Maybe not something to that scale. Um, we are currently working with GLeo, the same, uh, mural artist who painted the one of the grand elevator. We have currently an opportunity to bring her back in town for another project, but nothing to that scale, but definitely working with her again and, and continuing the spirit and the legacy of Horizontes here in Wichita.

I wanna talk to you about the piece that you created for KMUW.


Listeners, you can go to kmuw.org and see Armando's beautiful piece of art. It's, it's featured on our t-shirt and our coffee mug for this pledge drive. And you can see the art at our website, but I wonder if you can talk to me about "Winter Blues". That's the name of the piece. Talk to me about the inspiration for it and, and maybe walk us through the piece.

Yeah, absolutely. So the piece features, um, some geometric shapes and similar irregular shapes than different warm gradient colors. There's some alluding to the, the winter sky and maybe like a window to look through. A lot of the shapes that I use in my abstract work comes from everyday objects. I kind of zoom in into the details of things that lay around my studio and my house. And by getting close into those details, it gets me a moment to kind of slow down and be present. But also it gets me these little moments of abstraction, right? This go unnoticed so often. So that's where I borrow all the images that you see in the piece. The name comes from the time that it was created. It was created in dead winter in Wichita. It was cold, it was dreary and I was really having a, a warm moment working on those pieces.

So it, it, it was one of those, like I was going through the winter blues and just the, the, the fact that I was back in my studio working on, on paper and painting really brought a lot of joy in that moment. Even though I titled the "Winter Blues", there was a lot of joy that I was experiencing while making that piece. So again, it's a collection of small moments of everyday life that are abstracted on the piece and injecting some of the emotional landscape that I was in right in, in the Wichita winter in 2023. <laugh>, I do take inspiration from the smallest details and moments in everyday life, right? And, and try to give 'em, try to bring them into a, I guess, another plane to be seen and examined. And I hope that people who, who see the, that piece and that mug are able to have a moment of reflection as well, and to it slowed down even for just a few seconds and are busy lives. That that's what I hope that ultimately the listeners who, who have the mug are able to have that moment of calm.

You are the 2023 KMUW artist, Armando Minjarez. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you for having me.

Beth Golay is KMUW's Director of Marketing and Digital Content. She is the host of the KMUW podcast Marginalia and co-host with Suzanne Perez of the Books & Whatnot podcast. You can find her on Wichita Transit in conversation with other riders for En Route, a monthly segment on KMUW's weekly news program The Range.