It used to be a common refrain – one you hear less and less these days:
El Paso is boring; nothing good comes out of the city.
But one group is doing their part to dispel that myth by growing El Paso’s art scene and highlighting the accomplishments of a group of hometown heroes.
EPIC, the El Paso Illustrator Collective, will host “Southwest Iconica: El Paso,” a show featuring artistic representations of some of El Paso’s best-known celebrities. The exhibit runs July 25-27 at the 2nd Floor Gallery.
A.R. Ramirez, a founder of EPIC, hopes the show proves to be inspirational.
“I always hear people say negative things about El Paso,” he said. “We want to prove those people wrong. We want to tell them, look, these people have done it. They’ve lived here for a while, or they were born here, they did great things for this city, and if they can do it, you can, too.”
Manny Martinez, a co-founder of the group, agrees.
“Some people tell me there’s nothing to do here, there’s no big art scene, no big music scene,” he said. “It’s still growing; it’s still a work in progress, if you will. A lot of people don’t have enough patience for it.”
The collective began in February 2012 as a group of five artists looking to promote an underrepresented segment of the community. The “Iconica” show is the first of their efforts.
Ramirez said the collective’s works are based on drawings and illustrations, whether mixed media, digital, charcoal, pen and pencil or ink. “We don’t do paintings and sculptures because I think El Paso is already known for that, so we wanted to differ from that,” he said.
Among the well-known personalities featured in the show are such Sun City luminaries as Don Haskins, “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and the band At The Drive-In.
“One example that I personally love is Eddie Guerrero,” Ramirez said. “As a kid, I grew up watching him Monday nights in the WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and WWF (World Wrestling Federation). He went to Jefferson, where I went to high school. That was just a big deal to me and my friends. We’re thinking, ‘Wow, it’s so cool, this guy’s the world heavyweight champion wrestler, and he’s from our high school.’ We were just geeked out on it.”
Although EPIC is currently a small group, they are always on the lookout for others interested in their vision. “We are open to having new and upcoming artists, anyone that has a little bit of inspiration and wants to come along,” Martinez said. EPIC is focused primarily on the illustrative arts, but Martinez said they will consider other genres as well. “We actually encourage them to send a portfolio and a resume to the EPIC website or email, where they can get into contact with us,” he said.
Martinez is excited by the recent growth happening in El Paso, and he hopes others are as well.
“I honestly just want to be a part of it,” he said. “I want culture to grow. There are a lot of people that are discouraged and want to move to a different town where the art scene is already made, but you have to start somewhere. You have to get people that are motivated enough to do it.”
‘Southwest Iconica: El Paso’
presented by EPIC
2nd Floor Gallery, 205 E. San Antonio
Thursday-Saturday, July 25-27
Thursday opening night: doors open at 6 p.m.
Friday, July 26: 1-7 p.m.
Saturday, July 27: 1-5 p.m.
For more information,