Siriaco Garcia (who goes by the artist moniker Siricasso) is a muralist, painter and event planner currently living in Huxley, a town in the Ames metro area. The Texas native was named a “Rural Regenerator Fellow” this year by Springboard For The Arts and will receive $10,000 to continue his work in Central Iowa.
Little Village sat down with Siricasso to talk about the grant, his upcoming projects and how he got started.
You’ve done murals across Central Iowa. Can you tell us about that?
My first ever mural was in Marshalltown, this was when I was about to graduate, I did a burrito shop out there. And, you know, it never really hit me that I would be able to do murals. But just seeing what all it takes — like perspective and being on ladders and challenging your mind — really just got me into that. And I really wanted to do more. So I started promoting that heavy, and then I started getting more mural opportunities in Ames. And from there it started going and going and started blowing up. So I’ve done a lot of work in Ames. I’ve done four in Huxley and I’ve done about five or six in Des Moines.
How did you get started as an artist?
I loved art since I was young. My older brother was an artist as well, and he would draw portraits and stuff like that — he was really talented. My style was more cartoonish and I like watching Dragon Ball Z and stuff like that. So, you know, when he stopped doing it, I just kept drawing. I never really thought I’d take it seriously because I wanted to play sports and stuff like that in high school. And once my junior year/senior year came around, I started putting more time and effort into my art.
So it was my senior year and I had gotten accepted into art school in Omaha. But at the same time, my mom got deported. And then my dad was back and forth in prison. So I was living with my aunt at the time. I’d go back and forth because my mom and dad would go to Iowa and back to Texas, like a seasonal thing. They’re like the birds, I guess. So, that really affected me heavy. And this is where the storytelling comes for me, because my art teacher at Ames High really helped me put the love into the art. I really got to see the pain inside of the painting, you know?
One of my biggest artists I looked up to was Pablo Picasso, and that’s where Siricasso comes [from]. So, she gave me the Yellow Book of Pablo Picasso and I got to see his stories and everything. So, the very first painting I painted — and I hated painting, I really did hate painting, I only liked to draw. I just didn’t have the patience for it back then. But once I sat down and really took my time on painting, I found it being like therapy to me. I got to be alone with my thoughts and really just deal with what I was dealing with at the time. [I] was paying homage to Pablo Picasso, Guernica … I put my story in it, but still used that cubistic style. So right there I was hooked.
I ended up going to Marshalltown Community College. I really liked the professor there, Tim Castle, super dope guy. He just helped me out a lot with my art career. I owe him a lot of respect for that, for helping me see the art world a lot differently.
What was the process like to apply for the grant?
I had been trying to apply for grants for a while now, because I do host events and most of those events come out of my pocket. So I wanted to find funding for that. I was looking for that aspect of it, but I was also looking for other opportunities for murals and stuff like that. A good friend of mine, Caleb Stevens, he helped me out [to] organize my stuff and put everything together. We saw the opportunity of the Rural Regenerator Fellows program and we loved it. Everything that they were saying was stuff that I was already doing, and we had put the application in. We actually applied for it last year, and I didn’t get it.
I was like, “Oh well, maybe we should try again because my resume’s changed now, because I’ve done more murals. I’ve done more community work and stuff like that.” So we tried it again. I almost forgot that I applied for it because my references were like, “Oh, we just put in a good word for you!” and I was like “What are you guys talking about?” I was doing a mural at Alluvial Brewing and I was over here painting away and then I get the email and I’m like “Holy crap. No way. We just got this!” Yeah, so I’m still very excited just to be a part of that. It’s just amazing. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.
What sort of events will you use the funding for?
I try to have an event every month. Sometimes I do Sip and Paints. The way I do it, I try to switch it up a bit … you become a social butterfly with the alcohol so you’re not going to just follow along. So I like to go around, have one-on-one interactions with them, and just see how they’re doing. And if they need any pointers, I can have that connection with them. It’s better to just have them do their own thing.
Some of the biggest events I like to do are, I mix local music with local art vendors and stuff like that. This is something I do in Ames. I have a couple guys I do it with: Max, Makai and Rodney. It just takes a team to do something like that because you got somebody on the microphone presenting, you got somebody in the background making sure the flow is going good. But we bring artists from all over Central Iowa. Just recently, we had a few artists from Omaha come out. We just want our community to support local artists.
So, that’s one of the big things I like to do: bring people together from all different backgrounds, make them feel comfortable in one space. I try to do it monthly because people are always like, “Iowa is so boring, there’s nothing to do.” They’re always in my ear about it. So, with this funding, we’ll be able to give out more opportunities for more of these artists that have been coming out.
What are you working on right now?
I do have something I do yearly. It’s a solo exhibition that I have for myself called Teenage Nightmares. The reason why I told you the story of the deportation and going to prison and stuff like that, that’s what affected me in my teenage years. Thankfully, I found art because that saved me. And it helped me deal with those issues. I bring it back yearly, around Halloween time, because this is more of a spooky vibe. So that’s when you get the realest version of me and my paintings and stuff like that, and you see some spooky stuff.
Right now, I just opened my commissions back up. And I had a really busy summer. I got to do about four murals and I had two events a month. So it just kept me busy. Right now, I’m just resting and relaxing. The grant is coming up in October, so I have to prepare for that as well. And I have to work on Teenage Nightmares. I’m really just trying to put my all into Teenage Nightmares this year. I really want the art to do a lot of the speaking for that. It’s going to be a very personal show.
Find Siricasso’s work, products and commission information on his website.