CENTRL Office got to know one of our favorite local artists Edmund ‘Mundo’ Holmes. You might have noticed his work hanging at the CENTRL eastside location. Holmes is an avid drawer whose surrealistic subjects delve into an array of influences such as graffiti, dance, sports, music, and illustration. We asked Holmes the Detroit native—now residing in Portland—a range of interview questions that span from topics such as his recent travels, virtual reality, and his artwork amongst other things. All images have been provided by Holmes and updates and more about him can be found on his website and Instagram page.
- CENTRL: Where is your art headed? What lies in-store for future Mundo projects? Any art openings or events we can see your new work in?
- HOLMES: The common thread in my artwork is that it serves as a personal narrative about me to some extent. I see my art evolving with my experiences and what I see going on in the world. I want to get sharper in what I am trying to express through my art- maybe through more series. As for where you can see my work; I just displayed 5 pieces in New York for Pensole’s World Sneaker Competition. Future shows: Aesthete Society will be throwing our third event this year, through no confirmed date yet. Aesthete Society is a small group of four (including myself, Amir Morgan, Risa Beck and Qadira Morgan), and we focus on creating experiences through the lens of art and beauty. Our last show had displays with different styles of designed overalls, ballerinas, a cellist, a lot of art and interactive section. http://goo.gl/ODSQHA
- CENTRL: What brings you joy?
- HOLMES: I find joy in everyday life, family, friends, dancing, creativity, and positivity.
- CENTRL: What makes you angry?
- HOLMES: Disrespect, ignorance, profiling, racism, and of course student loans ha
- CENTRL: What makes you love Portland and what makes you stay?
- HOLMES: I like that nature is so accessible as well as the cool and funky people I’ve met here. I stay because it is the right place for me to be at, in this chapter of my life. It feels right; I’ve met a lot of cool people and have gotten the opportunity to be a part of lots of cool things.
- CENTRL: What do you miss about Detroit?
- HOLMES: I miss my family the most. Second- I miss the culture and attitude. The Detroit hustle is unmatched… there is a rawness to the city that produces a lot of unique perspectives.
- CENTRL: For better or for worse, what makes you energized about life?
- HOLMES: The thing that energizes me the most is any opportunity to learn and grow. These are normally influenced by experiencing new things, good conversations, traveling and meeting people.
- CENTRL: What is your favorite animal?
- HOLMES: Wild animals I like ducks, tigers and bears. Domestic animals I love dogs. And fish. I’d like to have a German Pinscher and a huge aquarium filled with fish, sharks etc.
- CENTRL: There are a lot of themes straddled in your work; figures flying, sneakers, and tons of movement? What are some of your biggest inspirations for finding your subjects?
- HOLMES: It all comes down to people. I find most of my inspiration from just being out and observing people. Everyone has their own unique look and personality… Especially the wallflowers; I try to pick up on something that not everyone sees and then blend it into scenes that I either imagine or remember from something else. My favorite thing to do is walk around and imagine how people or landscapes would look drawn in my style. This is how I’ve come up with ideas for my illustrations for as long as I can remember.
- The themes that you have picked up on revolve around the things that I tend to obsess over: dance, style, music, graffiti… Stylistically these things just find their way into my work.
- CENTRL: I see that you were educated at CCS and Pensole Academy. How would you describe what it takes to persevere academically and what does it take to get the job you want in the end? Any advance to the dreamers out there?
- HOLMES: It takes heart, courage, consistency and hard work. I’ve been told no and overlooked a ton of times but I didn’t allow that to stop me. Every “No” is only a no for right now, and it must not be time yet. So, I grind and continue to work at it. Timing, hard work and perseverance.
- Here is my best advice to the dreamers: Find something that makes you happy and get after it fearlessly. Also- learn, learn, learn. Be humble and confident at the same time.
- CENTRL: There’s this artist Stephanie Buer. She spent a decade photographing and taking pictures of Detroit’s “ruins” and also went to College for Creative Studies like yourself. She paints photo-realistic oil paintings of abandoned buildings, with that in mind do you have any views on this type of subject matter? Abandonment, loss, post-industrial cities, gentrification? Any thoughts on this or on the gentrification happening in this community?
- HOLMES: I like her work- in many instances it brings up memories from growing up in Detroit. The abandonment of the city is sad when you look at it through the lens of politics and economy… but her work touches on what makes is to interesting too. I recognize some of the places in her paintings- but they’re unfamiliar to me now. It’s weird seeing photographs or paintings of places that I remember one way, and now see completely abandoned. On the other hand, this time in history also exposed what makes residents of Detroit cool and unique too. The art and graffiti that has come out of this time has added to the uniqueness of the city.
- As for gentrification– I have plenty of opinions on this subject matter. Gentrification removes the realness, rawness and heart from a place and inserts a false reality. Pushing the very people and communities who have held it down for years, sucking out all their culture and not offering solutions but rather, a band aid… all of that makes me feel some type of way. Sure, I understand the concept and the thought—but you’re removing all the For Life Detroiters and making it unaffordable for them to live there. I’ve also heard the argument that many of the residents WANT to move out, but if you zoom out and see that it’s because of the way things had been set up initially by the politics of a city—it’s a pretty weak argument.
CENTRL: I read an article recently from the New York Times saying that Detroit received 65,000 new streetlights in the city and certain local business owners are seeing improvements in traffic. What similarities or differences do you see in Detroit’s community versus the new developments that are happening here?
- HOLMES: Ive been in Portland for almost 7 years now. In those 7 years, the change has been quick and extreme. I do appreciate the effort to make the city a more inviting and safe place to live as well as helping local businesses and bonding the community.
- CENTRL: Do you see art as political? What are some of the main themes and ideas you are expressing in your work? One piece I saw from your Instagram that stuck with me was this
- and maybe naively I was relating this image to recent protests and demonstrations that have been happening in our country this past year. Do daily political events play apart in your work?
- HOLMES: That specific post was inspired completely by an editorial I saw from @artcomesfirst on highsnobiety.
Yes, art IS political. Nowadays, art is one of the only ways you can express what you’re truly thinking or feeling—and that is powerful. I took a trip to Korea at the end of last year and witnessed the start of the million man march in Seoul. Seeing that so soon after our own U.S. Election drove home the power and responsibility that we have as citizens, to come together and do what’s right. Mundo’s Instagram
I have been using a strict palette of white, black and red. It was inspired by the idea that we are all different nationalities, religions, sexual orientation but we all bleed red.
Yes daily political events affects my art and in many cases affects me. There are things that I have experienced uniquely because of my color; so in many ways daily political events are not so separate from my everyday life. On the other hand technology/apps definitely will give you currents events and share a lot of emotions of the world and individuals.
- CENTRL: I was looking at your Instagram and noticed your glass drawings with the backdrop of a couple metropolis’s. Where were you in Asia?
- HOLMES: Yes, I visited Busan, Korea and Tai Chung, Taiwan. When I travel I like to draw on the windows in the morning or at night random things or things that I have seen on my journey. Initially I wanted to start leaving the illustrations on the windows as a special treat to the next guest, but I believe the hotels would charge me for damages. It would be cool to do special rooms in hotels and offices windows with my art as a special feature. Mundo’s Instagram
- CENTRL: These glass drawings reminded me of the new Google Tilt brush, (article here): Are you interested in virtual reality and how this could be applied to your artwork? If so how?
- HOLMES: I’ve tried this before, this made my day when I tried it. It was so exciting. Yes I am interested in virtual reality, it’s a cool way to experience your drawing strokes in 3d. Being able to look over and walk around a brush stroke you made is super cool. Imagine how cool animation could be. I have been on the journey or bringing my 2d illustrations into 3d. This could be a start.