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SPRAYING ART

Alvarado behind art placed around Manteca

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SPRAYING ART

Frank Alvarado with one of his custom painted skateboards.

Photo contributed/


POSTED February 24, 2013 11:59 p.m.

There is Banksy – the mysterious British street artist that has painted political statements on walls in the Gaza Strip and hilarious scenes on buildings in New York City.

People have been known to chip away entire sections of plaster once one of his works is discovered.

There is Invader – the French street artist that uses mosaic tiles to recreate the characters from the popular late 1970’s video game Space Invaders in cities throughout the work.

Then there is Frank Alvarado – the local father of two and avid skateboarder that spent two nights last month driving around Manteca with 30 paint canvases and determining where would the best spot to plant them.

It might not have been a practice endorsed by the City of Manteca, but for Alvarado – who grew up during the heyday of skateboarding and learned early-on that it is linked to art of all types – it was a chance to introduce a little bit of beauty into an otherwise drab world.

“Some I would put in a bush and others I would hang by a wire on somebody’s fence – it made me happy,” he said. “I drove back around to where I dropped them off the next day to see if they were still there and they were all gone. I’d like to think that people all of them home – that they appreciated my work enough to go through the effort to put in their cars and take it into their homes.

“A lot of artists – we’re our own worst critic. When somebody tells you, ‘Oh, that’s so rad,’ and you just don’t see it. It’s hard sometimes to take a compliment. But seeing those gone the next morning was a great compliment.”

It didn’t take long for Alvarado to learn that he had a knack for navigating Manteca on two wheels with a group of friends that all went on to be lifelong skateboarders.

While tricks, style and attitude are all part of the identity of those who skate, the easel is the board itself – the confluence of the smooth deck bottom and the tacky grip tape that gave each of Alvarado’s friends a chance to express themselves.

“Everybody is tied to his or her own art and skateboarding style,” he said. “Everyone has their own style that is unique to them – they pick something that they’re good at express that in own creative ways. I might do my grip tape the same way every time while somebody else does theirs the same way every time – it’s unique to everyone.”

And Alvarado’s style is very specific.

Everything that he throws up on canvas is done with spray paint – homage to the old school graffiti artists that he grew up watching and learning from. That style, he said, has a huge impact on the kind of art that he creates today.

All he needs to unwind is a respirator, some music and his own thoughts – the perfect recipe for hours to melt from the clock.

“It’s recreation for me. Some people read and some people go on the treadmill and I go into the back room and paint,” he said. “I throw on my headphones and my mask and spray paint until the wee hours of the morning. “

It’s also a family thing in Alvarado’s household.

His two sons – Indio, 11, and Ezra, 6 – have taken to expressing themselves artistically like fish to water. Ezra, Alvarado says, walks around the house with a sketchbook and writes everything down and doodles – a practice he picked up from his father.

“We’re just very art driven,” he said. “We paint and draw and doodle and stop to see the beauty in things in the world that other people ignore. It’s a chance to stop and look at it.”

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