by Emily Chaney
It’s Saturday, March 18th. Leaving my sweats, television, and usual married-Saturday-night at home, I venture onto Park City’s Main Street. Starting at the top of the street and walking down, I end up in front of Chester’s Blacksmith clothing store. The large windows display images of bold, simple, striking faces. Throngs of people come and go-this seems to be a hot spot!
Curious, I enter, and am immediately greeted at the door by a handsome twenty-something telling me it’s the opening reception for artist Justin Tolentino. Loud vibrations from DJ Honna’s spinning spill out the door as I walk up the stairs. Along the corridor my eyes catch colorful artwork hanging from chains-something you can’t miss!
The space has warm bright lighting, which reflects off the stark white walls. Clothes are displayed neatly folded on wooded shelves and hanging from steel clothing racks. Casually dressed people mingle over cold refreshing beverages, discussing the work of guest artist Justin Tolentino.
Tolentino’s pieces are on every available wall space, hanging from the ceiling and even in the dressing rooms! Justin comments on his work, “Through my experience as a dedicated graffiti writer, I have taken that drive that I have and would use to explode on a wall to my canvases. Graffiti writers live their lives just to make their mark on anything they see fit. Living a simple life, striving only to alter the urban environment and thus creating something new from the old cities in which we live in, something that is uniquely theirs.”
When asked to classify his work, Justin states, “I would call it Urban Contemporary art.” Tolentino is getting his work out not only through gallery shows, but also through less traditional avenues such as: t-shirts, stickers, and especially the web (referred to as “bombing”).
This “Urban Contemporary art,” along with “Pop Surrealism,” “Lowbrow,” “Graffiti,” and “Post-Graffiti,” attracted store owner Jeff Wardell to get involved in the underground art movement by showing various artists from around the world in his store, which just opened in October 2005. “It’s an incredible story about an exploding art movement with roots on the East & West Coasts,” Wardell comments.
While living in San Francisco, close friends introduced him to this style, and it quickly became an obsession. He has combined his love for art with his passion for fashion! It’s important to Wardell that men enjoy the store’s experience, and he achieves this by providing a hip environment with all the latest name-brand clothing. People have the opportunity to check-out urban artists and browse the store’s tabletop book collection, such as Graffiti World and Weirdo Deluxe. All this and they even carry unique shoes and T-shirts designed by artists.|5|
Chester’s Blacksmith clothing store provides both the customer and artist an exciting environment to explore both fashion and art. Artists looking to show their work in a place with plentiful lighting, excellent street traffic, and an all-around cool place, would do well by hanging their work at Chester’s Blacksmith clothing store.
Justin Tolentino’s work will be shown now thru May 5th, or if you don’t have a chance to pop by the store go to his site at www.studiotolentino.com. To explore the store through the web go to www.chestersblacksmith.com Another interesting site and magazine that dips into the underground art movement is www.juxtapoz.com
Emily Chaney, after graduating in 2002 from the University of Utah with a Fine Arts degree, began writing for 15 Bytes as a way to stay connected to the Utah arts community. She is now the Gallery Manager for the Terzian Galleries on Park City’s Main Street.