Jorge Guillen was born in Bakersfield California August 21, 1981 and resides in the city of Lamont, California. (Guillen, pictured with "Commandante Zapata", Latin Nation art show Metro Galleries 2011) His artistic influences from child hood included his father and brother Epemenio Guillen and Epitacio Guillen. Currently enrolled and plans to graduate from Cal-State University Bakersfield in fall 2012 with a BA in U.S. History with a concentration in Chicano Studies with minors in Sociology, Art History and Art Studio. 2005 marked an important transition in Guillen's life that would change his entire perspective and outlook on life. He began to understand that he needed to concentrate on his art and make art his way of life. This was a decision he took knowing that there could be no turning back. During this time Jorge began working as an after school art instructor at the Downtown Elementary in Bakersfield, California. He was able to instruct his young students the artistic techniques he was learning at the university level ranging from cubism, De Stijl, (German for "the style"), cubism, fauvism and other basic drawing skills. He would continue his work as an art instructor at a Bakersfield non-profit organization known nationally as the Boys and Girls Club, through the summer of 2011. Working as a mentor with these at risk youth, Jorge was able to focus their talents as budding artists onto the canvas and other various mural projects. A majority of his students had no previous art experience prior to his instruction and would leave his art program with a strong sense of self confidence in themselves and were not afraid of other challenges because of it. The sense of empowerment that he was able to pass along to the next generation is what Guillen feels the most proud of. Annual Art festivals were created that focused on art work developed by the youth under Jorge's instruction.
During his time working with various youth, Jorge began to understand that there was a strong need for graffiti art to be re-introduced in such a way that went beyond the negative definition that it currently represents. The re-introduction of graffiti as a viable art genre in his eyes needed to acknowledge the concepts of the "Barrio", "Ghetto", and "Hood" that was afflicted by the vandalism and illegal defacement of public and private property, by creating artwork with a positive outlook within those very communities. The new art-style that was created as a reaction to the negative perspective of graffiti was called "Urban Culturalism," which sought to bridge the gap between community and graffiti. By combining complimentary colors on the color wheel and the fundamental idea behind "Cubism"(shapes), with redefinitions of the Mayan Codices and other hieroglyphics from Meso-America and around the world, to create an image that included everyone within the community. The complimentary colors represented the bright palette of the graffiti artist, to give them a sense of acknowledgement within the scope of the image. The use of two opposite colors on the color-wheel forces the brain to interpret the two colors with the equal intensity, where neither color is stronger than the other. Examples of these color combinations include blue and yellow, green and red. By using these colors an artist would be able to represent an array of interpretations that include symbolism and nationalism. The fundamental concept of cubism in the idea of shapes is an inherent part of graffiti. The shapes of modern cities are often replaced with the shapes of ancient cities within Urban-Culturalism, to bridge modern times to a cosmic past. Mayan hieroglyphics and reinterpretations of other glyphs allows there to be a strong sense of cultural context, where every piece of imagery and color is representative of a much bigger picture created for everyone. The combination of these re-interpreted hieroglyphics within the artwork creates an image for the entire community as a whole and encourages young graffiti artist not to deface private and public property surrounding the mural.
In 2009, Jorge Guillen would collaborate with Bakersfield artist Sebastian Muralles for the first time as they were featured artists for the 2009 Arvin Green arts festival. They were hand selected by the Arts Council of Kern County and Price Environmental to paint an empty water tank that lay adjacent to the Green arts festival at Smotherman Park in Arvin, California. Muralles painted the surrounding Sierra Nevada's seamlessly on to the bottom half of the tank, while Guillen painted the top half that represented the sky with the colors of the Arvin wildflowers. Guillen and Muralles were once again picked in 2009 by the Arts Council of Kern County, Valley Oaks charter school and the Kern County Museum, as assistants to Los Angeles muralist Eloy Torrez to collaborate on a mural that would depict the multicultural diversity of Kern County. The students of Valley Oaks did research on residents of Kern County that had made significant contributions to the county and the nation. The finished mural would mark the first mural within Kern County that depicted farm labor leader Dolores Huerta and one of the only culturally diverse murals in the county. Jorge Guillen had the honor and privilege of being chosen by Eloy Torrez to be in the mural itself. Guillen is depicted as a "campesino", farm laborer, and is representative of all farm laborers' past, present and future. He represents the people who are working under the sun and picking the fruits and vegetables that the rest of the world consumes, an often never represented people. This link allows you to navigate through the mural and the various contributions made by the students of Valley Oaks charter school. http://www.kcmuseum.org/stories/storyReader$1665.
In 2009 Jorge Guillen was picked as one of five artists by the Arts Council of Kern County to lead a revitalization project in the Bakersfield downtown arts district. Fifteen boxes were designated to become existing murals within the downtown arts district while working with at risk youth from the Bakersfield Probation department. All three of his boxes are in the style of "Urban Culturalism"and are located on 18th and 19th st. and H st. alongside the Padre Hotel and 21st and Chester in the downtown arts district of Bakersfield, California. In the summer of 2010 the Arts Council of Kern County in conjunction with Bakersfield probation department won the "Beautiful Bakersfield Award" for the fifteen boxes that were created in the arts district in 2009-2010. Guillen was featured in a Jan 15, 2010, article with an Urban Culturalism mural that depicts the area around his mural in the downtown arts District of Bakersfield, California http://bakersfieldcelebs.com/bc/?p=2911. There are plans for an additional ten boxes for the summer of 2012.
In fall 2010 Jorge Guillen was commissioned by the Bakersfield Sister city Group to Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro, Mexico to create a visage of the city of Bakersfield with the city of Queretaro in celebration of 200 years of Mexican independence and 5 years of continued relations between the two sister cities. Guillen was flown to Mexico City on September 11th, 2010 and would remember that experience as one of the happiest times in his life. The trip showed him the possibilities that his artwork was able to do for him and the enrichment of his life. His painting combined the two cities respective symbols of welcome - the arches of Queretaro's Aqueduct and the Bakersfield sign. Centered in the painting is a young eagle that Guillen says "symbolizes our cities new and rich future." His painting entitled "La Revolucion de Culturismo Urbano: 2010", "The Revolution of Urban Culturalism: 2010", now hangs in the "Palacio Nacional del Presidente",the " National Palace of the President, in Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro, Mexico. The trip intertwined itself into every fabric of his soul and allowed him to see a Mexico united, a Mexico that many other people never get to experience, a Mexico that is never mentioned by American media. http://people.bakersfield.com/home/ViewPost/135228
In spring of 2010 Jorge Guillen began working with the Dolores Huerta Foundation's youth group and the Arts Council of Kern County, on a series of murals in a residential neighborhood of Lamont, California in what is now considered "Chicano Alley". The murals depicted are a mixture of "Urban Culturalism", that is meant to provide the children of Lamont and surrounding Weedpatch and Arvin California with a sense of cultural identity. Images of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata, farm labor leader Dolores Huerta, and intellectual Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz depict a timeline for public to be aware that the struggle for the equality of all peoples continues. Original sketches done by the youth group are used throughout the murals and are painted by them as well.
These young individuals have since organized within themselves to create another mural in Lamont completely independent of other agencies and non-profits. They created Kern County's first permanent outdoor gallery in the city of Lamont, something only seen in the Mission district of San Francisco north of Kern county or the streets of East Los Angeles south of Kern County. The images used at "Chicano Alley', can be translated as graffiti but are used to acknowledging the young graffiti artist so she or he will not feel the need to tag or deface the murals within Chicano Alley because the images are theirs . By showing these images alongside each other we hope to convey a strong sense of pride for the community and within the individual. http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x2120045695/Urban-murals-brush-aside-graffiti-in-Lamont.
In fall of 2010 Jorge Guillen took second place at the Metro Galleries of Bakersfield Latino based show Latin Nation II for his image of revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata. 2011 made it clear that without his education the life of a starving artist is no joke but a cruel reality in which only the strong and steadfast are allowed survive as artists. Guillen was mentioned in an article for the Metro Galleries Latination- III as one of the featured artists of the show for a mixed media piece on Emiliano Zapata, you can check out the link for further reading. http://issuu.com/eyeentertainment/docs/eyestreet9_1_11.
In this last year of the fifth sun, 2012 Jorge Guillen took "Best in Show" and Second place at The Foundry Art Galleries of Bakersfield, for their recycled art show, Trash to Treasure. His two images were based on the combination of Piet Mondrian's "De Stijl" and Jackson Pollack's "Abstract Expressionism". Jorge Guillen gathers his inspiration from everything and everyone around him and the perspective gained through his education. He tells people that;" When I wake up in the morning sun I am not concerned with reality, I am reminded that I still have a dream to chase." Guillen is blessed enough to understand that he has the ability to continue chasing his dream.
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