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Meet Jorge Mujica of CACtTUS in East LA, Long Beach, Tijuana, Mexico

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jorge Mujica.

Jorge, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m an artist and curator using the alias CACtTUS @cacttus_itx to create collaborative freestanding paintings. I started using the term freestanding paintings (FSPs) while completing my MFA at Yale University. Studying Henri Matisse, Jean Dubuffet, and Kieth Haring, I found a connection using line drawings and cutouts to understand my creative inflection. My discovery was an inert inflection activating positive and negative space by not overlapping my gesture. It took a great deal of rehearsal to reach a nuanced understanding to make designs stand independently.

In this respect, my research identified critical questions regarding the activation of physical space as a painter. In response to my research, I questioned why paintings need a wall at all if the wall represents authority. Ask your self, Who owns the wall? How does the wall support the physical or conceptual gesture? What value does the wall offer the image? Is there and accord between the wall and the artwork, or is the border used without permission? These questions have practical answers such as yes, hook, and nails in the bathroom of a private home or hotel lobby… But in the broader scheme, the painting’s relationship to the wall is more complex, revealing socio-economic relationships.

What motivated me to use physical space as a painter was the independence to flex my autonomy to engage public and private space without authority. Personally, the most rewarding feeling is the capacity to follow through and realize independent ideas. This core understanding motivates me to exist and feel the sweetness of struggle as I learn to fail, listen, and communicate. CACtTUS created a forum for literal transformations of urban spaces with a coalition’s cooperation. Recently CACtTUS contributed to The Los Angeles Rotterdam project (LARp), an exchange between 16 alternative art spaces in Rotterdam and Los Angeles. CACtTUS and Rotterdam Art And Radio (RAAR) create a video collaboration titled “Exhuberance” featuring audible contributions by Rotterdam artist improvising sound elements featuring Nicole Martens (NL), Robert Kroos (NL), Henrietta Müller (RO), Alexander Iezzi (US), Bergur Thomas Anderson (IS), Joshua Thies (US). Video projections and editing by Krystel Rascon of No Space in Mexico City and physical sculpture collaborations with David Pena and Luis Martinez from Out Here in Tijuana, Mexico. I encourage you to Visit larp.hotglue.me for more information. Coming up September 18-October 31, CACtTUS will participate in The Other Places Art Fair, and I’m excited to see how the virtual engagement via opaf.info comes out, so stay tuned and follow @otherplacesartfair on IG.

While CACtTUS has been a large aspect of my creative life, I still work independently. In 2019, I was fortunate to complete my first public sculpture for the City of Long Beach and the Museum of Latin American Art at Gumbiner Park. My line drawing’s digital simulacrum was created by cutting a sheet Aerospace aluminum with a waterjet and then painted using a stenciling technique recycling the shapes within the design to create layers and optical depth. The project took three years and is Titled “Long Beach High Five.” The drawing highlights multiple colloquial landmarks and offers duplicity of experiences activated by sun shadows. At night, optical changes occur on the surface via the uplight LEDs, which change our perception of the sculpture’s surface color. I welcome everyone to visit it at 800 E 7th St, Long Beach, CA 90802.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
CACtTUS, as a whole, has been an incredible adventure loaded with experiences challenging my temperament and tolerance for other’s processes and time frames. It taught me to let go and allow others to lead while simultaneously creating opportunities for my curatorial drive to grow. In a sense, since grad school, I have worked diligently on my pedagogy towards making art and enriching the process of collaboratively taking creative risk via CACtTUS. I should note that CACtTUS collaborations vary in scale and materials, so many times, the ideas that manifest are entirely new to me, pushing my comfort and forcing me to be a witness. That said, it has been great to build a community through CACtTUS because, in the end, everyone who contributes adds to the artistic vocabulary, which has manifested project after project.

Please tell us about CACtTUS.
Things I love about living in Los Angeles is the vast metropolitan community. It’s incredibly inspiring to see so many different cultures and languages. But it’s so big that sometimes the effort to move from one place to another can be a hurdle. At times the distance stagnates the cross-pollination of ideas and complicates participation. That said, growing up in such a rich driving culture makes me want to extend my network and encourages me to connect cities like Los Angele to Long Beach, San Diego, and Tijuana.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would take it easy; listening is a crucial component for success. Listening is not only an audible thing either; it can be getting comfortable with your skin. For three years, Creative Arts Coalition to Transform Urban Space was ambitiously active in Long Beach. Learning how to collaborate with people is challenging, and the more in tune I can be with myself, the easier it is to focus on the joy that comes from creating in tandem. Had I listened to myself, perhaps relishing in each experience would have augmented each memory.

Pricing:

  • I’m available for custom table top commissions starting at $300 email for waiting list.
  • Prints starting at $20 are also available please email studiomujica@gmail.com for PDF
  • Coloring book available $5 venmo @jorgemujica with coloring book and send address via message

Contact Info:

  • Email: Studiomujica@gmail.com
  • Instagram: Studio_Mujica / CACtTUS_itx


Image Credit:

Image 1: Introduers, Collaboration with Rocco Ruglio-Misurell, Berlin, German 2018. Image 2: CACtTUS Patch, 15 collaboration, Other Places Art Fair, San Pedro CA, 2019, Image 3: Long Beach High Five, Gumbinder Park, Long Beach CA, 2019, Image 4: Xochiquetzal Y Su Amigo En Chinga, Hi-Bye, Mexico City, 2020, Image 5: Nubes Por El Exceso, Qipo Art Fair, Mexico City. 2020, Image 6: Lagrimas Por El Rio Bravo, Museo, Casa del Ahuizote, Mexico City, 2020, Image 7: Despondent In Time Of Corona, Studio Mujica, East Los Angeles CA, 2020, Image 8: This Moment — Cornas And Thoughts, Monterrey, Mexico, 2020

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