Halsi. Painter. Henao Party Starter. Orlando Figure. None/All of the Above.
matthew warhol: I wanted to start off with art talk because I don’t really get a chance to talk about painting. Repetition is prominent in your work, whether it’s the character or noses or patterns. Could you go into that a bit? What are these things?
Halsi: The character was the first stepping stone for me in developing a style. I had been painting and drawing for years and never came across a style, something that gave me a sense of identity in the Orlando scene. I started doing the character and a friend of mine, Chris Tobar, he was like, “Yo, I really like this. You should keep doing these characters.” They were a little different back then. I kept doing them, but got to the point where I didn’t want to do them anymore. The noses came about my junior year of high school. I was in this alternative school called Chancery. Everyday, I’d draw faces over and over again. I got to the point where I could draw them anyway, huge, small. I like the repetition because it’s like a logo, instead of a business it’s a concept or an idea.
matthew warhol: People see the figure or the noses and they know it’s you. Specifically with the man or the nose, do you attach meaning to them?
Halsi: Um, there’s meaning to certain ones. Um, the character has the most meaning. The first character I did was like an archetype artist. You know how sometimes I have stuff inside of them, intestines and things? The whole concept was based on approaching somebody. Let’s say you see somebody walking up to you, and they’re walking on two legs. There’s this silhouette. It’s the first thing you see before you see their face—or whether it’s a girl or a boy. You’re like, “Oh, it’s a human.” You go from there. The more learn about them, the more you get to know them, the more things appear inside of them. The stuff that matters is all the stuff that appears inside of them. It’s like getting to know somebody. With my characters, you still don’t know what they look like. They’re… uh… genderless.
matthew warhol: And so this stuff *pointing to empty figure* it seems more like uh… like a shadow.
Halsi: I think it’s more with the branding when it’s a blank thing. It could be a baby. Or it could be somebody who doesn’t have much going on.
matthew warhol: I’ve seen your imagery in different spaces too, paintings, wheat paste--you’ve done purses, jackets, jeans. I also know you’ve done murals for businesses. You’re able to put your art literally everywhere. Seeing the imagery in all these different places, there’s a street art element involved.
Halsi: I like street art in Orlando because it’s almost like a taboo. It’s cool because you know you’re going to get noticed. Any other city, there’s so many figures and wheat pastes and tags and stickers. I don’t really feel like I’m participating in culture, I feel like I’m one of the only people doing it. There are other people doing it, but not as prolifically.
matthew warhol: Were you tagging even before you were painting?
Halsi: Yeah, I was never good at doing graffiti, like the letters.
matthew warhol: For me, I feel like your work is a mixture of street and fine art. And something cool about the Henao Center is that they accept both. There's a gallery inside, but outside people can do large scale murals on the storage container and on the walls. And it’s constantly changing. How did you get involved with Henao?
Halsi: I was doing an art show over there and was just hanging outside with Jose. I saw a tattoo he had, at the bottom of it, it said “1973.” I’m a part of B-Side Artists—it’s a collective of artists, lot of older cats. One of the members, Palin Perez Jackson, he would paint “1973” in a bunch of his work. Seven or eight years ago, he got shot by the police—that was right when I was getting into the art scene, I was 11 or 12. Jose is a B-Side artist. We were talking and he said, “Yeah, I dropped off after Palin died because we were really tight.” We automatically clicked. I ended up crashing there for a month after some plans to move to Houston fell through. And that’s when I did Cultural Canopy.
matthew warhol: Had you put together shows like that before?
Halsi: No, it had a lot to do with the venue. With Henao, I can basically do anything. I can have people paint any wall; I can hang anything; I can come a week before and set up. I don’t really like curating shows.
matthew warhol: Why?
Halsi: Because it’s…
matthew warhol: Stressful?
Halsi: Yeah, before I didn’t have to ever hit anyone up. I could just do my own thing. Now, it’s so confusing. I have to stay on top of it.
matthew warhol: I’ve slowed down booking lately because I found I wasn’t having much fun at my own events. I was constantly running around like, “You good? You good? You good?” So like, going from creating a painting to creating an event, I see a connection between the two. You have a vision of how the thing is going to turn out. What are the differences for you?
Halsi: Compared to a painting… I don’t know. I can knock it out all at once. An event is a month or two month journey until the pay off. I think that it’s funny that when you did events, you’d be stressed out trying to have everything run smoothly. When I do events, I just get drunk and everyone else figures it out. I don’t know anything about sound. Even if I was available, I wouldn’t be much help.
matthew warhol: So for Sugar Daddy Splash Zone, what’s going to be different?
Halsi: It’s going to be hot. Aside from that, I’m going to have five kiddie pools set up on the outdoor stage. The performers will perform in the kiddie pools. There will also be 142 six-packs of of ramen noodles stacked in a pyramid in the middle of the gallery.
matthew warhol: What's that about?
Halsi: It’s just wacky. I always think of summer as wild, lighting off fireworks or jumping off of bridges. I’ve always had the idea of a ramen noodle pyramid, but I’ve never had the right setting. The pop ups will be in the gallery, and where the bar is, the indoor stage, will be all the art hanging on the walls. Outside there will be two self-standing mural walls with artists painting them. I’m excited to see the final product. I like changing everything—everything is completely altered. You’re in a different place. You're at the Sugar Daddy Splash Zone.
matthew warhol: That goes back to what we were saying with creating a painting, the Henao is like the canvas you can play with. *Referencing something we were talking about previous to recording* Tell me about the water bottle thing? Can you speak on that?
Halsi: I can say that it’s called “The Water Bottle Project,” and it’s going to be… we’re packaging water from places the water is polluted—let’s say the Keystone Pipeline. I’m creating label designs for it. And we’re selling it. It’s very satire. It’s like, this water is coming out of their shower and going onto their skin, so let’s bottle it. It’s really fucked up though.
matthew warhol: What do you mean?
Halsi: Water quality all across America and beyond—how they found pharmaceuticals in the water. I think it could be a groundbreaking art piece.
matthew warhoL: I’m trying to bring it all in in my mind. Whether it’s doing events or painting or the water bottle thing, I’m trying to get an overall idea of how you look at art, these projects.
Halsi: I don’t like a label. I’m not anything in particular. I have my style. I can also do events. It’s just creating stuff. It doesn’t make me an artist. I just like making stuff.
matthew warhol: Where does that come from, the desire to create?
Halsi: Um… it’s not me. It’s almost like everything I’m creating—that people are looking at—they’re looking at it more than they’re looking at me. It’s less narcissistic way to stay relevant. I love it when younger people will come up to me and compliment me on my art. I can see that they’re very awe inspired, like they could do the same thing. It’s very simple. It’s not a complex character. It’s just doing it.
matthew warhol: Who was that person for you? Who made you want to do it?
matthew wahrol: Who is that?
Halsi: Chris Rodriguez Tobar. He’s the first guy I met that got me into the scene. I think I was nine or ten. He gave me a flyer to this skateboard art show. And you go to that art show and get a flyer for another art show.
matthew warhol: You were nine?
Halsi: Yeah, I was nine or ten. And I think that’s why I stuck out, being a little kid and going out. I started meeting people and they’d remember me because of that fact. I wasn’t really doing art at that time, either. But then I started and became a part of B-Side Artists. Tobar got me into it, and he still gives my opportunities now.
mattew warhol: What are some goals you have for your work?
Halsi: Uh, I want to travel, definitely leave the United States—I’ve never done that. Paint cool things, not normal stuff. If someone had a boat, I’d like to paint a boat so every week I’m doing something different. I think that’s why I’ve been bouncing around for so long. I just like being in different places creating.