Meno and his partners were putting the finishing touches on their piece at Mountain View's MTS Gallery on November 16. The graffiti artist, whose work I shot for this blog just last week, was clearly uncomfortable being photographed. He said it was fine, though, if I didn’t photograph his face, so I didn’t.
The graffiti wall for the upcoming Pop 11 show is huge, about 92 inches tall and 52 feet long. The gallery show is one of several Andy Warhol-themed events which coincide with the Warhol exhibit now on display at the Anchorage Museum. That inspiration is plain to see in Meno’s work. His stencil paintings of 40-ounce Old English malt liquor bottles repeated in a manner deliberately reminiscent of Warhol's Coca-Cola Bottles. Meno’s liquid varies in color from gold to cloud gray to blood red. Liquid occasionally appears to bleed from the bottles in a manner that couldn’t be mistaken sloppy work. Overlaying the bottle images is a portrait of a friend and painting collaborator.
Meno said he connects to Warhol in his own art. “He stopped being a fine artist and started simplifying his work,” he said. In his adaptation of the concept, Meno made four stencils to create the face on the wall. Each one, when sprayed over, masked a different color of paint. The technique gives the face a three dimensional quality. The forethought and craftsmanship involved certainly didn’t look simple, though the result is clean and striking. He stuck with an alcohol theme to reflect what he has seen in his neighborhood, he said. Meno lives in Mountain View.
The result is the largest multi-layer stencil work he’s created to date. And for as recognizable his art has become in the city, this is only the second time Meno’s work has been displayed in a gallery. That’s just not where graffiti art is usually seen. I asked if he was nervous to straddle both worlds – the underground creative circles and the wine-sipping gallery crowds. A soft-spoken guy, he answered simply. “Yes.”
The Pop 11 showcase at MTS Gallery opens Friday, November 19th, 5:30 7:30pm.