Sprinting toward Babylon - Page 4

Conrad Ruiz paints the speed-record horror and hilarity of contemporary life
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The alternative was for us to be on our own, and they knew we had a lot of Latino friends, so of course I was just going to get into trouble. So I was enrolled in soccer and taekwando. I was a sprinter in high school, and I was on the football team.

[The paintings] are a culmination of all the things you're talking about. The outfits these athletes wear are designed to be eye-catching, with these primary colors. The Denver Broncos have that awesome dark blue with orange ...

SFBG I love that combo. I just put together a sports cinema program with a film curator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and when I'd introduce a movie from the 1970s, I'd always mention the athletic fashions.
CR Everything is designed to be the most freaking amazing thing possible, because these people are performing acts that no one else can do — they're leaping through the air catching a ball thrown from very far away while wearing purple and yellow. The performance and exertion is incredible, and at the same time, what can make it even greater is being in a stadium where everyone is screaming their lungs out at the same time. Whether it's an epic win or colossal failure, it's still that climax. The climax doesn't mean that it's good — it's a peak of performance.

When I'd meet with advisors at CCA [California College of the Arts], we'd really break it down, and they could easily talk me out of making my work. When you get down to it, what I'm doing is a little ineffective, and what would be more effective, to really get my idea across, would be to just play soccer with a group. I'd be performing, I'd be creating these intimate male relationships. I could actually be slapping some guy's butt instead of painting around it. Joining a soccer team would be more efficient.

SFBG Maybe you and Luke [Butler, a fellow Silverman Gallery artist whose work engages with masculinity] should join a soccer team.
CR [Laughs] Yeah.

SFBG There is some commonality between your work, and also some major differences.
CR I think it's because I'm the boy and Luke is the dashing man. I'm looking to be a man and trying to figure out what a man is, while Luke is a dashing man looking sideways.

CONRAD RUIZ: COLD, HARD AND WET
Fri/11 through Jan. 30, 2010
Silverman Gallery
804 Sutter, SF
(415) 255-9508
www.silverman-gallery.com

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