As a security guard at the Seattle Art Museum, Arturo Artorez would often doodle on the employee timecards to pass the long hours. His sketching eventually transformed into miniature works of art in small notebooks, usually in ink, graphite or ballpoint pen. That was over 20 years ago. Now an accomplished artist, both in Seattle and in his hometown of Mexico City, Artorez is known for his depictions of violence, humanity, compassion and protest. See his 94-piece collection of notebook drawings (from 2000 to present-day) at Vermillion.
Read a long but very interesting biography of the artist below:
"Arturo Artorez was born and raised in Mexico City, where he also received his formal education. Time and chance put him in Israel in the summer of 1967, at the exact moment when the Six-Day War erupted on June 5, a combat in which he was forced to participate. After such a horrifying and fortunately brief experience, Artorez was put aboard a ship and sent to America, landing first in San Diego, California and then in Tijuana, Baja California. After spending nearly a month there, he returned to Mexico City where he immediately became involved in the student movement and the popular protest that resulted in the fateful Night of Tlatelolco-the massacre on October 2, 1968, when the Mexican army encircled protesters in the Plaza of the Three Cultures and proceeded to kill some 300 persons, according to official estimates, and arrested 1,300 others with Artorez among them.
Dodging death in an almost fantastic if not miraculous fashion, Artorez left Mexico along with some of the other activists when President Salvador Allende offered them asylum and sent two Chilean Air Force planes to transport them. Arturo left for Ecuador almost immediately only to experience the military coup that deposed president Velasco Ibarra and ushered General Rodriguez Lara into power in February of 1972. Once again, the artist escaped the chaos that followed the coup and after some remarkable adventures, returned to Mexico City. Four years later in 1976 he moved to Seattle, where he has lived ever since.
By the time he arrived in Seattle, Artorez was already an accomplished artist. His works had been exhibited in Canada, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, The United States, Mexico and Peru - at times alongside masters such as Cuevas, Tamayo, Toledo and Guayasamín. His acknowledgments included an honorable mention at the Sixth "Paris Biennial of Young Painters," and art critics in Mexico and elsewhere augured him an auspicious future, 'A career that promises to be brilliant,' wrote one of them at a given point.
In 1988, the same vicissitudes that many artists often face in their struggle to survive while also continuing to practice their craft compelled Artorez to take a job as a security guard at the Seattle Art Museum. To relieve boredom, he began to create ink and pencil drawings on the time cards that the museum used to record the employees' working hours. He also used other 'recyclable' materials such as discarded artwork labels.
A good deal of irony permeates the Arturo's visual commentaries. These poignant statements also allude to the existential condition of the painter himself. Thus, his life experiences and current circumstance become beautifully conjugated with his artistic subjects."