You may have seen her face on a local street corner or under an overpass while driving down the freeway, but once you see her for the first time, you’ll see her again, everywhere you go. Her name is unknown, but her creator’s name is EXIST1981. What started as a two-color stencil image of a woman’s face, this mysterious icon artist’s work has evolved into images of sewer beasts, hidden messages, wild animals, and on a more recent spiritual aim, mandalas often with pulsating repetition and bright colors emanating from their center.
It’s not often one comes upon EXIST1981 in the wild. He prefers the cover of darkness while creating urban installations and sidewalk dialogues. Like most graffiti artists, EXIST1981 has learned to adapt quickly and accept the realities of the fleeting nature of street art. EXIST1981 has covered the walls at SILO a few times now, interweaving his story as the tides of artists come and go in turn covering the art before them.
Lucky for us, there are several local off-the-street spots where we can enjoy his work for an extended duration of time, like his wheatpaste and painting installations at El Camino Restaurant in Little Italy, Bang Bang in the Gaslamp, The Hub Market in Hillcrest, Cal State San Marcos, The Carnegie in Downtown, Disconnected in North Park, Cucina Urbana SD & Irvine, just to name a few. When not in San Diego exhibiting his fine art with Cohort Collective, EXIST1981 also curates the Neon Desert Festival in his hometown of El Paso, Texas.
What’s behind this drive to create anywhere and everywhere? Whether painted on a wall or printed on your shirt, stuck on a notebook or street sign, EXIST1981 pieces are meant to be accessible to all. No matter the medium, the impetus will always be the creation of one of a kind works.
Photos and article by Carly Ealey
Art independently curated by Chris Konecki. For more information on art in Makers Quarter™ contact: firstname.lastname@example.org