The mirror has familiar faces

Eduardo Mendieta's graffiti murals are usually found slapped across the warehouse facades of F.A.T. Village, the Wynwood Art District and nightclubs in West Palm Beach, each sporting the face of a familiar muse: his 8-year-old daughter, Amira.

So tight is their father-daughter bond that the West Palm Beach street artist took inspiration from Amira's childhood playthings – sliding tile puzzles, Tic-Tac-Toe blocks on the playground – to mount Mendieta's newest collaborative exhibit, "Fragmented," now on display at Hollywood's Gallery 2014.

"I paint Amira a lot because she's around me all the time. How can I not be inspired?" the 39-year-old muralist says with a laugh, who assembled the exhibit with friend and North Miami graffiti artist Jay "Remote" Bellicchi. "I love to keep art simple and human, with large stylized faces, leering down at you, contemplating something."

In pairing off with Bellicchi, Mendieta took the gritty wall murals found all over South Florida and re-created them on dozens of vertical canvases, jumbling each panel with what he describes as Bellicchi's "experimental and abstract graffiti lettering." "Fragmented Series #7-9," for example, shows Mendieta's four-panel portrait of a red-haired woman, and wedged in between are three more panels depicting hand-drawn swirls of blue and black. The work is splashed with streaks of paint that, to Mendieta, may resemble a painting left outside after a rainstorm.


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"We rearranged the portraits like a fractured mirror image," explains Mendieta, a freelance graphic designer. "Jay's motions are a swirl, but they look like the lines of a heartbeat on an ECG monitor. He would say they are the emotions of letters. And he slaps the paint on in such a repetitive motion that it looks distressed, beaten up and weathered."

Along with the 10-piece collaborative "Fragmented Series," Mendieta, who is represented by Gallery 2014, has roughly 20 other early works on display. Many depict Amira – unsmiling, sporting a Mickey Mouse hat; or wearing a tiara, her mouth open in an expression of astonishment – while others depict family friends and relatives. Others still are cerebral nods to the fall of American consumerism, such as "63," which depicts a 1963 Chevy on five panels, recalling all the American-made cars in his New Jersey neighborhood as a youth.

"I just wanted to depict the big three car companies, right before American cars declined in popularity," Mendieta says. "It's about the degradation of American-made products, but it's also fractured through nostalgia, in a way."

Eduardo Mendieta and Jay Bellicchi's "Fragmented" is on display through Sept. 9 at Gallery 2014, 2014 Harrison St., Hollywood. Free. 954-505-3291 or Gallery2014.com.