Friday, August 14, 2009

From The Border To The City- Still Crazy

Downtown Nuevo Laredo

Performance artist and Notsuoh patron Sal has been a fixture of the Houston underground art world for years; playing in bands, hanging out with Jim Pirtle and smashing televisions with a sledgehammer while dressed up like Tony Clifton. writer Don Juan Corzo caught up with Sal to speak about some of his even crazier adventures down in Laredo. Insanity ensues:

It was relatively early that chilly October night in New York City during the fall season of 2008 and a group of Houstonians were the main attraction for visitors in the facilities in the CUE Foundation Gallery on West 25th Street in Manhattan. It was the first visit to the Big Apple for local artist and poet Juan Salvador Macias as part of an art exhibition put together by fellow artist and bar owner Jim Pirtle. “I had the opportunity to go to New York with Jim driving a U-Haul truck with all the art for the NotsuoH show piled up in the trailer. I really couldn’t miss that experience,” said the artist, who quit his job at a local warehouse and sold his beat-up ’92 Saturn for $300 to barely cover his expenses for the trip.

Sal (as he’s known by friends and acquaintances around town) mostly displays a good-natured, frank attitude, but isn’t shy about expressing his spirit, both irreverent and mischievous. The Texas native is a curious mix of gypsy and Latino with hair that is dark, wavy and kind of shaggy anchored with a goatee that’s pointy at times. On occasions Sal dresses in black and seems to exude an aura of coolness, perhaps, comparable to the late country singer Johnny Cash. Paintings, drawings, craft pieces, poetry and prose are shared with his circle of artists, bohemians, and plain partygoers looking to satisfy their inner cravings with art and a mixture of spirits. But Sal has not always been the affable, creative artist that friends know around Houston.

...[In the 80s] Sal was known as “Red” by his buddies. “Laredo, in the words of Kerouac, it’s a no man’s land,” Sal shared. “You can do whatever you want. If you want drugs, if you want whores, if you to drink, any kind of debauchery, there it is, for the taking.” According to the Laredo native, the border town of Nuevo Laredo, on the Mexican side is the whatever-you-want-zone.
The life Sal led on this border area where he grew up in the 80’s and 90’s was saddled by vice. Just like drugs guided him to heroin to satisfy his craving for a greater high, crime was the channel for him to become a “coyote” as immigrant smugglers are called.