Changarrito Residency: Toto

Mar. 1, 2023

Mar. 1, 2023 @ 12:00 pm Mar. 31, 2023 @ 12:00 pm

Toto outside Mexic-Arte with the changarrito cart
Portrait of Toto

About the Artist

Most commonly known by his artist name, Toto, Jorge Flores-Pere was born in Los Angeles, California in 1995, but is now located in Houston, Texas. His first experience as an artist was as a curator in 2016. Jorge put together an annual group show called “The Elephant in the Room” showcasing artists’ work from around the area. He continued to do this for three years growing each year and getting recognition from his local newspaper as a must see. He then shifted his attention to his own work trying to perfect his craft. Jorge specializes in portrait painting working primarily with acrylics and oils, capturing the story of everyday individuals with each brush stroke. He has worked with Carlos Cruz-Diez creating a mural in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and has shown work both nationally and internationally.

Jorge has taken courses at Glassell School of Art in Houston and is currently studying Art at Pasadena City college with hopes to continue his degree and transfer to a large university next year.

His biggest influence has been his family’s culture. Coming from Guatemalan and Cuban descent his focus has been to put people of color in the limelight. Given how the art world is mostly represented by white individuals, Jorge’s goal is to allow people from his community to share their story. Statement from artist— “I remember going into museums and not being able to connect with the work because I didn’t see myself in the pieces. My goal is to change that narrative and to show that there’s more to Latin American artists besides the big names such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. We aren’t just a staple in history, but also still incredibly present in the world today.”

Artist Statement

I am drawn first to stories. Stories lead everything else in my artistic process. My alter ego – Toto the Elephant – comes from a story I learned about elephants who are kept and used for entertainment. From a very young age, the elephants are tied with ropes and chains to prevent them from escaping. Even when they grow larger and are able to break free, they do not—they have become so accustomed to the chains that they do not realize they have the ability to break free. They are mentally tied despite no longer being physically tied. I am drawn to this idea, of realizing one’s ability to express oneself beyond physical and mental limits. The character of the elephant allows me to work outside of myself, remove myself from the narrative. Removal of the self allows for more vulnerability, more objectivity, more room for my subjects to speak on their own.

My work is primarily large scale, figurative, in oil or acrylic. Each subject – each person – has their own story, and so when I am painting someone for the first time, I let their story lead the rest of the process. Their story is the beginning of the piece. Other times, I take pre-existing works or images from well-known white artists and rework the pieces to shift the narrative towards and/or about people of color. I create a new story. As an artist of Cuban-Guatemalan descent, with artists on both sides of my family, I enjoy working on projects directly within my community: mural painting, leading workshops and art education in schools, providing art supplies whenever I can. I like the sense of community and empowerment that comes with art. I don’t believe that people have to fully understand what an art piece is about in order to feel connected to it in some way. It’s about the feeling someone has when they are looking at the piece. It’s about the thing that propels me in the first place: the story. Making someone feel like they are part of the story.

Changarrito Cart: March 18-19 & 25-26

Artists have the opportunity to sell their art on the Changarrito cart in front of the Museum (or an offsite location, as representative for the Museum during various Austin festivals). Changarreando expands the reach of the artist by presenting their gallery online, while allowing the option to sell merch over Instagram and receive 100% of the sale.

Jorge Flores-Pere featured their artwork on the Changarrito cart outside the Museum’s entrance on March 18-19 and March 25-26, 2023.

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates on original work available for purchase and behind the scenes of the artist’s work, space, and creative process.

Changarrito Instagram Live Interview on Thursday, March 30

Mexic-Arte Museum’s Changarrito Instagram Live event with Artist Jorge Flores-Pere took place on Thursday, March 30th from 5:00 pm – 5:45 pm CST. Isabel Servantez, Mexic-Arte Museum’s Curator Of Exhibitions and Director Of Programs, facilitated the virtual event with a series of questions directed at the artist including a Q&A taking place during the last 20 minutes of the event.

Mexic-Arte Museum

419 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701 United States
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(512) 480-9373