b. early 21st-century
Jonathan Velazquez is a Bay Area artist who produces work at NIAD, a progressive art studio for adult artists with developmental disabilities located in Richmond, California. Velazquez’s work – in performance, sculpture and on paper – explores the possibilities of celebrity and the power of performance. He crafts his numerous artistic personas from musicians and bands that he connects with – his slate of performers include Michael Jackson as well as Espinosa Paz, Los Tigres del Norte, and Daddy Yankee. He has released an EP of his Spanish-language ballads on NIAD Sounds Recordings. In his drawing practice, Velazquez likes to draw portraits of people that are important to him, frequently including NIAD staff. The recurring motif of hearts on his subjects’ chests reflects how special the person depicted is to the artist. He often explores symbols he finds interesting from movies, such as zombies, ghosts, and gloves.