Art is defined as “produced as an artistic effort or for decorative purposes”. Art is different for everyone, and though some say they’re not into, we all are in one facet or another. We at The Culture Curators are avid fans and supporters of art across the board. From music to sculpting, painting, street art, fine art, and more. We’re here for it. Today we take a closer look at an artist based out of Ocala, Florida, by the name of EJ Nieves. Certainly not new to the art world, he’s honed his craft over two decades, continuously looking to push things forward. Let’s get a bit more familiar.
EJ says that he’s from Orlando, spending seventeen years of his life in the city. However, he traveled a lot as a kid before spending the majority of his grade-school years in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He’s relatively new to Ocala, Florida, but he’s made quite an impact already. And soon, he will bring his “Neon Dreams” to reality.
In his youthful years, EJ says he started drawing in third grade with a good friend. He was and still is inspired by Spawn comic books and anything from Todd McFarlane. He honed his chops drawing from comics and playing Super Nintendo all night, which is seen in some of his paintings today. Coming into his high school years, he spent time as a cartoonist for his high-school newspaper, creating spirit shirts for pep rallies and much more. He continued to explore art and expanded his skill set along the way.
His passion for artistic expression and spreading his creativity grew exponentially, leading into college. EJ said that he was really humbled by the college experience, which led him to discover more about himself as an artist. He started to explore art deeper, furthering his knowledge, and started seeing it in ways he’d never experienced before. After spending his years in the art department at the University of Central Florida, he started a career as a substitute teacher. Eventually substituting for two years, he became a full-time middle school art teacher, doing so for nearly five years. He traded in his days in the classroom for days in the studio, pursuing a personal and professional art career. He eventually ended up in Ocala, calling it home base to due to an incredible, budding art community that is shifting and proliferating.
While his early inspirations come from comic books and his love for Todd McFarlane. He also finds inspiration in the legends and icons such as Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, and later Basquiat. He spoke in-depth about Basquiat as an inspiration, stating: “I just always appreciated him as an artist, him as a person. I remember watching a documentary and telling myself that’s the kind of artist I want to be in regards to just being an advocate for the arts. Being myself. Never conforming to what other people think I should be.” EJ’s main inspiration is his faith and his relationship with God, which acts as a cornerstone for what he does, not only in his art. He’s also inspired by helping artists. One of his biggest aspirations is to help kids, especially those who high school who are exploring doing art full time.
EJ’s art is striking, colorful, bold, and brilliant. It’s a combination of chaos and control, coming to life, and forming familiar characters. However, these pieces have a deeper meaning than just the connection to the past they provide visually. His art is carefully planned and created, it’s different, it’s dope, and it’s something worth putting on any wall.
EJ is currently in the middle of prepping “Neon Dreams.” The exhibition will find Mr. Nieves along with fellow local art genius, Teddy Sykes coming together for an immersive event like no other. The event will take place on December 6th at Infinite Ale Works in Ocala, Florida. But we’ll touch more on that later.
Photos via Dave Miller for The Culture Curators