The photo’s caption that went out on Instragram (@naconico) that caught @elrandomhero’s (aka Streetsblog contributor Erick Huerta) attention said: “Here it is the piece that is going up right now, stay tuned for clue number one. Remember who ever gets to it first is the new owner #resiclarte #freeart”
The photo, sent out by Boyle Heights based artist Nico Avina, showed an acrylic painting on wood was hanging on a chain link fence. In the background an LAPD automobile was parked in an alley. Huerta was certain he knew where it was.
Artist Nico Avina has been posting public artwork for the past year around Boyle Heights and using Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to send people off on a search to claim the work. Avina calls his work “Resciclarte,” which he creates from found waste. Avina has used old skateboards, and even the bottom part of a drawer to create images that vary from Zapatistas to calevera mariachis.
“It’s pretty much anything that I see and just right away like I feel I could work on it,” said Avina.
For years, Avina has been a part of Boyle Heights arts groups like Poets del Norte, El Merkado Negro, and most recently Espacio 1839, a one stop shop for clothing, books, records & community radio. Avina, a Boyle Heights native, got his artistic knack from writing on desks with friends at different neighborhood schools including Hollenbeck Middle School and Roosevelt High School. His work focuses largely on Boyle Heights culture, and images that show or combine indigenous and contemporary Latino communities.
The first clues Avina gives are closeup photos of the artwork and only a few minor details. Like the dome from the Mariachi Plaza in the background of one clue, or the background of what looks like a bridge – as shown above it’s a bridge for the Interstate 5 Freeway.
Avina said that the vague clues challenge viewers to see how much they know about their neighborhood, and force people to recall memories about their environment.
“If somebody figures it out on clue number one . . . they know their community, they know their neighborhood.”
When Huerta first saw the clue to the Resiclarte painting, we set out immediately to the corner of Soto and First Streets, where he believed the painting to be. During the trip, he raced ahead, and as I arrived he was removing the painting from the pole. This time, we got the painting. On clue number one.