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Street chic: Artist mixes street art, Southwestern styles

Local artist Sage Joseph stands next to one of his newest paintings inside his art studio in Bernalillo. Photo by Stephen Montoya

BERNALILLO — If he’s not creating a new piece of art in his studio, you can usually find local artist Sage Joseph on his knees in the dirt, tending to his self-sustaining garden.

Sage Joseph, which is his art name, is a self-taught student of street-style art and former chef who now devotes his time to creating images that combine graffiti art with Southwestern and Native American designs.

He said that as a kid, his first canvases were usually public walls or train cars he and his friends tagged during skateboarding sessions.

“By the time I got into high school really is when I started to have a lot of interest in art,” Joseph said. “At that point in my life, I was skateboarding every day, so doing graffiti with my friends was just another part of the lifestyle.”

Joseph said that when he was a senior at Cibola High School, his curriculum was nearly all art-related studies.

However, it would take Joseph a few more years post-graduation to discover his passion for art as a full-time endeavor.

“I had already gone to culinary school in California, and worked in France and Beverly Hills as a cook,” he said. “I did the grind as chef in fine dining and really missed home, so after a few years, I found myself back in the town of Bernalillo.”

Joseph said after he moved back, he began experimenting with canvas and spray paint.

“I started to figure tricks…how to achieve what I wanted with the paint after devoting 10-hour sessions to each piece,” he said.

Joseph said he would get to the point where he hated the painting he was working on, but he would continue to work on it until it conveyed something he thought was aesthetically pleasing.

One of local artist Sage Joseph’s paintings sits in his studio. He blends street art style with Southwestern themes. Photo by Stephen Montoya

“That’s what my art really boiled down to, was the ethic in the studio,” he said. “I had to concentrate, stay focused and make something happen.”

Joseph said the Southwest plays a major role in his decision to conceptualize an art piece.

“It comes from my heritage as far as my family being here for four generations,” he said.

Joseph said he has a Certificate of Indian Blood and has been allowed to show his work at many Native American art shows.

“This has been a double blessing because I get to showcase my work and also get ideas for future projects,” he said.

Joseph said he chose spray paint as his medium because it expressed how he saw art.

“I love colors; I like to have big bright bold lines, big mixtures, nice pallet blends…oranges, pinks, purples, greens…That to me is like something different I haven’t seen other artists do,” he said. “It’s a mixture of big graffiti artist and these old guys that pushed the envelope of what was expected or the norm.”

Joseph will hang 12 of his newest pieces at a restaurant called Farm and Table on Fourth Street in Los Ranchos on Monday.

He also has art on display at the newly opened Hemporium, owned by his mother, in Corrales and has plans to display his art at many other locations interested in his style.

“I have shown in different galleries and plan on hustling to get more of my paintings seen as time goes on, but for now, I am just trying out new ideas and always looking for inspiration in nature,” Joseph said.

Local artist Sage Joseph uses a large collection of spray paint to create his pieces. Photo by Stephen Montoya.