Smack Grendels& The Wizard of Wynwood


Really consider this question for a minute…You’re walking through a gallery or an art exhibition and there are maybe a dozen to hundreds of pieces thoughtfully curated to occupy these particular white spaces. Yet, one piece always draws you into its gravity more than any other, sustaining your attention which these days can be really hard to do.  I like to think that when you do get sucked into a masterpiece, your mind is transported into another dimension.  Some would call it your subconscious.  I believe it to simply be another dimension.

Artist, Jose Mertz has an uncanny ability to not only make you stare in awe at his melting visual candy but to go in and out of multiple dimensions all at once.  Mystical animals and Egyptian deities with borderline realistic figures scratch only the surface of what’s going on inside the mind of this supernatural talent.  Mertz follows his dreams on canvas and his dreams follow you into an ocular journey of a subtle yet haunting serenade.  Mertz let me into his head for an afternoon and this Saturday, you can take a trip there as well.  He even brought some friends along with him.  


If you were to categorize your artwork, what would you call it and why?

My artwork is pretty tough to categorize at this point.  Mainly because my work has now grown to be seen and received on various platforms.  From clothing to stickers to original paintings its hard to pin point it as one singular thing.  I view it as a wave.  Hopefully creating a large splash that will inspire people and continue to help me grow as a person as well as spark something in the people that view it.

What was your first impression of Wynwood that made you realize this is home?  Is it your home?

Wynwood is NOT my home lol.  My view on what is “home” has changed through the years.  Wynwood is like a sandbox to me.  A place where people play and express themselves artistically and at the same time a place where people feel more inspired to open their dream business or studio.  It’s more like a intricate playground to me.  My first impression was one of gratitude that my city has this going on for the visual arts community when in the 90’s this area was virtually a ghost town.

What’s your earliest memory of being interested in painting and did you ever expect to be where you are now showing your art in an exhibition alongside artists that you curated?

My earliest interest in painting was in elementary LOL!!!  I did a watercolor painting and I loved how the image was created by moving water around.  The concept has a grip on me for a long time.  It was such a weird concept to understand.  I still find it fascinating that someone can be moved and how much power is in the creation of an image just by essentially moving liquid and pigment around in the traditional sense of painting.  I never expected to be showing with the other creators I will be showcasing in the upcoming exhibition Smack Grendels.  But then again, I try not to practice expectations.  It only leads to heartache if it does not happen.  The surprise component is far more interesting to me.  Even this curatorial process has been like a painting where tons of surprises pop up and then dissolve.  I have a huge respect for each person in this show both as friends and as creators.


Tell me about your experience in Miami doing murals and/or art exhibitions.  Whats your overall perception of how your audience views your work and how does that affect your current/future pieces?

Well at first it was mainly indoor murals from 2006 till 2009 before the street art wave came into play.  When curating a show it was usually a collective idea by myself and usually one other person. From 2006-2008 I curated a series of shows in NYC with a company I started with my partner at the time called GILD.  We showed artists like James Jean, Doze Green, Phillip Toledano.. to name a few.  Then in 2008-09 I co-curated a show here in Miami at a space in Wynwood called MAS (Miami Art Space).  The show was titled “Hexagone” and had Miami natives Friends With You, Pervis Young, Bhakti Baxter to name a few.  Then I did a show with my creative brother in arms- Johnny Robles under our crew name “Creative Natives”  at Cafeina with a show titled “Crystal Monoliths”.  I did installations in all of these.  We showed works by: Dalek, Francesco Locastro, Destroy Rock City, Santiago Rubino…The show did well and we did another creative native show in Orlando. Recently I curated a show at LMNT two Art Basel’s ago. The show was titled “Superdutytuffwork” and my buddy and fellow artist friend Abstrk and I had it curated under the name “Snigguhdah” – We showed Evoca1, 2 Alas, Reinier Gamboa, Tatiana Suarez, name a couple. It has been a long fun adventure doing the shows and the response is always positive and inspiring. 

At this point in my life, I can’t really say how my audience digests my imagery. I have two mantras when I create work.. “be true to yourself” & “never be like them”. I repeat this various times in my mind until I am flowing naturally. I am growing as we speak! So sometimes the images are just being thrown up and molded on the spot. Other times I edit and remove parts that might be too offensive or too dark. I want to produce work that isn’t all pretty and polished and have some pretty face on there with decorations around it. I have been more inspired recently by artists like Cy Twombly, Degas, and Francis Bacon and how honest they were with the legacy the left behind.

Cosmic Tiger 2 / Jose Diego Middle School RAW Project / Art Basel 2014 / Mertz x Lister

Tell us about Smack Grendels.  How did this epic happening come about?

Smack Grendels came from another dimension. It hit me when I was relating to my friends and the work they were creating was like visual music to me.  I couldn’t explain it without sounding like a nut so I just started assembling it.  The name of the show came later, but I knew what artists I wanted to show and which ones I had a good chance of actually showing.  I sent out invites explaining that this was an independent show and no galleries were affiliated.  It was like a symphonic art piece in itself.  Also, this is the first time I am curating a show entirely on my own. All of the artists involved are showing with me based on the trust and friendship I have built with these individuals over the years.  So I felt even more honored that these amazing artists would ride into battle for me when I called on them. You can’t buy that or even try to fabricate it.  I am not a gallery owner nor do I want to be.  I am an artist first.  Smack Grendels is a raw, skilled showcase of artists that are powerful on they own but together it’s like a hurricane of heat.  Think Ronin / 300 Spartans 🙂 

Why choose these specific artists?  Why not just do a solo exhibition?

Well Smack Grendels is like a album.  These artists are all spokes in the wheel, gears in a watch to convey a feel, vibe and ambiance.  The splash would be completely different if it was just me and it wouldn’t be “Smack Grendels”.  The show is intended to be a group show.  The ideas each person I chose has something about it that points to something greater.  It could be death, birth, metaphysics, guardians, heros, love and even just fun.  These are all part of the human condition and something I felt needs to be presented in a new way.  Not just pretty things to look at or to go with my couch, LOL!!!  I will be doing a solo exhibition in September in Wynwood though! The show will be titled “MYTHOS” and I will be showing work never seen in person.  I am really excited about it!


Now that your curating shows, designing for fashion lines, etc, what do you see in the horizon for you as an artist, as a human being?

As an artist I am realizing that the old “starving artist” archatype is losing it’s power.  People are living just fine doing what they love and everything in life has an art form to it.  I don’t have to draw something to show you my artistic understanding of how things work.  I can trim a bonsai, throw my son in the pool, curate a art show!  Hahahaha!  They are all extensions of my creative exploring.  As a human being I feel like if I can touch even just one person in a real way through my artwork, then I have broken through the veil of monotony and inspired belief.  There IS magic, There IS another world beyond this one, there IS extraterestrials and anything you want to believe it CAN be real.  That to me is the real art and the real power.  I am grateful to be a student of the arts and to be able to bring a show like this into fruition for everyone to enjoy.  I can’t confirm if I am human by the war…  Peace and love!!!  Your brother Jose Mertz.

 Sci-Fi Fine Art

About Jose Mertz

Jose Mertz is a artist / image maker based in Miami, Fl.  His creative area of interest range from traditional drawing and painting to graphic & product design.  He focuses on pushing an experimental original style with inspirations coming from Ancient Civilizations, Science Fiction, Eastern Philosophy, Dreams, Myth & the Super Natural.  Embracing multimedia, his work has also been incorporated in graphic teeshirts, prints, stickers, installations & several other platforms that mend well with his personal imagery.

Jose Mertz will be exhibiting at SMACK GRENDELS on June 20.