Reynaldo Alegandro Martinez Mojica AKA “El Peque” started his crew, VRS (“Verdadera Realidad Social”), back in the day while growing up in the street of Rivera in the barrio of Las Juntas in the city of Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico. Peque (“little”) got his name for obvious reasons, being the youngest of 13 children. His brother, who now lives in Los Angeles, California, gave him that name and it’s stuck with him.
Peque’s interest in art was sparked at a young age by the work of his city’s “old school” taggers. His brother also began to send him copies of Lowrider Arte Magazine from the United States and Peque became influenced by what he saw in its pages. He tells us that he used to copy pictures that he saw in Arte and use them as a way to get inspired and as artistic references.
Peque recalls the difficulty that he experienced when he began to tag. “We used to just tag our crew name in a few places and then we started to step up and create new colorful tags and even our own characters,” he says. Art supplies were very limited in their city so they weren’t able to get certain paint colors or different spray can tips. Peque and his crew would have to mix their own colors and create their own tips by making different grooves or carving out existing tips to be able to do specific lines or shapes.
In the ’80s, tagging was not really recognized as a form of art, even in Guadalajara, which once held the Guinness World Record as the city covered with the most graffiti. Peque and his crew would ask permission from different business owners to work on projects on their property. But even with permission, they were harassed by the police, sometimes even at gunpoint, and were called nasty things by people passing by. Doing big projects was hectic and would take a long time with all of the distractions, including having to stop all of the time and show proof that the wall was being painted on with the owner’s consent. After a few years, though, Peque and the others started to get recognition in Guadalajara.
As the years went by, Peque’s technique and imagination grew greater, surpassing some of his fellow crew members and making him the only one still doing graffiti as a way of life and as his only source of income. While some of his old crew members strayed and started doing their own thing, Peque stayed with it and perfected his style. Peque knew that tagging is what he was meant to do and a way for him to show love for his culture, his city and his family.
Peque likes to emphasize that VRS is his only true crew, but he also belongs to a three-person crew called Tekpatl, which consists of himself, “Humo” and “Mibe.” Tekpatl means “perdanal” or “strong as a rock.” They took the name from a novel called Tlacaele written by the great writer Antonio Velasco Pina. The character “Tekpatl” was the best artist within the Aztecs, but was not recognized by other artists due to their fear of what he was capable of creating and was banished.
Tekpatl was later discovered by one of the kings (named Tlacaele) who offers him anything that he wants in return for a unique masterpiece, a sculpture of Tonanzy (Cuatlicue), the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon and stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. The crew identifies themselves with this character because their masterpieces are now accepted in galleries and museums.
Even with museum exposure, Peque’s love for mankind is still expressed through murals in the streets and in rural areas where the average person joins to have fun and socialize. In this way, everyone can experience these works no matter their gender, class or income level. Peque wants working men and women to be able to enjoy his art without having to visit a gallery or museum.
For Peque, graffiti is born in the barrio, and like his brother said, they can take the man out of the barrio, but they can’t take the barrio out of the man. Peque would also like to thank the “old school” taggers. If it weren’t for them, he would not be where he’s at today. If you would like to see more of Peque’s work visit www.photolog.com/peque_vrs or www. myspace.com/peque_vrs.