By Juhi Varma
This weekend, the walls of the MATV gallery were tagged — with artist Alvin Colon aka Acoma’s vibrant, air-brushed masterpieces. These are mostly edgy and colorful portraits of people who Acoma says have inspired him in some way, and include legendary musicians Ray Charles, Bob Marley and President Barack Obama. There are 18 works currently on display; Acoma has stated that while they are all for sale, he has not set down prices for any of them; interested art enthusiasts are invited to discuss prices with him.
“Ray Charles is everybody’s favorite,” Acoma said about his favorite piece. “He was a really brilliant musician, if you’re a portrait artist you want to draw the most inspiring people in the world, this one here I had it for sale for $2500.”
Acoma spent much of his childhood tagging walls. His art teacher, Janaya Majied-Janey, saw potential in her troubled young student, and helped set him on the right path. Acoma eventually studied graphic design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design
“I grew up in Roxbury,” Acoma said. “I think at 11 was when I really wanted to find myself as an artist. It started with just crayons, and I moved on to spray paint, the big trend that was going on in the culture I was brought up in was hip hop, graffiti culture. Everyone was doing it, so I wanted to do it too. Then when I went to Mass Art, I was getting a lot of advice; folks were telling me ‘you want to be an artist? That’s ok, but it’s hard to become successful as an artist, how are you going to pay your bills, so study something that’ll actually make you money.’ So I studied graphic design, so I have a good background, at Mass Art ─ I also learned about different mediums, studied sculpture, print medium, a little bit of everything. My full name is Alvin Luise Colon; “Acoma” is a name that I made up for myself when I was 11, it’s an acronym for my name Alvin Colon, of Maria and Alberto, ─ those are my parents.”
This is Acoma’s first show in Malden. “Anytime you get graffiti artists expressing themselves on canvas, that’s a good thing,” said MATV Executive Director Ron Cox. “He’s totally redirected the way he uses the way he makes portraits, he captures people… the guy has talent.”