Mr. Rios

Artist Statement

How is the City your studio? "The open alley makes it our studio. Having that pathway at the end of our alley, people come through and see it. When giving that one guy the wow factor, you want to give him something better the next time he comes through. Every week, people ask is this a yard sale? Grandkids, they see these toys, nobody touches these. Nobody. There's one who's sneaky, but he’ll give it back."

Featured Artist Portrait by Joe Mazza | Brave Lux Chicago

We’re bored, we grab a drill, and go to town with anything that comes to mind. We make collages to give a wow factor, that’s what people want. A lot of kids say, “I’ve got a toy like that.” Then I say it probably is. If your mom says pick up your stuff, do it, or it’ll end up in the trash, then with us. I give courage to kids. If they want to see their toys in our yard, I tell them to bring it, we’ll slap it in our yard, then you can show it to your friends.
I don’t know, just the screw gun. That’s my inspiration. I get to destroy things. You know where I get this inspiration from? Toy Story. The evil guy gets all the toys and uses them. Two things come together to make one whole. Recycling it before it gets to the dumpster. Sadly, half the toys that come here have batteries that work. This stuff deteriorates outside, the sun and water are hard on these things. I was going to throw this away because it was falling apart, but I took the board it stuck to and started a new thing.
What's Next?
Nothing. Just every day is another thing you can slap there. I’m making a rainbow, collaging little things. This little wine rack will be the rainbow of light for the train tracks, hanging on the railroad crossing sign.
He grew up in a little town in Puerto Rico, there weren't any toys. They had to make their own. This is his fantasy. It looks beautiful. My grandma said he collected everything he found as a kid. It’s hereditary, it’s in their genes. Starting from her to him - the word today is hoarders. The sad thing is, it’s hard to pass something up that looks good. My mom calls him packrat. She has him on her cell phone, as his job “packrat” and the street he lives on as “alley.” (as told by his son, Jose Rios)