Remembering Juxtapoz Founder and Lowbrow Art Enthusiast Greg Escalante [Podcast]

Remembering Juxtapoz Founder and Lowbrow Art Enthusiast Greg Escalante [Podcast]

Some people are extraordinarily unique and change the game completely. We here at NOT REAL ART are pleased to present last year’s episode on Juxtapoz Magazine founder and lowbrow art enthusiast Greg Escalante. Escalante was a bona fide maverick and trailblazer, carving out a space where so many of us could feel at home.

Greg Escalante with artist Chaz Bojorquez
Greg Escalante with artist Chaz Bojorquez

For this episode, originally aired April 9, 2021, some 30 artists and friends gathered to record personal audio messages in honor of Escalante’s birthday. To celebrate the episode’s one-year anniversary, we’re baking a cake, lighting the candles, and remembering Escalante’s impact for one more turn around the sun.

Click play button above to hear this special birthday episode honoring Greg Escalante

Juxtapoz, the publication Escalante co-founded with cartoonist Robert Williams, is still a leading work in the alternative and underground art space. Escalante's legacy is about far more than the magazine—it’s about the community he built and the lives he touched. During the show, you’ll hear tributes from many of the artists who were impacted by Greg, including Robert Williams, Shag, Shepard Fairy, Elizabeth McGrath, and Chaz Bojórquez, just to name just a few.

Greg Escalante giving a lecture at Cal State Northridge
Greg Escalante giving a lecture at Cal State Northridge

The episode is hosted by NOT REAL ART founder, Scott “Sourdough” Power, Heidi Johnson of Hijinx Artist Management & PR, and Wendy Sherman, who acted as Escalante’s personal assistant and gallery manager. Johnson and Sherman share their fondest memories of Greg, like his love of ice cream, their travels, and what a day spent with him would look like.

Tune in to this week’s episode to hear the profound impact Escalante had, not just on the art world, but on the many weird and wonderful people in it.

Greg with friend and art writer Shana Nys Dambrot
Greg with friend and art writer Shana Nys Dambrot

Key Points From This Greg Escalante Episode:

  • The first time “Sourdough” heard about Escalante and Juxtapoz in 1995
  • Hans's experience of being in Southern California in the center of the community Escalante was building
  • Heidi's experience of working with Escalante and how they helped one another's careers
  • Hear artists like Robert Williams, Mark Ryden and Scott Hess share stories about their dear friend, Escalante
  • Merry Karnowsky, Ben Goretsky, Shag, Shepard Fairy, and Shana Nys Dambrot honor Escalante
  • How Escalante changed Elizabeth McGrath's life and career forever
  • What a day spend with Escalante in Chinatown would look like
  • Heidi shares a story of a dinner she and Escalante went to when he had a rare drink
  • Reflecting on some of Escalante’s wild birthday celebrations
  • How Escalante approached studio visits with his characteristic generosity and openness
  • More artists, including Marnie Weber, Natalia Faber, Timothy Robert Smith share what Escalante meant to them
  • Escalante had a unique way of making people feel truly seen
  • The timeline of starting Juxtapoz; it all happened very quickly after he met Robert
  • What Juxtapoz means to the art world and artists who ordinarily would have been ignored
  • The story of how Robert and Escalante connected and met
  • Chaz Bojórquez shares the story of his and Escalante's friendship
  • Some other artists tell stories of their memories with Escalante
  • Escalante's experience of seeing Robert's work on the cover of Thrasher
  • Escalante's relationships with gallerists were as special and unique as his ones with artists
  • Insights into Escalante's generosity with his art collection and his penchant for giving art away.
  • Reflecting on the fun that Escalante brought to the often serious art world
  • Escalante’s varied music taste and his love for all genres
  • Hear about Escalante's spiritual life and what he might have thought about The Vatican
  • The story of how Wendy met Escalante after being interested in lowbrow art for many years
  • Doug Harvey, LC, and more pay tribute to Escalante
  • Heidi's trip with Escalante to Mexico and his other travels over the years
  • Escalante did not just change the art scene; he changed people's lives
  • More friends and artists share their tributes to Escalante to end the show

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

“Every once in a while, somebody comes along that really changes the game. A truly unique, one-of-a-kind person. Those mavericks, those trailblazers that we need to make history. And so, today, I thought we’d take time to honor one of those mavericks, one of those amazing, unique, one-of-a-kind human beings, Mr. Greg Escalante.” — Sourdough [0:03:10.0]

“Until Greg, no-one had really ever invested anything in me. And he showed me that there was this whole other world out there you could survive and become successful in. He genuinely believed I had talent and gave me a chance, and that was huge. And that was Greg. He was the foundation for so many artists. He was always networking. Always networking. But never, ever for himself, always everyone around him. Sometimes he would just call me at the crack of dawn and have this whole future planned out for everyone. For me, for everyone he worked with and if you put in the work, he'd make it happen. He made dreams come true. The legacy he left behind is monumental. And it's not even the art. It's the community he built for all of us. And on his birthday, I think of all the gifts that he gave us. The gift of his optimism, the gift of a place to be ourselves, to be free to create without judgment, and confidence that good things will happen because of it. I really miss him.” — Elizabeth McGrath [0:35:00.0]

“After years of an art market that felt very exclusive and not inclusive, I think he was always ahead of his time in that he wanted everyone to enjoy art and everyone should be invited to the party. And whether you can buy art or not, you should be able to feel it and live with it. He really broke down that barrier too.” — @hijinxpr [1:41:17.0]

“Besides all the great stuff that he did for the scene and for the movement and the community, on an individual level, he really helped a lot of people be the best they could be.” — @sanjusan[2:15:26.0]


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