Creating an artistic symbiosis

Lincoln artists work to establish art collective
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Unlikely art in an unlikely venue by two unlikely artists. That’s one possible characterization of the two-man show by Daniel Mendoza and Mike Thomas currently being exhibited at the downtown branch of the Roseville Library. But that’s precisely the appeal of Mendomas, the collaboration between these two Lincoln residents. The duo sees their work as part of a larger mission to connect Placer County artists to the community. “We’re trying to establish an art collective with a grassroots feeling,” Mendoza said. “I want to pull together a troupe … I want to go out and provide a network for other artists, a cool collective of bands you’ve never heard of, just networking, not being too selective.” Mendoza recently participated in Roseville’s Earth Day celebration. And after their joint exhibit at the library, which runs through Sept. 15, they will be at SPLASH in Roseville on Sept. 13 with artist Eric Hureaux. Closer to home, they are contributing to Lincoln Arts’ Chair-ity auction on Oct. 24. Mendoza and Thomas – accompanied by their wives and Thomas’ brand-new baby, Brody – held court Saturday at Roseville’s Art Walk. According to library assistant Leslie Goto, who acts as the space’s curator, the Art Walk is intended to showcase local artists of wide appeal. “I would love to have edgy stuff, but we are a public facility,” she said, adding that Mendomas’ work is definitely thought-provoking. “Their stuff is different, so it’s refreshing,” she said. “I like the found aspect of Daniel’s work. It’s very green.” While Roseville’s Art Walk is still in its infancy – the event drew approximately 60 visitors Saturday – Goto is hopeful it will continue to grow. “We’re trying to generate interest, we’re working on getting the word out,” she said. “We’re hoping to have something we can be proud of.” While Thomas and Mendoza have collaborated on musical projects for many years, their artistic venture is less than a year old. “We’ve known each other since middle school,” Mendoza said. “We weren’t really close, but we’d talk about music. After high school, we started playing in a band.” The duo played in several different bands over a period of approximately six years, Mendoza said, before he quit to concentrate on writing. He then began “doodling,” a direction that his wife encouraged. Thomas, meanwhile, had been expressing his art through tattooing. “I was getting opportunities to show (my work), so I wanted to bring some real talent with me,” Mendoza said. “I still write (music) but not as much,” Thomas said. “It’s hard to find the rest of the band – and it’s hard finding the time, especially with a new baby. So I just draw when I can.” Mendoza, who describes himself as a “museum dork,” said he considers Jean-Michel Basquiat a primary influence. “Just looking at his work and feeling a connection with him as a person and an artist, that made me want to be an artist,” he said. Mendoza also likes to credit Thomas as an influence. “I love watching him do stuff,” he said. “I use that to inspire me.” “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” joked Thomas. For the Mendomas pieces at the Roseville library, they each painted a background, then switched. For a sign painted with their logo, they each painted a side. While the two men have different styles, they obviously enjoy the collaborative process, working in Mendoza’s garage, which has been transformed into a makeshift studio. “We’re just in here smoking cigars and it just happens,” Mendoza said. “We’ve always worked together well.” “We trust each other,” Thomas added. Daniel Mendoza and Mike Thomas are exhibiting their work at the Roseville Downtown Library, 225 Taylor St., now through Sept. 15. For more information, go online at