EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As the old saying goes, the show must go on. Borderland creatives are continuing to prove that even during these tough times, creating art is a necessity.
KTSM 9 News spoke to a local painter, band and film company that shared their trials and tribulations amid the pandemic, while also overcoming barriers built by COVID-19.
“I remember I quit my job as a server at Olive Garden. I was like, ‘I’m just going to be a painter,'” Diego “Robot” Martinez, a local artist shared. “I’ve quit a lot of jobs just to paint, it seems. I just love painting, I’ll always come back to it.”
“October 24, 2013, we played our first house party and we’ve been playing ever since,” Evan Tremper, the drummer with the band Great Shapes said.
“DoubleScope Films, it was developed about 15 years ago and it’s been operating here professionally in El Paso for 11 years now,” Jaime Blanco, owner of DoubleScope Films shared.
All creatives reflected on what led them to pursue their passions pre-COVID era.
“I wasn’t necessarily planning on a lot of stuff that that has happened. I couldn’t of predicted it and I think just the will to go and just to continue being an artist was really something that you have to ask yourself and you can’t second guess yourself,” Martinez said.
“It started off as a little trio and after kind of hanging out and writing some songs, we decided well ‘Hey, lets make this a band now. Let’s make it official.’ So some names floated around and then Evan, you suggested Great Shapes and we were like we dig it. That’s where all that started,” Neil Henry, the lead singer and guitarist with Great Shapes shared.
“Filmmaking, whether people know of it or understand it, it’s very technical. it can get very technical and the fact that we know what we’re talking about makes it much more easier,” Jesus Nunez, the partner and director of DoubleScope Films said.
These local artists follow their passion by expressing themselves through the stroke of a brush, or by the beat of a drum. Majority of them shared they were caught off guard when the pandemic hit.
“After March, we went into a hiatus but we all kept writing and working at home,” Tremper shared.
“We got a live streaming offer gig to do and that was our first and only show since March that we’ve done,” Henry added.
“I was having galleries closed maybe 7/8 months out of the year, it’s kind of crazy,” Martinez said.
“Right around mid March, we were in the middle of three productions so we were already going into post with those luckily. From that point on until I’d say early August, we were dead. There was no productions anymore. Recently everyone was quarantined at home, being as safe as possible,” Blanco shared.
With trials and tribulations, it’s easy to just give up. So, why did these artists keep going?
“The passion for this. for production,” Blanco said, “This is all I know. This is all I want to do and that’s that. I can never go back to a 9 to 5 job. Can’t do it. Can’t do it.”
“What’s keeping us going is the promises we’ve made to each other. We’re a family and we’re just not going to give up on each other,” Tremper said, “We have lots and lots of material to work on and we’re excited to be back in the studio, get out there and start playing shows, and find a way to fund the album to give out to everybody who’s still with us.”
“I feel like it’s our responsibility to keep that developing and growing so it’s also a duty to everybody else,” Nunez shared.
“It’s commitments that I make to myself and the city and community with my art that really makes it easy to continue. It’s not about me, it’s not about Diego Robot, it’s about making moments happen for people that need them. Especially during these times,” Martinez said.
“For us to have one of those songs that is very relatable to whatever someone is going through that can help them, that’s what our goal is,” Henry added.
“El Paso has been hit hard but it doesn’t mean that we’re fighting any less. I know that this is making us all stronger. So we just need to continue helping each other and do what we need to do to stay safe,” Martinez shared.
Band members of Great Shapes include Giovanni Lauretano, Evan Tremper, Neil Henry, and Antonio Salazar. The band shared they plan on performing a virtual concert in the next few months to help rack in funds to get started on their third album.
Diego “Robot” Martinez shared the gallery and gift shop at Casa Ortiz in Socorro will have its soft opening to the public on January 8, and its grand opening in February. Martinez adds he hopes the gallery will be a destination for tourists traveling to Marfa, while offering an opportunity to show case other artists.
Jaime Blanco and Jesus Nunez said DoubleScope Films will still be working on virtual live streams, and also operates as a rental house.