Houston’s Daniel Anguilu isn’t one to abide by the rules, so it’s no wonder he was drawn to street art.
While the self-taught street artist has shown at fine art galleries across Houston, executing concept using the “proper techniques” is not Daniel’s cup of tea. But give him some cans of aerosol paint and he’ll create a colorful, vibrant and fun masterpiece with a splash of rebellion. His stunning large-scale pieces are painted without a thought, just his desire for honesty and understanding. With his thick Latino accent and his ability to go off on a passionate tangent, we weren’t sure if understanding was going to be in the cards during our interview. But we focused and we listened and, well, we just got him. Much like his work, if you look long enough and soak it in, you’ll understand what he is trying to say, you’ll just get it, and you’ll want more.
Daniel Anguilu moved around a lot as a young boy and never really felt like he belonged. He started doing graffiti with friends he met along the way, and when he discovered this genre of art he found a place where he fit in and felt comfortable. Since then, painting is all he has ever wanted to do.
“School was not an option for me at the time because I didn’t agree with how the system worked, so my plan was just to paint until I was tired of painting and then maybe I’d go into the real world find a job and figure it out from there. I guess I am still in the same place,” he laughs.
Daniel is a rebel with a cause kind of guy, and his screw-the-system attitude is what prompted him to paint graffiti on the sides of freight trains and building walls. His cause is whatever he wants it to be, from political messages to current events to his personal spiritual growth, and anything and everything he feels he wants to express at the time. His style is deeply inspired by his Mexican heritage, and he loves to paint with shapes and vibrant colors. He often adds a quote to send his message home.
Five years ago Daniel found himself in Houston. After taking some time to figure out what he was going to do and how he was going to continue to share his art (and make a living doing it), Daniel courageously started knocking on doors on the East side of Houston and showing business owners his work and basically asking if he could paint their buildings.
“Some people were cool with it and some people looked at me like I was crazy,” he says. “But I was persistent and I don’t even know why. It just felt natural, it felt like what I should be doing.”
Now Daniel has gone from sneakily painting the sides of freight trains to focusing on painting public spaces in Houston. And he does it out in plain sight, with permission from local businesses and homeowners. While the collaborations pay the bills, he definitely does not consider it a job.
“I don’t look at my art as a profession, but as my contribution to society,” he says. “I’m going to keep rolling with it to see if it’s going to continue to grow. It’s like something that you plant. You don’t expect anything of it. But deep down I don’t like to expect too much, because sometimes if you give art an intention it can take a different turn.”
But we’re pretty sure his art isn’t going anywhere. Daniel is a pioneer for large-scale painting on private property, and if you look around, you’ll see much more than you did before. The majority of people of Houston support him and the way he is adding personality and interest to the rough and drab parts of the city. They are curious about where he wants to go and how they can help him get there.
“I am in a city of people that think differently and that are supportive. I’ve found the right people to help me grow,” he says of Houston.
Daniel defines the way he creates and contributes as “mass therapy” to society.
“I think we need collective therapy, because society itself has been damaged. It’s up to us to say we no longer believe in this, when we think something else is better. If we don’t believe that it’s hurting, then it’s never going to become something else.”
In addition to his building work, Daniel has also showed at Lawndale Art Center as well as group exhibitions at The Station Museum, Cardoza Fine Art, the Orange Show, Mexican Consulate of Houston, Aerosol Warfare Gallery, and the Poissant Gallery.
And while he’ll continue to show his pieces, schlepping paintings isn’t what he wants to spend his time doing. Daniel has a deep desire to create. He has so much more to say and there is still plenty of blank canvas for him to say it. He is open to more collaboration and ideas for large-scale building projects and he’s ready to work. We say give him a ladder and some aerosol cans and let him continue to transform the city.