We had the good fortune of connecting with Joe Dominguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joe, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
You know you’re an artist when you feel this obsessive need to make your mark on the world each day in your own way, if you ignore this feeling, it grows in the back of your mind until sooner or later, it spills into other areas of your life . Ever since I was little I’ve always had that feeling. Before settling on a career as an artist, I considered working in other fields but none of them really energized me to put my everything into the job. Once I entered college I changed my major multiple times as well. I was searching for a career where I could fuse all of my interests in one job: psychology, photojournalism, writing, directing and the visual arts. After learning I could work all of those subjects and more into one career, I was sold. At the end of the day, I know I have a point of view and story worth sharing with the world and being an artist allows me to do just that.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
At the end of the day, my work as a photographer is all about lifting people up and sharing my point of view with the world. I love getting to work with the public in the portraits I shoot, building relationships with the community is one of my favorite parts of working as a photographer. I’m always honored when people include me in the milestones of their lives and I get to give them a fun, memorable, and artsy experience. My main medium is digital photography, but I’m also skilled in other types of image making and blend them together to create a unique look; film photography, drawing, painting, digital compositing all lend themselves to the type of services I offer. I’m a formally trained artist and have a passion for using my studio work to elevate conversations around important issues impacting our world today in an unexpected, and provocative way. I’d like to think my personal work stands out in the valley because it’s a mirror reflecting my lived experience as a brown person and gives people a space to look inward and make sense of their place in the world as well.
I’ve been preparing for a my next show, I have an exhibition debuting this April the week of the 12th-15th in gallery 100 at ASU; It’s the most ambitious work I’ve made to date over the past three years and tells the story of my experience with climate change and our planets complex struggle with climate change in an unexpected way. The work also combines many of my skills in photography: composite imagery, archival imagery, sculpture, installation and digital photography in one body of work. I can’t wait for the public to see it and start exhibiting it in other venues throughout the year. I’m also excited to graduate this May and put my degree to use. I’ve started working on my next big project. Can’t say too much about it at this early stage, but it’s a relatable issue that doesn’t get talked about enough. Once it’s ready, I think it will generate a lot of press which I’m looking forward to.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ohh I got you. Let’s pretend we’re living in a post pandemic world where everything is open, If you’re my best friend I’m going to make sure your visit is one to remember. On Monday I’d start off your visit with breakfast at my place then take a bike ride to Infusions coffee and tea in Tempe to catch up, they have some of the best tea in the valley. We would explore downtown and bike around Tempe Town Lake before heading off. Next, we’d drive up to Scottsdale and check out Wonderspaces, it’s a fun interactive art experience that changes every couple of months ( It’s also a great spot to snap a few photos). After, we would grab lunch at AZ 88 a few blocks down the road, they have a great menu with something for everyone and the space has a nice artsy vibe to it year round. After lunch I’d let my friend relax for a bit and then regroup at night to get drinks at the Undertow, it’s a special little spot hidden away under a coffee shop in Arcadia. You have to rsvp before entering since its limited seating but it’s worth it, some of the best drinks in town are made at that little bar. Tuesday we would grab breakfast at The Breakfast Club in Phoenix then go for a hike at South Mountain, the view at the top is worth the hike if you’re new to the city. After hiking we’d part ways till dinner. I like to give my friends some time to explore the city on their own terms. I recommend visiting either cartel coffee or Lux central in downtown for a coffee then checking out some of the great vintage shops phoenix has to offer. For dinner we’d go to the Vig then end the night with drinks at Cobra Arcade, it has a great atmosphere, games and a good mix of people to meet. Wednesday we would grab breakfast at La Grande Orange in Phoenix, then spend the afternoon exploring the city by bike shooting street photography and visiting some of the unique small businesses Phoenix has to offer. I recommend biking down Grande Avenue, Roosevelt Row or up to Melrose for some unique finds. One of my favorite places is Pueblo Life, it’s a local plant shop with everything you need to bring out your inner plant mom or dad. Next, we would grab a drink at Cha Cha’s tea house nearby to rehydrate and then bike over to Pizzeria Bianco for lunch near the Arizona Science Center (which is also a great spot for photos), it’s a small intimate space with some of the best pizza in the valley. We’d finish up our day exploring the city by sundown at the top of the Hyatt Regency in the Compass grill, it has a panoramic view of the city and makes for the perfect spot to capture the light of golden hour. To wrap up the night we would head underground to Valley Bar, its a local hangout with rotating bands, great drinks and cozy seating to hang with friends. Thursday would be spent relaxing. First, we’d grab coffee or tea at Futuro coffee, it’s one of the best spots to grab coffee in Phoenix, their contemporary take on Mexican coffee will be memorable and they also have a rotating art gallery which is fun to check out too. Next stop would be Floatology to relax in a sensory deprivation tank. If you’ve never been in one before I highly recommend it! Time stands still and you leave with fully refreshed. After Floatology, I’d drive us up to the Musical Instrument Museum, it’s the only museum of its kind with interactive displays that take you on a tour of music around the world. After the MIM, we’d head over to Flower Child up the road. At night we’d head to fountain hills and stargaze in one of the only dark sky communities in the southwest. The lack of light pollution allows you to take in the full scope of our constellations. For Friday, I’d take us to The Beach House Tacos & Burritos in Phoenix for breakfast, if you’ve never had a cactus breakfast burrito now is your chance! Next we’d start our road trip up North to Sedona where we’d spend most of the afternoon hiking and taking in some of the scenic views Arizona is known for. For Lunch we would stop at the Elote cafe, it’s one of the best Mexican spots in the city. But to really experience Sedona, it’s best to spend a night or two in town so you can take advantage of the Sedona Effect, a feeling which overcomes many visitors to Sedona and is said to intensify your emotional clarity and openness to change in life. For Saturday and Sunday I’d continue the road trip up north to explore Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon and The Grand Canyon. There are plenty of great spots to crash for the night up north, but if you want to treat yourself to the best room in town, I recommend Amangiri. it’s a lux resort built into the side of a mountain and feels otherworldly
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A few people come to mind! First, I’d like to thank my loving mother and grandparents who have always supported me over the years. My mom has been a pivotal influence in guiding me as a kid to explore outlets where I could channel my interests into a career; were it not for her, I might not be interviewing with you today.
I’d also like to give a big shout out to three other artists who have mentored me as a photographer: Painter Kai Y. Kim, and photographers Stephen Marc Smith and Liz Cohen. Kai is great at giving honest and direct feedback on your work which helped me a lot early on in my studies as an artist to see how the viewer is just as important in a work as the artist making it. She challenged me to complete abstract projects and to use color as a strong communication tool; I still apply this to my work to this day.
Stephen was also helpful in preparing me to develop an initial idea for a project into a larger body of work over time and later taught me how to prepare a finished project for exhibitions, press, online. He’s always made himself available to chat about anything which is something I’ve really appreciated.
My last shout out goes to Liz who’s shown me how to be bold with my work, push my photography forward as an art form and create images which engage the public on big ideas with layered themes of my own personal experience and to make something one of a kind. The many references and insight she’s shared with me has also been extremely helpful. All six of these people have played a big part in helping me arrive at my career as a photographer.
Exhibition Details : https://asuevents.asu.edu/
Other: Creatively – https://creatively.life/