by Willow Blythe
When Daniel Yanez was just 8 years old, an art teacher at James Bowie Elementary in Oak Cliff recognized his distinctive ability to create art. This planted a dream that would soon become apparent in his later years. Yanez always knew he was good at making art, but at the time he never really considered it as a possibility for the future. As a child, he was more worried about cartoons and other things going on in his young life. He didn’t recognize at such a young age that his artistic talent could lead to other opportunities.
At 18 he finally realized that he could actually do something with his talent. He started taking art classes at Mountain View College and discovered that everyone around him was doing what he dreamed – preparing for a career in art. He saw that he could do the same.
“I started thinking, if I had to do something for the rest of my life what would it be?” said Yanez. “Art. I love doing art. I would love to that every day for a living.”
Now at 27, Yanez, also known as DIY, held the grand opening of his own gallery on Saturday. Called “The Basement,” the gallery is located in Oak Cliff. Yanez and several others artists displayed their expressive and unique art throughout the underground studio. Yanez’s art, a mix between graffiti and pop art, has a contemporary flare that stood out in the studio setting. The gallery displayed a variety of mediums and styles such as neon, abstract, contemporary, and graffiti. Several crowds gathered promptly at 7 p.m. to see diverse sections in the gallery. But Yanez said the transition to finally opening “The Basement” wasn’t an easy one.
“I had an idea, and whatever I had to do, I was going to make it happen,” said Yanez. “I found this place. I was looking for a place to transform. With art I can transform anything. I can make something from nothing. That’s my mentality here.”
Yanez’s drive to open his own gallery stemmed from several facets of his life. Some of his inspiration comes from his childhood experiences in a homeless shelter with his mother and siblings in downtown Dallas. Seeing his mother’s courage and strength, pulling him and his siblings from the very bottom in the shelters, to creating a stable home, has inspired him to push forward in life. His five children are also major driving factors in pushing him to become successful.
“I want to show them, look you can be successful even though we grow up here in the hood,” said Yanez. “We can still make it out of here.”
Artist Cecil Coronado III, also known as Cecil III, was a key player in helping Yanez create his dream gallery. Both artists have worked together to fix up “The Basement,” and mold it into the vision Yanez saw to display his passion in art. Coronado III always loved and created art for as long as he can remember. At 29, his passion took hold after creating a mural for a restaurant in Dallas. Coronado III’s artwork, also displayed in “The Basement” gallery, pushes a bold message.
“I’m trying to make a statement with both the cultures, my background, as an American and also my Mexican heritage,” said Coronado III. “I just want to spread awareness on how people grow up. Someone may have two different cultures, three different cultures.”
Eric Pouncie, also known as Eerie Entity, was another artist who also displayed his art at “The Basement” Gallery.
“I make encaustic paintings,” said Pouncie. “I use a lot of different materials to create my art.”
His unique style of creating his art features an array of materials such as recycled paper, wax, card board, coat hangers, wood, and flour.
Several unique artists such as Pouncie and Coronado III, who are also close friends with Yanez, put their art together to make “The Basement” Gallery everything it is today.
“I never even dreamt that his could happen,” said Yanez. “We can do amazing things. Nothing can hold us back. We can succeed and be recognized in our community by doing something positive.”