The flat cat in the hat

Vicente Jasso Jr., a 22-year-old artist with no formal training, has been plastering stencil-and-wheat-paste images throughout Little Village since last spring; they include Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata holding a light saber, Barack Obama as Spock, and Abe Lincoln wearing a Dr. Seuss red-and-white-striped hat.

Influenced by Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Picasso, and pop art, Jasso has used Little Village for his personal commentary on immigration issues, gang violence, and world leaders. Some pieces have turned out to be controversial.

One image he plastered this summer, depicting Zapatista Subcommander Marcos sporting a pink scarf and Mickey Mouse ears, generated an angry comment on his Facebook page. Another piece shows a large-scale figure of a coked-out Super Mario and Luigi holding bags of money while running away from a border patrol agent.

He plastered his last work in Little Village in September, but it has since been destroyed, like most of his images. Jasso plans to hold a fund-raiser at a friend’s tattoo shop on 24th and Kedzie to bankroll his upcoming project. He wants to create a dialogue on gang violence in the area. It’s a problem, he says, that has taken too many of his friends and family and the majority of his male cousins. He hopes to sell whatever he can at art fairs and independent galleries to continue his work in Little Village.