COSTA MESA — It wasn't until the artist Bigfoot described the mural he's making for Hurley's )( Space Gallery that his pieces revealed new meaning.
"There are seven main guys, and they're all emerging from behind trees and stuff," he said. "The tallest character is blocking the road where a truck and a bulldozer are trying to get in."
Is he making an environmental statement?
"Maybe," Bigfoot said, laughing it off.
The mural, which he was working on during the interview, will debut at the )( Space Gallery on Saturday.
The artist, who doesn't like to reveal his real name, is known for his street art. It features his Bigfoot characters usually in the woods interacting with the forest and the society around them, sometimes terrorizing urban dwellers. Other times he makes images of a bunch of Bigfoots rocking out in a metal band.
Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, Bigfoot was inspired by graffiti he saw as his family would drive into New York City.
"I thought about people that did graffiti … who did it? Spirits? Ghosts?" he said.
Having no context for street art, Bigfoot's fascination with mythical figures finally brought him to his own character, which has become so iconic that Hurley is dedicating a night to him.
Jason Maloney, Hurley's resident artist, recommended Bigfoot, a friend, for the exhibit. The two became close working on a Nike project in Mexico City.
Last year, the two collaborated on a mural in New Jersey. In a couple of weeks they'll travel to Australia to unveil two public murals. Although Maloney won't be lending his paintbrush to the event, he gave creative advice for his friend's showcase.
"Through my nine years experience with painting Disney rides, I suggested we add 3-D elements of his signature character Bigfoot, complete with fog machines spewing smoke for the mouth at the entrance of the Hurley gallery, along with some inside the gallery," he said.
He also suggested they start the night with a KISS cover band, one of Bigfoot's biggest influences. A peek at his website reveals a startling similarity between the band's font and the one he uses online.
"I have a hard time not having some references to KISS in my drawings and stuff," Bigfoot said.
The Brooklyn-based artist may be shy, but he's no stranger to public attention. He's designed a full line of Hurley T-shirts, which will be available at Saturday's show. He's traveled all over the world in the past 15 years, exhibiting at galleries in the U.S. and Japan. He's become iconic for his offbeat nature, street style and distinct character.
"I wanted to make his art show a celebration of him and his work, which is inspired from the love of the Earth, graffiti and KISS," Maloney said. "This art show will most definitely be over the top."
Besides art and music, a skate park will be in place at the showing.
A heavy metal-themed food truck, "Grill 'em all," plans to serve; the truck is among the final four of "The Great Food Truck Race" on the Food Network.
If You Go
What: Bigfoot's "Ominous Compositions from the Magic Mountains" exhibit
Where: Hurley's )( Space Gallery at 1945 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa.
When: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday