A jack of many trades, Oscar is a fixture in the downtown set. He acts as party promoter and event planner to one of New York City’s most iconic parties, 1992. He is also a graphic designer, art director, and back-up dancer to Remezcla favorite Maluca; as well as daddy to a female dalmatian Bouzin (it’s Creole for bitch). Born and raised in East New York, Oscar infiltrated the downtown art scene in the early 90’s making his way to Manhattan on the subway with friends who would cut class as a crew. As an artist Oscar’s influences concentrate on childhood memories of Brooklyn – from the scenery during doctor visits to Brownsville when he was 10, to “kids dancing to house music in the handball courts.” We accompany him on a visit to his second home in Santiago, Dominican Republic — it provides the gorgeous landscape for this photo journal and peek into Oscar’s world.
Oscar shows off the Sanchezes (he’s the toddler on the left)
What was life like as a Dominican kid from East New York who wanted to be an artist? Did your parents support you?
When I was in Kindergarten I won an award for art and it included a scholarship to attend art school in Manhattan. My first generation immigrant parents automatically said “no” because traveling miles away from home for school wasn’t safe in the 80’s, especially in Brooklyn. So I went to catholic school instead, where art was not offered. High school was a little different – we had art class and I took every class possible from cartooning to typography to landscaping. I knew immediately I wanted to study art in college – so I paid my own way through New York City School of Technology, where I studied graphic design.
How did 1992 come about? What makes it special?
Back in 2005, my best friend Vashtie wanted to throw a party together and I was down. But I kept putting it aside because I told her I didn’t want to just have a “regular” party. It could have just been another party in NYC. Instead for months I delayed it until I thought of a name and theme… finally I decided it would be called 1992 and have a 90’s theme. Vashtie loved that. In August 2006, 1992 the party was born.
1992 is special because the party celebrates 10 years of music starting in 1987 through 1997 (1992 falls right in the middle). Prior to ‘87, hip hop had it’s Adidas shell toe era with groups like Run DMC who played up the DJ/MC relationship and rapped lyrics the way they might talk them. By 1987, Slick Rick brought a totally new lingo and hip hop fashion changed, too – two rope chains were better than one if you asked Big Daddy Kane. In 1992, Nas and Biggie dropped their first singles and artists were more comfortable than ever meshing music e.g., hip house. Lil’ Jon and Diddy brought a new wave of music post ’97. So the decade we celebrate at 1992 includes hip hop, house reggae, hip house, freestyle, and alternative rock to name a few. Each year in that decade was unique and interesting. It was an amazing time for music.
What drew you to the downtown scene?
In high school I had friends who were seriously into shopping (see: boosting), graffiti, promoting parties and clubbing. So because of the developing scene and heavy traffic, downtown was the place to be for that. Artists from all five boroughs would gather on places like 8th street to hang out. 8th street was a legendary block back in the day – we’d spot celebrities including Kelis who worked at the Atrium, Mos Def, and Tyson Beckford.
Manhattan always had this “you made it” feel I was drawn to. While there weren’t galleries like today to gather as artists and discover art, I knew who the graffiti writers were, the North Face gangs, the Polo gangs – always through word of mouth.
I was drawn to this scene because I felt I could take in everything that was happening at the moment, just like a baby.
Oscar stands on his dad’s 40 acre property.
You’ve collaborated with others who share in this cultural dichotomy (participate in the downtown scene and hail from elsewhere in the city) .. is this purely coincidence or what would you say draws you all together?
Downtown is a small pool of artists, designers, DJs, etc so it was natural for me to collaborate with companies and artists from here. We all work together and build off each other’s skills to make cool things happen. Take the “Sleaze Pleaze” logo in A$AP Rocky’s new video for “Long Live A$AP” as an example – the design was a collab between myself and Shayne, designer for Hood By Air. This sort of thing happens all the time here.
Being Latino and from the hood, I gravitate to other Latino and also black artists who share my cultural pride but always think outside the box and take it a few steps further.
What’s in store for ’92 this year? and Maluca?
Vashtie and I are working on a world tour. We get emails every day from people all over the world asking when 1992 is coming to their hometown. So expect us in your hood soon! Also, I’m slowly looking to produce a 1992 clothing line. I did a 1992 hat collaboration and it was a huge success. Following that, fans asked for a clothing line. So I’m excited to work on that.
I’ve been dancing with Maluca since her very first show at SXSW in 2009 and later went on to become her art director – connecting the dots for her as it pertains to style, hair, music videos, and shows. 2013 is going to be very big for Maluca. And I’m happy to say that I’ve been a part of the whole project since day one. More to come soon!
Oscar follows his dad around village community, Arenoso in Santiago, DR