Sometimes when it comes to art, there is more than meets the eye.

For Issue 23‘s Artist Spotlight, we highlighted artists that make bold, powerful and impactful work.

Our chosen contributors shared their interpretations of the “ULTRA SUPER PLUS” theme and how their art stands out. Read ahead to discover the amazing artists featured in Issue 23. Follow their pages to get updates on their work (and maybe take home an original piece yourself!)

Stardust (Reach)

Abel Soto is a multi-disciplinary artist originally from Laredo, TX. Abel’s colorful stencil art can be seen at our Almost Real Things HQ.

I have a background in communication design, so I use my experience to help contribute to the community. In 2012, I embarked on my artistic journey exploring stencilism, and I have created works that reflect my beliefs in pursuit of my artistic freedom.

My recent work reflects my emotional experience in artistic freedom. With bright colors, sharp lines and my illustrative obsession, my hope is that my art resonants with those trying to do better in positive and productive ways, while being mindful and compassionate to others and their experience.

Red Lady

Megan McGuire is a muralist who’s use of bright colors makes her a perfect fit for Issue 23’s theme.

I was furloughed from my job as an engineer in February 2020, and a month after the pandemic hit, I was largely unemployable in a “recession-proof” career. Needless to say, my tiger family was disappointed. I initially turned to art as a means of escapism, but as the pandemic hit and people were confined to their homes, they started to seek ways to liven up their surroundings, *queue the indoor mural biz.*

I use bright and bold color palettes that hit you like a rainbow freight train. My intention with each project is to create something that is immensely meaningful to the individual client. Because everyone has a different interpretation of art and what holds sentimental value, each piece is a one of a kind, and the meaning can sometimes only be decoded by the client. Have fun searching for the easter eggs!

The Endless Cycle

Maggie Lyon is an oil and acrylic painter who also helps run, Artus Co, a non-profit organization that supports local artists by providing affordable space.

I graduated from Texas State University in 2019 with a BFA in Studio Art and a minor in Fashion Merchandising. My current body of work depicts inanimate objects to conceptualize cyclical human behaviors through the use of composition and color. It’s about breaking old habits, behaviors, and cycles and starting new ones.

I created my first painting in this series in 2017 when my professor at Texas State (Shawn Camp) asked us to paint ‘our biggest fear.’ Having no real idea what that was to me, I stumbled upon an artwork by Johan Deckmann that read, “I put the washing machine on the endless cycle.” I decided my biggest fear was being stuck on a cycle of poor behaviors that would ultimately hold me back from success. I depicted an image of a washing machine and intentionally played up the colors to make it seem tempting and beautiful, just as toxic behaviors can feel.

I have since returned to this body of work in 2021 and have been exploring this theme in a new way; using the process of painting as a way of identifying the cycles I find myself in and allowing myself the freedom to break them. They are constant reminders that I have the power to break old habits and start new, healthy ones.

Lindsey Lamar is a local thriller writer. Her debut novel, Better Off Guilty, came out in April last year.

I like to gut-check my readers. The power in my writing is creating a space in fiction far enough from the reader to feel comfortable inside the narrative; Then flipping it on it’s head. I often find myself holding up a mirror to the reader inside of a fiction world that says “This is you too,” when posing hidden moral questions.

More than meets the eye isn’t the exact goal. The goal is that the golden easter egg they needed was there in plain sight all along, maybe the reader even made eye contact with it, but the reader got so lost in the narrative that they forgot to look. That’s when I know I’m creating my best art.

My piece, CARICATURE, featuered in full in Issue 23, is a short fiction about falling in love when you’re nothing alike.

The Hermit

Celica Ledesma was born and raised in Houston, TX, but now shares her striking oil paintings and digital art in Austin.

What makes my body of work bold, distinctive, and intense is my subject matter along with the visual aspects of my paintings. Conceptually my work stems from personal experiences, relationships with others, and reality.

When trying to master realistic figurative painting I place my subject matters in a creative space meeting between reality and my exploration through introspection as an intersectional woman. With a vibrant color palette and photorealistic figures, my work attempts to give a transcendental experience to the viewer using fluid backgrounds, transparent elements, and content involving social critique and metaphysical themes.

Walk the Line

John Paul “JP” Dingens is a photographer that oscillates between creative gigs in live music, events, and film production.

Protest is an incredible act to partake in–and a powerful act to witness as well. In person, you experience shock when confronted with entirely unwarranted violence, especially when perpetrated against people that are protesting against… unwarranted violence.

The photos that attempt to capture people trying to confront injustice head on–at the risk of their own bodily harm–do not carry the same power as the acts themselves, but they damn sure grab your attention. And, if momentarily, such photos can force us to confront the realities that give rise to these protests.

Frog Prince

Christina Cicchelli is a self-described “fabulous freak of nature” who dabbles in acrylics, poetry and digital collage.

My artwork tends to be intense because I tend to be intense at times.

Not that I mean to be. But there is something arresting in the process of matching that intensity in whatever medium I decide to use. My thoughts often race and my mood and emotions are hard to regulate at times, but when I’m in the act of making and I watch the colors come alive, everything is in harmony. It’s as if the whole world is singing.


Trey Abraham is a printmaker and painter who often combines the two mediums to create surreal work.

I attended the Memphis College of Art and received a BFA in 2012 with a concentration in printmaking. My print experience often informs my painting practice with stenciling, stamping, and other monoprint processes making regular appearances in my mixed media paintings.

I use bold colors and pattern vibration in my pieces. Layers of text and patterns mix to become dynamic texture where edges of one form dissolve into the next creating vibrant, visual, psychedelic playgrounds that people can explore and get lost in.

John Moonan is a creator of many things. Recently, he’s focused on ceramics, to create both functional and non-functional art.

My current medium is ceramics, using such a material helps keep my heart and mind in touch with this wonderful planet we like to call home. I love to create works of art that provide the viewer an opportunity to have an introspective experience. I try to appeal to the whole spectrum of functionality that ranges from something that is used on a daily basis or a piece of work that you can have a conversation about.

I take an untraditional approach to ceramics to spark questions in people’s minds about the process itself, using their sense of wonder as a vessel to journey deeper into the world of art. Finding and imprinting vibrations within the clay paired with a neon pallet gives the viewers a taste of psychedelia. Playing with optical and conceptual perspective, I want my work to stand out enough that you may want to take a bite out of it!

I feel my art not only can catch people’s attention but cradle their curiosity of existence itself.

Way Out There

Jade Tantillo combines vintage and modern images in her handmade collages.

To create my style, I merge retro/vintage photography with modern (typically desert-inspired) photography. I adore old-soul style that invokes a sense of unexplainable nostalgia.

My style of art is ever-evolving. My love of tangible sketches developed into points on a computer screen to morph antiquated images with present-day photographs. My paintings are blunt and abstract. My yarn work is delicate and vibrant. Many of my pieces are tantalizing and suggestive, whether socially or politically. I claim to work with an old-soul style that invokes a sense of unexplainable nostalgia.

Paper Coyote

Kirk Morrision is a Native American artist from the Kintsugi Clan within the Creek Muskogee Tribe. He strives to educate and broaden perspectives with shocking collages through unique imagery.

I view art through a lens shaped by my life’s experiences. Native American history and culture, combat sports, mindfulness, and gratitude characterize those experiences.

My art pays homage to the Mvskoke Nation, of which I am a member. I draw inspiration from, and pay respect to, many other Tribes.

As a reconnecting, urban Native, I feel myself uniquely positioned to share culture with those who would normally not be exposed. History should be studied and remembered. Tradition should not be forgotten. Art, old and new, should be valued and shared. Groups of humans should have the ability and desire to learn about each other’s culture in a real way.


Diego Zion moved to Austin from Venezuela when he was 10 years old, and has been making art ever since.

I work primarily in acrylics, with lots of bright colors and a wide range of different styles. I usually try to make art that is fun for the viewer to look at.

My most recent series Stimulation Theory, has a mix of digital and analog concepts combined with a vaporwave theme, and hinted at the idea of physical reality transferring to a metaverse. I like to use bold, contrasting colors to create visually stimulating imagery. If I can get a smile out of the viewer, I consider the painting a success!

Calla Lily

Blair Gallacher is a visual artist who primarily works with paint and specializes in large abstract pieces with an emphasis on color.

I’m an intuitive, which is a big explanation for my work conceptually. My work is intuitively created and comes to me through dreams, messages, visions, and outside direction. I’m also synesthetic, meaning I see colors by way of auras, music, feelings, etc. I make work to share my experiences with others and transmit healing. To me, art is very much a language.

My work is big, vibrant and anything but subtle. I think of my work as larger than art, larger than life–instead, it mimics life. It’s representative of life. Because I paint energy, my work is meant to be an emotionally intense and transformative experience. I see the pieces as portals to step into and become transported. Because of this quality, I honestly think my work could fit right in.

Reversed Censorship

J.C. Amorrortu mixes his classical training with modern art to ceate eye-catching oil paintings.

What makes my work powerful and bold is the simple fact that I do what I want and I don’t really care what people think of me. I have been threatened by Instagram and Facebook twice because of my art.

I want my work to stand out from the rest because wanting to be like everyone else is a waste of the person I am.

There are always symbols and hidden messages in my work. I wanna teach people to look past the initial image. The image is the hook, then comes the meanings behind it, which tie to society, religion, politics, sex, etc.

I feel most artists paint “pretty” things like birds and trees and are afraid of their shadow side or what people may say about them. I love the light and the dark.

Joe Hermosa is a multi-disciplinary artist known to paint murals, design and produce clothing and create digital art.

My art contains a variety of bold color palettes and crisp line work. I enjoy creating fun and interesting color combinations using complimentary colors. Much of my art depicts a variety of characters with all types of emotions. The ability for viewers to take away or enjoy different aspects of my art pieces is powerful in that each viewer has the opportunity to enjoy it in their own way.

I appreciate the variables that go on for me when creating. This ranges from the technical side of creating the art itself, to my real world experiences or encounters that go into each piece. By this I mean my experiences in the time frame that I am working on the piece, as well as the ones that have molded me into the person I am while creating said piece.

Nice and Blue

Genreally Right Brained uses her background in painting to inform her photography.

I love capturing the small and beautiful moments in nature that we walk by every day and miss either because we aren’t paying attention or they are too hard to see. Having a restrictive chronic illness forced me to slow down and in the process I began to see the tiny beautiful details around me and I wanted to share those with others. I also enjoy marrying the style of acrylic painting with traditional photography to produce saturated but soft imagery.

In my pieces I seek to incorporate striking colors and contrasts to create a vivid first impression and bring the viewer in to see what lies in the details.

I’m hoping to create memorable art pieces that grab the attention of the viewer and perhaps encourage them to start appreciating and conserving nature around themselves.

Most of my photographs are captured in my own garden which is a unique detail behind most pieces. My ultimate hope is that people will see my work and be inspired to take in more of the beautiful parts of the world around them.


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