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Joe Iurato's Little Climbers


When you were in art school is this what you thought your art would be like?


Oh, no no no no. There are no art classes that are going to teach you graffiti and street art. But I did study graphic design for a little while. I went to work for Movado watches doing billboards while I was in school. I couldn't deal with sitting there taking someone else's creative direction the whole time. I just can't do it if it doesn't feel right. Or maybe you just have to climb that ladder but I wasn't prepared to do that at the time. I was studying graphic design, and I went through 3 1/2 years. After the magazine I contemplated going back to get my degree and teaching art but that didn't happen.

How'd you start climbing?

I'm from Jersey. And I came from being a skater, doing some partying. And my wife, then girlfriend, and I were looking for something else. So we went indoors. We went to the New Jersey Rock Gym and toproped our first day. One of the route setters there was Matt Stark and we fell to talking that first night and by the weekend I was with him in the Gunks bouldering and embarrassing myself. No exciting stories. I went to the gym once, then went outside with Matt, and have never stopped. I started making climbing videos under the name "IndeVisual" back in the day. Just short videos of me and my friends and our travels. I started traveling to festivals with these things. That's how I wound up with Urban Climber. The publisher saw one of my videos and was like, Hey you ever write before? And I was like, No but I can try.

You got into climbing in your mid-twenties. It seems like most people get into the sport in high school or college. Do you have any advice for people just getting into the after those times?

Yeah. As far as I am concerned, I came into climbing at the right time. But, I don't want to speak for all teenagers. But you know, you go through phases as a teenager, something strikes you, you try it have fun and you move on. Life gets in the way, work, the whole nine yards, and a lot of time you don't hold onto those things that really were important. Being a little bit older, when you find something that really strikes you, you know it is there to stay. You have a lot of your life in order. And I think you're in a better frame of mind when you're older. I was climbing everyday at age twenty-six and I was the oldest in our crew. I was climbing with seventeen-year-olds but it didn't really matter. I had so much pysche and I still do. If you really like climbing at a latter point in life, and you really fall in love with it, I think it's a good indication that it will stay in your life.

For more information about Joe Iurato, or to purchase his Alpinist Artist Series Post Card Set, click here. Find the latest additions to The Climbers Series here.

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Katie Ives

Dear Goingup,

We posted this article about Joe's art because we thought it was a fascinating way to remind people, even in the city, of the presence of the wild and the possibilities of adventure. To me, these figures represent a way of jarring urban dwellers out of their routines and making them think about what lies beyond the traffic, the concrete and the indoors.

As far as the magazine goes, since the beginning, we've always had a few articles that talk about rock or ice climbing at smaller crags, mixed in with our stories of big, snowy peaks. We've even had an article on how the early history of bouldering influenced European alpinism (The Fontainbleu Profile in Issue 12, 2005). But the overall aim continues to be what a former editor once called to get at "the fundamental essence of the pursuit." (See the Ed Note to a Letter in Issue 26.)

This past year, with our big features on K2 (Issue 37 and 38), the Eiger (Issue 40), Patagonia (Issue 39), Annapurna III (to name only a few), you should find plenty of alpine content. And there will be much more in the future. But there will also be, here and there, articles about desert towers, trad climbing and ice.

To us, alpinism is also a state of mind—it's about values like commitment, imagination, "brotherhood of the rope," self-reliance, respect for history and for the environment. And it's about the ability to dream and to act with boldness. When we see work that reflects those ideals, whether it depicts a local climber on a backyard crag, or an artist capable of dreaming of mountains in the city, or a cutting-edge alpinist on a high and distant peak, we will consider publishing it—as we always have.

Joe is one of the most talented climbing artists today—I'd encourage you to look at some of his paintings in Issue 30, 32, 39 and 40 to get a sense of the range of his work, and of his ability to portray both an external and internal wild.

Take care,

Katie Ives, Editor in Chief Alpinist Magazine

2012-10-03 19:41:17

Help me understand the connection between urban street art, or the artist, and alpinism. No offense to Joe and his artwork. There seems to be an increasing amount of material in Alpinist that has little or nothing to do with alpinism.

2012-10-02 20:44:09
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