People | Mango Peeler

Fresh off The Speed Project, we chat with Artist Athlete Mango Peeler (also know as Jepoy Garcia) and reflect on creativity, training logs and what it was like to run the relay race through the desert.

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“You would come in full throttle and then your adrenaline stops and you’re cramping up, it was such a small space so having to stretch was impossible. And with eating, everyone’s stomach was f*cked up. I was taking shits in the desert thinking like, ‘Are there f*cking snakes?!’” This was just one anecdote from Mango’s experience with The Speed Project, which took place a little over a week ago. For those who don’t know, The Speed Project is a 340 mile (547 km) unsanctioned relay race beginning in Los Angeles and finishing in Las Vegas. The relay is ran in teams of 6 runners each running the equivalent of approximately 2 marathons in just over 48 hours run almost exclusively through the desert. Mango and his team (all from Toronto running crew Parkdale Roadrunners), comprised of six runners, a nurse, a ‘security guard’, a photographer, an RV and an ATV, finished their race in 49.5 hours and, clearly, not without stories to tell.

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Throughout our conversation Mango draws parallels between his day to day work as a multimedia artist and his training as a runner. “The training is just like the day to day art thing: I’m just doing it, I know I’m going to do it. And then it’s the races and those little challenges we put on ourselves every week that spark that little bit of doubt like, ‘Can I f*cking do that?! Can I do that? I don’t know.’ So I just throw it out there and maybe I can do it. It’s always this constant chasing.” Though The Speed Project and his technicolour art may seem to be bordering on the edges of sanity, there is a method to the madness. In both practices Mango makes books, or “banks” as he occasionally refers to them, of ideas and colours that fuel is art, and training logs that fuel his running. “For me having my books—my art books and my training logs—was really important to look back on and set crazy goals but know that they are realistic. I’m pretty methodical with it.”

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Though the correlation between the two activities was not always this apparent over time Mango used structure in his running to balance out the spontaneity of his art. “With art I couldn’t even write grant applications cause I didn’t even know what art I would be making in a year so how was I supposed to write about it, But then with running, for some reason, I can plan two seasons ahead.” In 2015 Mango qualified to run the Boston Marathon and that’s exactly what he intends on doing for the impending 2017 race. “For Boston I’m going to have two cycles and train smart. But then with art that’s where I can be more abstract and live in that way.” But beyond just the structure, running fosters the subject matter of his work as well. Largely inspired by the collecting and patterning of the daily detritus of urban life, running augments his vision through constant exposure to visual stimuli that will catalyze later creations. “That’s one of the best things about going for runs for me. You’re going and you have your head down and I start seeing all the coolest shit. Like looking down and noticing, ‘Oh, look at that. That’s so beautiful.’ and then I pull it and it’s just these little hints, like clues. I’ll put it in the book or put it in the memory bank, I just preserve it and then it will just come out in my art some way later.”

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Mango abruptly pauses in our conversation and drops down to this backpack, the contents of which that are strewn across the centre of his studio, he rifles through clothes and running shoes to pull out a journal that he began to flip through. “So during The Speed Project in Death Valley because of El Nino, the moisture and the weather there was this crazy Super Bloom of flowers. The last time a Super Bloom happened was 11 years ago! It was crazy. So as I was running I was collecting these flowers for my journals. So this flower was just in the desert. Unreal. Totally unreal.” He gently lifts the flattened yellow flower from the pages of his book looking totally awestruck. “I feel like I’m this detective and I’m just finding clues. There’s that James Joyce quote, ‘The signs that mock me as I go.’ There are these clear signs that are just laughing at you in your face showing you that you’re on the right path. Sometimes I’m like ‘I don’t know why I’m doing this run,’ but then things would happen reminding me that that,” he says indicating the flower in his journal, “is why I’m doing this run, of course. It’s just this sign that’s literally laughing at you saying, ‘Hey, you’re on the right path. Keep on going full steam ahead.”

To see more of Mango’s work check out his instagram.

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