Paco RosicStreet Artist
Evelin Rosic was born in 1979 in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia to a Muslim father and a Catholic mother. He was raised amidst this union of differing cultures and traditions in a thriving and diverse city. His family struggled, but life at home was healthy and happy. Through both sides of his family, he was exposed to a wide range of art, music, and culture.
Unfortunately, civil war would eventually shatter this idyllic life with the collapse of Yugoslavia when Evelin was 12. Because of their diverse backgrounds, the Rosics were not welcome on either side of war. They were forced to hide from religious and ethnic persecution from all of the warring parties. Finally, they had to pack everything into a small car and ride a gauntlet of bullets and bombs to the Austrian border.
Evelin and his family emerged from this darkness into the light of Ludwigshafen, Germany. It was 1992, and Evelin discovered the world of hip-hop culture and dance that had made its way over from America. In a new land, with his new identity as Paco Rosic, he joined the B-boy dance group known as the Unique Wizzards, who danced as back-up for many major hip-hop acts touring Europe. In the tradition of “Zulu nation” born from the New York hip-hop scene, Paco’s talent as both artist and dancer exploded.
But Germany was not to be the final stop. After the war, asylum ended. The Rosics were still unwelcome in their homeland. With time quickly running out and no place to go, the United States offered the family another chance to rebuild. In September of 1997, the Rosics landed in Waterloo, Iowa.
Paco’s parents again worked long hours with low pay as they tried to make the best of their new home and create a life for the third time. In the isolation and loneliness of a new place, Paco turned to graffiti, an art form of powerful color and expression he had learned in Germany. No longer painting publicly or illegally “tagging”, Paco started to evolve his aerosol street art into something new and exciting. His art was a blend of the edgy street art of graffiti with the traditional art he was exposed to as a child. A lack of money for traditional canvases found Paco purchasing sheets of Masonite on which to express his pain and despair in a way to try and create an identity in his new home. Soon the word got out about this young Bosnian spray paint artist. Paco was again resurrected from hopelessness and loss.
Inspired since childhood by the Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel, Paco envisioned this painting redone with aerosol. With his family’s history working in the food industry, an idea was born. Create a destination restaurant with the art of the Sistine chapel as its centerpiece. The family poured everything they had into a worn out, abandoned building downtown. Paco worked tirelessly to create his dream. After almost five months, a classic Renaissance was reborn in Eastern Iowa to wide national acclaim. ABC nightly news, along with many others, came to Waterloo to document his accomplishment. Today, Galleria de Paco has become became a tourist destination for people throughout not only the country, but the world.
Paco continues to use his art as a bandage for his life’s wounds, proclaiming that the most inspiring part of being an artist to him is that he does what he wants to do, not for commercial exploitation, but as a means of self-expression. “An artist ideally paints what he wants to paint, you paint for yourself and hope that others like it rather than painting for others hoping they will like it too.” He paints to heal. He paints to cope. He paints to survive.