Before becoming an artist, Modesto Covarrubias studied architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. Often reflecting his interest in architecture, his work is an investigation into the physical, psychological, and emotional connection to environments. His interdisciplinary practice employs a broad range of media including drawing, photography, installation, printmaking, textiles, and performance.
His work has been included in exhibitions at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery; the Galleria Civica in Modena, Italy; The Poor Farm in Little Wolf, Wisconsin; The Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York; and at the Oakland International Airport. His work has been featured at the Oakland Museum’s Gallery 555; Marin Museum of Contemporary Art; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA); and in Oakland and San Francisco magazines.
Covarrubias often collaborates on projects with different artists, including an on-going collaboration with fellow CCA Associate Professor KC Rosenberg. They call their collaborative practice RoCoCo. They describe their practice as a dialog of making, and they are interested in the juxtaposition of materials and response to space (architectural and natural) in their exploration of complex emotional states, social justice, and contemporary culture. RoCoCo’s work most often takes form through sculptural installations, but has also included video, performance, drawing, painting, and audience participation. RoCoCo were Artists-in-Residence at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles in the fall of 2017 and in 2019 were commissioned to create a temporary textile sculpture on the vacant pedestal at the base of the great lawn of Montalvo Arts Center.
Covarrubias has been involved with various curatorial projects. He was part of the artist salon group and curatorial team Studio 5,4 Projects. This team acted as the curators of visual arts in San Francisco for the Red Poppy Art House and for Flying Under the Radar / Voando Sob o Radar, an international festival that pairs artists from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Bay Area to collaborate on new work.
A Bay Area native, Covarrubias lives in Berkeley and maintains a studio in Oakland, California.