Photographer proves her ‘Art is a Crime’


Shocking, unsettling and captivating, the crime scene photography of Arlene Ibarra undoubtedly grabs attention and reaction from viewers. Teaming up with Jaegermeister, Ibarra (who also moonlights as a contributing PACIFIC photographer) unleashes her newest set of images in Art is a Crime on June 18, photographing San Diego bartenders in an array of graphic, bloody scenarios.

Beyond just an art show, the event will also feature music by Ikah Love and Heminguey, food by DJ Tangalin of Bivouac Ciderworks, and tattoos by Jordae. In advance of the show, PACIFIC sat down with Ibarra to find out more about her latest project.

PACIFIC: What is the inspiration for this latest series of Art is a Crime?

ARLENE IBARRA: I studied forensic science in college. That was the original inspiration, the first crime scenes I created as an artist were based on what I learned. Jagermeister is a client and liked that it pushed boundaries. They commissioned me to create more with five craft cocktail bartenders in San Diego. Bartenders are always photographed graceful behind the bar, and we wanted to do something out of the ordinary.

Were the crime scenes based on real events?

No not at all. One was based on American Psycho, another an insane asylum, another Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

What is the Hubertus Circle we see in the images?

It refers to a group of bartenders that are chosen by Jagermeister who are influential in their community. Jager sends them to do guest bartending spots around the world.

What’s the average reaction to your images?

I’ve done these type of shows before, and the initial reaction is shock and confusion. People either love it or hate it, it’s either “Wow” or “What the hell?” There are people that are horror fanatics that love this stuff. It’s pushing the boundaries of art for people.

What would you say to critics that say you are glorifying violence?

It’s like a horror film. Based on my education, a lot of people don’t like to see that side of the world, but professionals still have to process that world. My interpretation is that it is with an artistic perspective.

Is the blood real?

Yeah, it’s pork blood. You can’t replicate real blood with fake blood.

What would you do if you were protested by animal rights activists for using pig’s blood?

I don’t know. As artist, not everyone is going to like what I do. I’m not here to please everyone. I don’t do it for everybody else.

What is the takeaway from this series?

The point of the photos, there’s no right or wrong answers. I have the story in my mind, but really it’s left up to you to decide. You figure out what happened.

What’s next up for you?

There’s been a lot of interest in the series, so there are more crime scenes planned, which will also be a bigger production for me. I want to stay creative and come up with more storylines.

Where can San Diegans your work?

On Instagram at @artisacrime, and people can contact me at for purchasing inquires.

Art is a Crime

When: 7-10 p.m. Monday

Where: Studio 710, 13th St., Suite 300, downtown