Joe Lopez has become a significant leader of the Chicano Art Movement, known nationally as an artist who paints real life, and as a man who stands up for his family, his culture, and his rights, even in the greatest adversity. He has persevered throughout his life, first to be “normal” even though he was born with only one hand; to learn the skills of an artist with virtually no resources for art school or lessons; to open his own studio and art gallery where he shows the work of “undiscovered” artists as well as his own work; and to fight and win a legal battle against a major U.S. company that not only attacked the title of one of his best-known paintings, but the very culture he strives to portray in his artwork.
Lopez’ introduction to art came from his Uncle Basilio, a part-time artist who made wooden folk art carvings. Lopez later trained under the nationally recognized watercolor artist Warren Hunter, and other well-known Texas artists, such as John Squire Adams, Finis Collins and Jesus “Chista” Cantu. Nationally acclaimed artist Jesse Trevino was an inspiration to Lopez because of his ability to paint with one hand.
Joe Lopez paints people he can identify with: people who have struggled through life. Street vendors and common laborers are a strong theme in his paintings. As a young boy Lopez sold newspapers, his cousins worked as shoe shine boys and his uncle sold ice cream in the neighborhood after work. Lopez’ paintings show the beautiful dignity and pride of “los vendedores” who sell street dolls, nopalitos, fruit, cascarones, knowing that it will bring money that will help support their families.
His latest exhibition is now on view at Centro Cultural Aztlan. For more information, please call Centro Cultural Aztlan M-TH, 10:00am to 4:00pm at 210-432-1896 or come by Centro Cultural Aztlan’s office located in the Deco Building at 1800 Fredericksburg Road, Suite 103.