A Reminder of My Own Artistic Roots

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Ronald Lopez, Mija's Restaurant, San Marino, CA, 2000, 8' x 4', Acrylic on canvas mounted on wall

As the new Director of Outpost for Contemporary Art, I have the privilege of implementing an engaging project entitled Full Dollar Collection of Contemporary Art.

Originally started in Ecuador by urban anthropologist X. Andrade, Full Dollar pays tribute to the traditional craft of sign painting while at the same time providing a critique of the contemporary art market. During his residency in Los Angeles, Andrade will steer a collaborative dialogue between artists, business owners, students, and the community. The storefronts of York Blvd. will become a blank canvas for a unique form of commercial art.

For me the project seems both ironic and serendipitous. My first experience as an artist was through the vehicles of mural and sign painting. It is quite fascinating then that my first project at Outpost takes me back to those days - from painting a mural at a small Mexican restaurant in San Marino, California (see photo above) to painting my most significant mural/sign in Istanbul, Turkey where I ended up living for 4 ½ years.

Ronald on his experiences in Turkey and what the Full Dollar project means for the neighborhood of Highland Park
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The current project at Outpost reminds me of my sign-painting days when painting with a 1-2 inch Langnickel brush and a can of One Shot sign enamel was a momentous occasion. There wasn't anything more satisfying than loading my brush with lead filled paint and 'cutting' a full edge of a letter. It was breathtaking.

In many ways, those early years of sign painting informed my negotiating abilities today - from dealing with clients who insisted on certain pictorial ideas or colors, to talking the price down, to finally seeing the "way" the piece should be executed. In the end, the client was always satisfied with my work, for the most part. In many ways, the move to Highland Park to run Outpost becomes not only a good shift in my career but a fond reminder of my own artistic roots.


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