Francisco Palomares fuses lived experience with an abiding love of classical art history, creating richly rendered oil paintings depicting the people, places, and objects he most identifies with the life and culture of his beloved hometown of Los Angeles. In his portraits, urban vistas, and slightly surreal still lifes, Palomares generates emotional atmospheres and beguiling detail, capturing both a thoughtful evocation of tradition and an ebullient embrace of modern existence. He thinks of his East L.A. studio as a sort of street on the inside, a holistic continuum of experiment and storytelling. Lately he’s enacted this dynamic more literally, setting up a mobile painting mini-studio in a fruit vendor’s cart, and cruising public spaces creating on the spot produce-based still life paintings for scores of surprised and satisfied customers. This week, he demonstrates in a live painting session streamed from the Garden show at Art Share.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
FRANCISCO PALOMARES: I knew I was an artist when in third grade I won my first drawing contest. The class assignment was to use one string of yarn and make a drawing. I drew my dog Lucy hanging out in front of the yard. I won a set of markers.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My artwork is a visual diary of my life. I document the people, culture, and landscape of Los Angeles through the classical medium of oil paints.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Stand up comedy.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I received my Bachelors of Fine Arts in drawing and painting from California State University Long Beach. I was in the art department of the school. The reason I chose to go to a 4-year college rather than just an art school was for the college experience. I wanted to study abroad, meet other people outside of art, join student organizations, and be in a large school.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I am a first generation native Angeleno born and raised in East L.A. My mom immigrated from Mexico to give us a better life and that’s what we have done here in Los Angeles. I am L.A. Los Angeles inspires my work and runs in my veins.
When was your first show?
My first solo show was in 2011 at Hot Java in Long Beach, CA.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
My current show is Francisco’s Fresh Painting. A fruit cart converted to a painting cart. It is an art installation / art gallery / painting studio in one. I set up outside on the streets of L.A. and paint fresh fruit, live, in oil paints. In 30 minutes patrons can purchase an original painting to take home.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
Not really. I watch movies! I especially love documentaries on artists and their practices.
Website and social media handles, please!