IN FOCUS: Francisco Palomares

Bermudez Projects
Apr 29, 2023 11:26PM

To celebrate the opening of No Parking on PalomaresBLVD, we "spoke" with Francisco about the heroes in his life and what inspired the paintings in this exhibition. This story is in his own words.

Francisco Palomares
Alameda St. , 2023
Bermudez Projects

When I think about my artwork for this solo show, I envision a movie:

I flash back to when I was a boy going on mandados (errands) with my mom. Jumping in the car and driving from East LA to DTLA, riding along Olympic Boulevard. We pass my favorite gallery walls – murals painted at the cleaners or on the side of a Payless Shoes [by artists, like] Paul Botello. The scale, beauty, and story captivated me.

We’re on the road, but the issue now is finding our destination.

We don’t have a map or GPS. So, we pull up and ask the person sitting on a bus bench:

“Oiga sabes dónde estamos...?”

We get unclear directions: “Como en dos bloques, va a mirar la licor y haga una derecho. Si pasa la calle Figueroa, se paso.”

We go too far and, now are making a right on PalomaresBLVD.

In one of our previous adventures I can remember this moment, and my mom laughing, saying “This street reminds me of Mexico. Are we still in LA?”

Francisco Palomares
4th Street Wholesale, 2023
Bermudez Projects

PalomaresBLVD is a fictional street in Los Angeles. It is a street of immigrants, artists, and Latino businesses. We exit the car. Now, we are among the people. We hear cumbias, norteños, banda, hip hop, Spanish rock, and jazz playing throughout the block.

My portraits are a reflection of my youth: diverse, eager, and artistic, set with DTLA as the backdrop.

Our mandado is to get flowers and vases because my mom is decorating the apartment for the tenth time. My mom tells me: “Hace de pintar ese tipo de pinturas,” pointing at a decorative painting of a bouquet of flowers. “Eso se venderian bien.”

“Sí, mom,” I say.

The paintings series “Homage to My Mothers” is an ofrenda (offering) to mothers like mine. Mixing my past, present, and future; first generation Mexican American who grew up in a working-class community of house cleaners who now strives to succeed in the Fine Art world.

Because, before I even knew anything about guys like Andy Warhol or Pablo Picasso, I grew up seeing paintings and murals by Los Four, Carlos Almaraz, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, Roberto de la Rocha, and Frank Romero.

Francisco Palomares
Red Bouquet, 2018
Bermudez Projects

At the end of the block of PalomaresBLVD is a fruit vendor. All around him are [street signs]: “No Parking,” “No Loitering,” “No Public Restrooms,” “No Housing.” It is astonishing to me that in the City of LA – [a place] that polices its immigrant, black, brown, and indigenous community, so oppressively – [we] succeed in creating a little community for [ourselves].

Francisco’s Fresh Painting is my very own art installation/art gallery/performance piece that activates public space and comments on the resilience and ingenuity of street vendors.

Finally, [as we make our way through PalomaresBLVD, there are] my paintings of piñatas. [With these paintings, I am] exporting my culture out of my East LA neighborhood into the white walls of America. My prize possessions are piñatas: these inexpensive papel de china or papier-mâché, glue, and cardboard sculptures hold so much cultural symbolism inside.

Equally, [they serve] as a self-portrait, like others of my generation who got a higher education and entered [professional] fields where we are not commonly seen.

We are not around our gente anymore. And, we hold the weight of our underrepresented communities on our shoulders. We are exotic, beautiful beings that are beginning to confidently own new spaces.

You’re lucky if you find parking in LA, but not if you don’t know where to look.

Francisco Palomares
La Piñata va a la China, 2019
Bermudez Projects

Bermudez Projects conducted this interview with Francisco Palomares via email in April 2023. It has been lightly edited for clarity.

No Parking on PalomaresBLVD ends May 13.

Bermudez Projects