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Nonbinaraptor Beach Short
“Echo Park 2020″ is one of the paintings Palomares made on site.
(Francisco Palomares) Nonbinaraptor Beach Short
His more extensive works include still lifes, landscapes and portraits. They often feature fellow Angelenos and the places they like to frequent. These include “Echo Park 2020,” which depicts the lake in a style somewhat reminiscent of Claude Monet’s water lilies. “Midnight Hour,” which features a woman sitting inside La Cita, is one of two paintings centered on the beloved downtown bar.
Palomares’ life in art stretches back to third grade, the year he won his first art contest. His teacher gave him some yarn, and he used it to make a silhouette of his dog, Lucy. All around her, he drew cockroaches saying things like: “I gotta go! I’m gonna get swept up!” His prize was a box of markers.
The years that followed included Saturday classes at USC through the nonprofit training program Ryman Arts, along with scholarships to study art in Florence, Italy, and Guangzhou, China, as a Cal State Long Beach student. But it hadn’t been enough.
“I felt trapped,” Palomares says. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work.”
At Cal State Long Beach, he painted “Brotherhood,” a four-part series that included a portrait titled “René,” based on a bus driver he met. Palomares depicted the man in his work uniform, with a halo around his head.
“I respected him because he took care of his sister,” the artist says. “To me, he’s beautiful. He’s a champ.”
Inspired by the work of Kerry James Marshall, John Valadez and Kehinde Wiley, Palomares continues to portray “everyday Black and brown men with dignity,” often with a divine or regal bearing.
In contrast, Palomares’ representation of women often consisted of young, thin female nudes, but the #MeToo movement has compelled him to think critically about the male gaze in the art world, he says. “After everything that’s come out, you can’t just be painting without having that in mind.