The Muckenthaler Cultural Center’s current art exhibition by Los Angeles artist Eloy Torrez, “Shades of Us,” consists of a range of portraits that capture the transcendent personality of his subjects;
“Shades of Us” captures the “diverse spectrum of individual expressions in the American social and cultural fabric,” according to guest art curator Jimmy Centeno.
With an art career that spans over 35 years, Torrez is well known for his ability to capture the liveliness and personality of his subjects. He is especially known for his 70-foot high mural in LA titled “Pope of Broadway” featuring Academy Award-winning Mexican American drama actor Anthony Quinn.
The Muckenthaler is displaying 20 of Torrez’s portraits that can be seen in person by making a reservation on the center’s website.
Having all of Torrez’s work displayed rather than a singular piece was described by Centeno as a music album “where each song is different in tone and rhythm, but similar in theme.”
The inspiration to create a portrait exhibition struck Torrez when visiting a David Hockney art exhibit in LA. Torrez saw how Hockney’s portraits gave a viewer insight into the artist’s world. He wanted to do the same thing but present people he knew and give insight into their world.
Torrez—currently residing in LA—explained how his community also influenced his work.
“The beautiful thing about Los Angeles is the diversity. Then I realized LA is me. Genetically, I feel that a little bit of everybody is who I am; part of me came from Europe and indigenous people from here. So I decided to call it ‘Shades of Us’ which is a bigger encompassing idea as us as human beings,” Torrez explained
While trying to capture the initial essence of his subjects, Torrez admitted he puts part of himself in each work and explained how this realization came about when speaking with his subject Daniel Joseph Martinez
“You’re using us. We’re your subject matter, but it’s really about you. You’re discovering something about yourself through us,” Torrez quoted from Martinez.
Admittingly, that quote stuck with Torrez as it made him think about his own Latino heritage and the idea that each individual comes from a long lineage. He thought it would be fascinating to dig into one’s brain and time travel and see how a person came to be who they are.
“As human beings, we deal with this particular time and space. This is our yard, we use our space and experience it and that’s it. But as an artist, I think I love that possibility to tap into our ancestry. It’s fun and I try to do that with the portraits,” Torrez said.
Torrez expressed that he did not have a favorite painting. He compared it to a parent being asked who their favorite child is. “You can’t answer it; they’re all a different experience. Each one presented a different set of problems to try to solve.”
The sponsor of the exhibit and CEO and president of Alta Med Health Services, Cástulo de la Rocha, has been friends with Torrez for many years and is a big art collector and supporter of the arts, particularly within the Latino community.
Torrez had an interest in painting his portrait in particular as he wanted to include Latino individuals that give substantial support to the community and de la Roche did so by contributing to the Chicano rights movement.
Currently, AltaMed employees and their parties can have their admission waived by showing their employee badge.
The exhibition is $5 for groups of no more than 4 people for a 15-minute private viewing appointment. It is open for public viewing Monday – Thursday from 12 – 4 p.m. beginning April 29 – July 1. The display and reservations can be made on the Muckenthaler website.