JOHN VALADEZ – CALIFORNIA ARTIST
When I was getting out of high school and into college, a friend of mine and I went to Olvera Street because we had heard about the Siquieros mural in Olvera Street. We went to see it. We were so inspired that I wanted to repaint it. The Siquieros mural was history that was being ignored in this city. It was something that really showed me that the path we were taking politically, our social concerns about schooling and health care–all of that became part of our identity. I was a Mexican American kid embracing and trying to become a Chicano, trying to consciously make Chicano Art.
I switched from drawing to photographic because I proved to myself when I was in school that I could draw. I could do it from just looking at something and drawing it. But it took too damn long. I had a lot of things I wanted to say
and by the time I finished doing a drawing the old-fashioned way, I would get bored to death. I wanted to move on. I was driven by what I had to do and, for me, the camera was a tool. It was just another tool, like a pencil or a paint brush.
They call it photorealism, but I appreciate people who could recognize that I wasn’t trying to redo a photo. I was trying to get beyond that. I was trying to draw people that I saw on the street that I
related to. It wasn’t about feeling sorry for people. It’s showing our strength who we are. You want to do something that has multiple meanings because the worst thing for me is to be boring.
I have always been interested in social dynamics. That’s why the Broadway Mural. When you are a figurative artist, you are trying to portray us at this time. I’m doing portraits of marginalized people. I try to use symbolism in my realistic portrayals. Its allegory, its expressive symbolism.