Artist John Valadez



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.

"Car Show" by John Valadez

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

"Out of the car-detail" by John Valadez

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

"Broadway Mural - Detail" by John Valadez

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.

"Out of the car" by John Valdez

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.


  1. Larry rush says

    Dear Mr. Valadez
    I am an art teacher in Las Vegas Nevada. With your permission I would like to use the information in this article in my
    classes. We do an artist study each month and the students select the one who interests them. I am really pleased to find
    Latinopia for me, It is a dream come true. I have talked about the muralists of Mexico. Now I will confirm their importance by
    artists like yourself who recognized Siquieros and his place in the world of art.

    • latinopia says

      Dear Larry, Great to hear about the great work you are doing educating our kids and giving them a sense of their history and culture. Yes, please feel free to download the article on John Valadez. His voice is also featured in the Latinopia video "What is Chicano Art?" The video is to be found under the Latinopia Art page. Be sure to check it out. We'll be having a John Valadez video later in the year. Abrazos, Tia Tenopia

  2. Larry Rush says

    What is Chicano Art? I found out this evening thanks to you I will be sharing the video with the students tomorrow.

  3. Larry Rush says

    Dear Tia, Thank you for the lesson plans. My school is designed for children with learning differences. My students are very interested in every aspect that Latinopia offers. Three students have selected their artist for the next three months. John Valadez
    will be our first of many artists. We watched his Museum interview and the student who selected him left school today with a
    huge sheet of charcoal paper . She plans to work on a portrait of Siquieros based on a sculpture by Arch Garner. I studied with
    him on Cannery Row in the sixties. Mr. Garner did the portrait in the late thirties or early forties. The thing that really interests
    me is the fact that David Alfaro Siquieros may have poised for the statue. Thanks , Larry Rush

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