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Tiny Arch Gallery 001: Luis Zavala Tapia

We are thrilled to introduce our Tiny Arch Gallery inside our brick & mortar where we will be featuring various artist every now and then. During this uneasy time, Luis Zavala Tapia couldn't be a more perfect artist. He brings a cheerful spirit to the space with his latest work, I Always Wanted To Get Into Shape(s).

I had the pleasure of visiting Zavala's quaint yet magical studio in Long Beach.  It was refreshing to be focusing on someone else's work for a change. Before this visit, I recall reading a poem he wrote that expresses what he was painting and what the lines meant to him. It was beautiful and I not only just love the work but I now feel emotionally connected. As we sat at a distance in his studio, Zavala spoke to me about the new work he created and right off the bat, you could sense a deep passion and connection with his paintings. He pushed himself by working with abstract shapes that he had yet to use in previous works. This led to sleepless nights that I know too well as a maker/artist. The emotions you go through during the creative process is something I absolutely can relate to and honestly, it was nice to know I wasn't alone. Expressing himself through these new motifs was not easy for Zavala but he welcomed the challenge. This I learned is what often keeps artists vulnerable and emotional when something new is put out to the world. As I sat there observing his five new oil works, I loved seeing the life and texture that the brushstroke gave to this 2-Dimensional art form. The captivating, bright colors and gentle, abstract shapes sent me to a delightful, familiar place and even with its bold colors, I am left with a sense of tranquility.


1. We talked briefly how you recently quit your day job to be a full time artist. What gave you the courage and motivation to take this step? What feelings were you going through when you finally opened this next chapter in your life?

That's correct. The motivation came from work burnout. I simply found myself going about my day, like many of us, doing things I just didn't find joy in anymore. But the most troublesome fact was that I was unaware of it for years and considered this "just the way my life was going to be forever." In 2019 I took a well deserved break after a decade-long career as a graphic designer. I mostly worked for art galleries and museums. Interesting because I was an artist myself but had to put my practice on the backburner to get a job that actually made me money. So it only made sense that I'd once again return to my art practice once I had time to think about things. At first it was to take time to play and rediscover my joy. A sort of therapy you might say. So when 2020 came and COVID arrived I was struggling to find work and to pay rent and buy food. I began to deliver groceries daily and it helped me for a bit. In the meantime I continued to make art for fun. Then one day I stumbled on an idea. I started drawing portraits of friends and strangers online just to pass the time away and long and behold someone offered to pay me for their portrait. It was such a sweet sentiment and it just took off from there. Funny, when I think of it now, but committing to myself instead of seeking employment was a rather super easy decision. I sometimes wonder why I didn't do this sooner. But as they say, it's never too late to find your joy.

2. I’m sure your work will be ever evolving but how would you describe your work? 

I think because of my art education and experience working at galleries and museums I've certainly been informed by in such a way that my work today is a response to unlearning all that I have learned along the way. My work today is in fact about self discovery and learning more and more about myself and embracing my interests and owning my space and that which keeps me curious and in a state of learning. Yes, if I can describe my work in just a few words I'd say it's about a little brown boy—an Odysseus in the midst of his Odyssey through war, art and life and everything that comes with it. 


3. As a jewelry maker, I tend to get lost in time and get emotional while creating something that was forming in my head.  I go through tons of trial and error before feeling completely satisfied. What inspired your latest oil painting series for our gallery? How was it for you when creating this collection? Was it an emotional process?

This new series of paintings pay homage to some of the shapes and forms I’ve long been inspired by. From my early trips to the capital city of Guanajuato in the state of the same name where I was born in Mexico—with it’s colorful colonial and neo-classical architecture, culture and artisans—to my current neighborhood in Alamitos Beach in Long Beach, CA and it’s too Spanish colonial influence,1920’s craftsman homes, classic bungalows, archways and stairs mixed in with of course palm trees, corals and the ocean. This work is a celebration of form and color and a poem to the place I now call home, so far and yet so near as I can now see to the place I came from.
Creating is always emotional for me. There is such a vulnerability in the process of making something that truly comes from within you, isn't there? I mean it can be so easy at times but also very difficult too. I'm at a point where I now accept all this as part of the process and I try to just roll with it and not question it.

4. What do you enjoy doing during your leisure time?

I love watching movies. Right now I miss going to the movies the most and watching at home is simply not the same. Other than that, I try to go on a bike ride or on a run almost everyday. If not, just a plain old walk around the neighborhood. In fact, it was during some of these walks, seeing houses and shapes that I started to imagine these works.


5. Do you have any artists you admire? 

I do. Too many to mention but if you're gonna twist my arm I'd have to say Klimt, Hodler, Rodin, Matisse and of course, because I'm a sucker for ancient art I like Exekias—he was Greek-vase painter from back in the day.


Luis Zavala Tapia is an artist born in Mexico and raised in Los Angeles. He graduated from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) with an MFA in Fine Art in 2007 and earned and BFA in painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004. He currently lives and works in Long Beach, CA. Zavala’s art practice focuses on ways to celebrate representation through the use of form and color with an emphasis on art history and his own experiences growing up in two countries. Inspired by ancient art, the tropics, shapes and colors from his childhood home in Guanajuato, Mexíco, Zavala creates work that repositions an emphasis on the importance of being seen as our own selves in a world where many feel unseen or misrepresented as a way to encourage ways of healing and attaining self-autonomy.

You can learn more about the artist at www.luiszavalatapia.com and @luiszavalatapia.


 Luis Zavala Tapia's 'I Always Wanted To Get Into Shape(s)' series and other original works are showcased in our Tiny Arch Gallery inside Marida Jewelry's store: 2712 E. 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814. Come view the complete collection in person now!


Any inquiries related to purchasing art can be sent to: info@maridajewelry.com

If you are interested in featuring your work, please email us at marida@maridajewelry.com.


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