ABC7 Marine Vet as Art Therapy
(George Pennacchio Interview)

Roberto Gutierrez

Distinguished Contemporary Chicano Artist, Roberto Gutierrez has spent most of his adult life painting biographical collections of his beloved East Los Angeles, his birthplace.

As an artist, I work hard to create paintings that speak to me and touch others about the beauty that exists in our normal everyday lives and immediate surroundings. This is what has always inspired me. I’ve always had a historical interest and through my paintings, have wanted to preserve the neighborhoods for future generations.

 As a native Angelino, I spent so much of my time looking down from the now demolished 6th Street Bridge, watching the people as they walked, rode their bicycles or drove their cars—images of people living out their normal everyday lives. The challenge, as with any recreated moment from the past, is to not caricature the moment and instead capture it in all its former glory.

For 75 years, I’ve witnessed the City of Los Angeles grow by leaps and bounds. And, today is no different as Boyle Heights is the latest community to be hit with Gentrification. As an artist, I do not merely want to capture the images with my brushes; rather, with careful, colorful strokes I want to contribute to society paintings that illustrate the beauty of what “el Barrio” East Los Angeles once looked like rather than how these streets are looking today.

New York Painting

 In recent years, I’ve gone beyond the barrio to the great metropolis of New York City, as well as retraced the steps of my artist heroes in Paris.

Currently, my paintings have expanded to include abstract images as expressed in my “Elegy to the 6th Street Bridge,” suite, a cathartic collection because I walked the bridge as a young boy and I have now witnessed its demise.

In college, I studied extensively the great French artists— Monet, Matisse, Cezanne, and the Paris transplants like Modigliani, Soutine, Chagall, Picasso, and Van Gogh, among others.

In 2012, my Paris Collection paid homage to my artist heroes. When I walked the streets of Paris, if a particular sight inspired me, I just run with it based on my feelings. One painting might look like an impressionist, and another one might impress me and remind of Soutine, so I go with it.

 My artwork speaks, not only for me, but also for people born in low-income barrios, for young military veterans who need inspiration and life purpose, and to those unable to travel to foreign lands. Everyone should at least visit Paris once if even through my paintings.

Thank you for stopping by.

Roberto Gutierrez