We had the good fortune of connecting with Juan Gomez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Juan, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I pursued an artistic career because it gave me a voice and arena where I can share my thoughts, observations, and emotions about the world around me. I was raised in a working-class family where it was important to just have an income as a measure of success. I have always had the interest to pursue something outside a 9-5 schedule and take on a creative field. Walking this path has not been easy though, I have to be very committed and work very hard to keep sustaining my art practice. Other reasons why I pursued this path were due to the varied nature that comes with an art career. I, by no means, think that I have reached a peak in a successful run as an artist; it is always a work in progress. There are still plenty of things for me to pursue and I am learning something new every day. So far, I have had amply highs and lows, successes and failures but when it comes down to it, I think the most important thing is to keep going and developing.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My work for the past couple of years has focused on finding a point of strength while struggling with depression and anxiety. The deeper meaning behind my recent body of work speaks to the stories I was told of the struggles my family had emigrating from Mexico to the United States in the 60’s. I felt these struggles ran parallel to each other, influenced me and provided me with a point of strength that I was able to feed off of. Near the conclusion in creating this body of work I began to experiment with three dimensional forms in hopes of adding another layer to my practice. Currently I have been busy with the production of smaller mixed media works in response to the extremely negative stratification of African Americans, POC, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities in the United States. The unjustifiable deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Riah Milton and so many others along with the inhuman conditions in detention centers and the stigma associated with mental illness make it clear that these communities continue to be targeted and seen as a dangerous, less than or blemishes to certain sides. The reality that should be embraced is that we are all collectively living in a melting pot of different cultures, ethnicities and stories in which every single person is equal parts of a whole. Tragically this doesn’t exist yet. As a person of color and as an ally to all communities, my job as an artist is to counter attack those acts of unacceptance, hate, and violence through art. I want people to know that my work comes from an honest place. As an artist I have a responsibility to speak out on the issues of my times, to inform, and seek change for the better. During these difficult times, while everything has been put on hold, I have embraced the idea that the work that I must make now must be of conscious, integrity and in line with what is needed now, social change.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
With the current pandemic still going strong, I would not want anyone visiting me. But if they insist or for the sake of looking for what a new normal can be when I do venture out into a social scene, I would still want to embrace the theme of reflection and thought. Los Angeles has so much to offer in the usual hustle and bustle of the town but also in its natural landscape. I would turn to the attractions found in nature such as a hike in the Angeles National Forest, Griffith Park, or Topanga State Park. After a few “nature” focused days I would schedule appointments to see the exhibitions at the Charlie James Gallery in China Town as well as LAST Projects. For food, you can never go wrong with Guisados. I do find it hopeful that as times have changed the world will adapt to the new normal.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a lot of people that have supported my art throughout the years but for the purpose of this interview there are a few individuals I would like express my appreciation for. First and foremost, my wife Lupita Gomez-Lamas, she has been cheering me on since we were dating and continues to do so 16 years later. She is always by my side during the failures and successes. Her belief in me is fuel alone to keep going through the vastness of the art world. Another person I would like to shoutout is Kimberly Hocking. Kimberly is an artist and Director of Greenly Art Space in Signal Hill. In the Fall of 2019, I had my first major solo exhibition at her gallery. I grew so much as an artist through this opportunity and I will always be grateful for the chance she gave me. Her guidance throughout that process was a meaningful learning experience. Kimberly is a talented artist and thoughtful curator who invests so much into the artists she represents. She deserves all the accolades for all the hard work she puts in and gives to the art community. My last shoutout is to Betsy Lohrer Hall who has also given me so much guidance. She is an artist and Director of Flux Art Space in Long Beach. Over the years our relationship has grown from being her student to now being a good friend that I care for, respect, and trust. Simultaneously I consider her a mentor whose advice has always pointed me in the right direction.

Website: www.juangomez.org
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juanmgomezvisual/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JuanMGomezjr
Other: Email:juanmanuelgomez27@yahoo.com http://artslb.org/artists/juan-m-gomez/ http://artistcooplb.com/index.html

Image Credits
4 Photos from Lupita Gomez-Lamas, the rest provided by the artist.

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