George Yepes: Media

 

 

 

 

 

"It was a collaboration to the end. We saw the painting and agreed it would be a good place to shoot. The soft light made it easier for Sean to relax."

 

Photographer Jeffrey Higginbotham

 

Cover photograph of Sean Penn by Jeffrey Higginbotham

Painting: George Yepes

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION - THE CHICANO SCHOOL OF PAINTING
"The first time I stood in front of a Chicano painting -- it was George Yepes' Amor Matizado -- I had the same feeling as when I first heard a tune by the Beatles."

Cheech Marin, Actor
Chicano Visions - American Painters on the Verge

George Yepes’ “Coatlicue in Vienna”
 
I once called George Yepes the “Tintoretto of Los Angeles” for his epic murals of medical, erotic and religious compassion.  
“Coatlicue in Vienna” shows us that he has evolved, like the creatures in the painting, into the Cosmologist of the New World and the Genghis Khan of Chicano Art. 
 
Who else but George Yepes paints with exquisite energy and tantalizing vision the outlaw love that melds the crucified Christ onto the torso of the giant Aztec earth goddess, Lady of the Serpent Skirt? Dismembered hands floating to the cheeks of beautiful faces where blood morphs into the roses of Guadalupe-to bless the Kiss? Notice the sacred geography of this monumental scene. Decipher the sacred numbers 2, 4,5,6, 7 encoded in imagery, like an Aztec mystery, on this body map of our existence. Can you see them all? 
 
The dualities of native pagan female and colonizer Christian male, ferocious loving mother/daughter and bleeding son/savior, Mexica stone and Yepes colors, the gold of Vienna and the blue jades of Tenochtitlan, animal carnality and tender kisses, an ancient myth of eternity and a Chicano prophet-painter of the ephemeral.  
 
Gazing at George Yepes’ revelation “Coatlicue in Vienna” I witness again the cultural critic in him. 
F. Scott Fitzgerald, in the American canonical novel The Great Gatsby, crooned about America as
 
      “the fresh, green breast of the new world.”
 
   Yepes is retorting to this Yankee myth of purity as Klimt retorted to the conventional art of his time, saying
 
    “we come from and onto a passionate, fructifying body of many colors, strokes, stories, animals, tragedies, 
    lusts and loves and the creative agony of it all drives me to paint the Grito, the Cry ‘Here she is, Miss America.’”  
 
 
Dr. David Carrasco, Professor - History of Religions
Editor-in-Chief, Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures
Director, Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project
Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America
 
 
 
 
"But for those wary of celebrity endorsement, remember this: Even if the [Chicano Visions] exhibit is not a definitive collection of the genre, it presents works rarely seen in Texas, like those of L.A. Hotshot George Yepes.  That alone makes this show worth seeing".

Katy Vine, TEXAS MONTHLY
 

 

 

 

 

 

"When it comes to sheer touch that combines beautiful control over line and brushwork, yet seemingly spontaneous expression, George Yepes is among the best.  His darkly romantic excess can't help but make you think he would have been Dante Gabriel Rossetti's (1828 - 1882, London, England), equal among the Pre-Raphaelites.  But these saints and sinners are hardly a throwback. Yepes' painting has a visual density and suggestiveness that is as
tantalizing to the intellect as it is arresting for the eye".

ArtScene
The Guide to over 450 Los Angeles Art Galleries and Museums

Nobel Laureate Carlos Fuentes, and author of Terra Nostra, with original painting "The Lady of the Butterflies", portrait of Salma Hayek.
Nobel Laureate Carlos Fuentes, and author of Terra Nostra, with original painting "The Lady of the Butterflies", portrait of Salma Hayek.

 

 

 

In 2002, Actress Salma Hayek modeled for Yepes (twice), and became the vision of the "Lady of the Butterflies". Carlos Fuentes, one of Latin America's most prominent men of letters. The literary impetus for envisioning Salma Hayek's mosaic of beauty - 1000 faces of the goddess - is inspired by Fuentes' magnum opus, Terra Nostra - and his immaculate vision of the Lady of the Butterflies. Also in 2002, Miss Mexico, Suliana Gonzalez, Modeled for the "Calavera China Poblana vestida de Gala" painting for Yepes' 2003 Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas Exhibits.

Robert Rodriguez with George Yepes Signature Custom Double-Neck "Shotgun Messenger" Gibson guitar.
Robert Rodriguez with George Yepes Signature Custom Double-Neck "Shotgun Messenger" Gibson guitar.

 

 

 

In 2005 San Antonio, Texas - George Yepes began working with, Nashville based, Gibson Musical Instruments Latin Entertainment Division and The Epiphone Company, on a new series of 'Yepes Signature' Custom Guitars: Hand-Carved, Hand-Painted, with M. Swift & Sons Inc. pure 24 karat Gold leaf, Silver leaf, and copper leaf on Gibson/Epiphone Factory wood. Smooth bodied; meticulously painted; the surfaces glow with the gilded tones that adorn and possess them. 
To date, he has created 20 one-of-a-kind custom guitars. Next musical artworks... 2 Baby Grand pianos.

George Yepes & Robert Rodriguez with the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center sponsors, Ford Mercury, of the "Solamente Salma" exhibit.
George Yepes & Robert Rodriguez with the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center sponsors, Ford Mercury, of the "Solamente Salma" exhibit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2006 San Antonio – Austin – Los Angeles: George Yepes began the year with studios in San Antonio and Los Angeles. And now, in Austin, with movie Director, Robert Rodriguez. 



Marley Shelton and George Yepes at the Grind House "Planet Terror" & "Death Proof" Cast & Crew Wrap Party, at Sixth Street Lounge, Austin, Texas.
Marley Shelton and George Yepes at the Grind House "Planet Terror" & "Death Proof" Cast & Crew Wrap Party, at Sixth Street Lounge, Austin, Texas.

 

Marley tells about painting that the artist George Yepes did of her. Yepes is a portrait artist whom Robert Rodriguez took under his wing. he moved to Texas and painted some portraits of the characters in the movie. Then he asked if he could just do one of her as Marley.

“It’s so dark, edgy, and delicious. It’s sexy, weird, frenetic, rich. That is me, “She says, as if curiously observing a part of herself she doesn’t really own. “At the opening, there was this guy who came up to me. He was really arrogant. he said, I’m looking at you and I’m looking at the painting and I’m not getting it.” He saw blonde, California.”

 

Marley Shelton

Flaunt Magazine

In 2004 San Antonio, Texas – George Yepes, offered 30,000 sq. ft. of free studio space; and 168 artists followed the call and inaugurated The Art Dacha Open Studio movement on First Fridays at the Big Tex Grain Mills and The Blue Star Arts Complex - the Home of Contemporary Art in San Antonio.

"There is a cultural renaissance occurring here, and George Yepes is making it happen by bringing his art. San Antonio is quickly becoming the headquarters of all that is Chicano -- more so than L.A."

Gregg Barrios, Book Editor, San Antonio Express News
San Antonio, Texas


Councilman Richard Alatorre, George Yepes, and Willie Brown, Speaker of the House, State Assembly, at The Biltmore Hotel Awards Ceremony.
Councilman Richard Alatorre, George Yepes, and Willie Brown, Speaker of the House, State Assembly, at The Biltmore Hotel Awards Ceremony.

 

 

 

L.A. Weekly - Best Indescribable Wall Art
"...George Yepes, Muralist and Painter...Yepes is Los Angeles' greatest living Baroque artist."

Marc B. Haefele, Writer - L.A. Weekly
Los Angeles, California

Professor, David Carrasco lecturing on the Artwork of George Yepes, "Re-Imagination of the Sacred", at Harvard University.
Professor, David Carrasco lecturing on the Artwork of George Yepes, "Re-Imagination of the Sacred", at Harvard University.

 

 

"Like Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti, 1518-94), George Yepes has the ability to pull down from heaven the designs which God has for humans and paint them so people can discover through the paintings what they are deaf to in words."

Dr. David Carrasco, Historian of Religions
Neil Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America
Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures
Harvard University

 
Cesar Chavez and George Yepes at United Farmworkers Cesar Chavez Birthday Dinner.
Cesar Chavez and George Yepes at United Farmworkers Cesar Chavez Birthday Dinner.

 

"George Yepes dramatizes with iconoclastic vigor the nature of radical art: he sends you back to your roots. But more than a voyage back to the land of your ancestors and to the soil that (allegedly) nurtured the soul of your people (you know the story), the roots that you go back to through the medium of George Yepes' work are your own: the roots under the ground on which you stand, all that is buried under you and, for that same reason, you can't remember. This is George Yepes' insight, encoded in his artwork in the form of acrylic riddles."

Dr. Roberto Cantu, Professor of English, Spanish, and Chicano Studies
California State University, Los Angeles

Apollonia in the George Yepes studio, during a L.A. Times photo shoot, for the movie, 'Black Magic Woman'.
Apollonia in the George Yepes studio, during a L.A. Times photo shoot, for the movie, 'Black Magic Woman'.

 

 

 

 

 

Apollonia Kotero’s latest film, Black Magic Woman, “utilizes paintings by local artist George Yepes, right. In the film, Appollonia plays a woman hounded by an art gallery owner (Mark Hamill).

David Morin, Faculty Chair - Math Department, George Yepes and Omero Suarez, President of East Los Angeles College, at the Vincent Price Gallery Reception for the George Yepes Exhibit "Coming Home Again".
David Morin, Faculty Chair - Math Department, George Yepes and Omero Suarez, President of East Los Angeles College, at the Vincent Price Gallery Reception for the George Yepes Exhibit "Coming Home Again".

 

 

The Vincent Price Art Gallery Foundation

 

"George Yepes: Los Angeles is a city suddenly in full bloom as a world art center. in the center of all this are the whirling forces of our brilliant ethnic artists. George Yepes shines among them with the vitality worthy of a star force in the arts of our time". 

 

Vincent Price, Actor & Art Collector

George Yepes and Luis De La Corte during the filming of 'Fama y Fortuna'.
George Yepes and Luis De La Corte during the filming of 'Fama y Fortuna'.

 

 

 

 

Eastside bred artist George Yepes, right, is captured with Luis De La Corte, host of the International Television Show ‘Fama y Fortuna’.  Which in spanish rivals television’s ‘Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous.’

Walter Ulloa with "Soy Ilegal" by George Yepes.
Walter Ulloa with "Soy Ilegal" by George Yepes.

 

 

 

 

Entravision CEO Walter Ulloa in front of a painting of a Mexican subject by George Yepes. "I connect emotionally to Latino art," the media mogul says. 

USA Today 2008

Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino with George Yepes' 10 foot Gibson guitar, for Austin GuitarTown.
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino with George Yepes' 10 foot Gibson guitar, for Austin GuitarTown.

 

 

“George Yepes is the rarest of talents. I own several of his paintings, and whenever someone walks in and sees them for the first time, I have to stand close so I can catch their jaws before they slam into the ground. George’s work grabs you by the lapels and makes you feel as if you’re discovering art for the first time. He’s a master painter in the best sense, the art comes through him, not from him. That is rare.”

 

Robert Rodriguez

Gibson Magazine

 

In 2003 San Antonio, Texas - George Yepes completed four more commissioned paintings for Director Robert Rodriguez' "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" movie. Two paintings are featured in the movie, and another set of paintings of Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, and Johnny Depp...were included in the Music DVD of the El Mariachi Trilogy, “Mexico and Mariachis”.

Robert Rodriguez, Director
Austin, Texas

George Yepes with Courtney Reid, the Model for 'The Angel of Los Angeles', at The Music Center, Los Angeles, CA.
George Yepes with Courtney Reid, the Model for 'The Angel of Los Angeles', at The Music Center, Los Angeles, CA.

 

 

 

 

 

"Painting is the least of George Yepes' talents..."

Courtney Reid, Painter
Hollywood, California

Portrait of Wendi Kimura, Arts Editor - San Antonio Current, and George Yepes Model.
Portrait of Wendi Kimura, Arts Editor - San Antonio Current, and George Yepes Model.

 

"The Best of San Antonio" 

 

Best Art: Artist we'd like to send back to Los Angeles.

 

Readers' Choice & Staff pick:

"George Yepes, the City of San Antonio has spoken: You have been voted out of town. Cheech's "Chicano Now" exhibit brought a lot of talented local artists to light, but it also drew one out-of-towner from the depths of East L.A. to San Antonio's Southtown.

 

California Dreamin': SA readers dream of sending George Yepes back to L.A.".


Wendi Kimura, Arts Editor - San Antonio Current
San Antonio, Texas

 

 

"The Lady doth protest too much, methinks."

William Shakespeare, "Hamlet" 1599.

 

 

 

"Little Wing" Portrait of Maria Kane  ©G.Yepes
"Little Wing" Portrait of Maria Kane ©G.Yepes

“One word to describe George Yepes : ‘Monster’. The Monster will be missed in San Antonio, especially by the ones who hate him. What else are they going to do on Saturday nights with their pitchforks and torches? George Yepes is too overqualified to work in San Antonio. That is why he is a national treasure and Los Angeles wants him back. San Antonio will never see another bad-ass-(expletive)-painter again in their lifetime.” 

 

Maria Kane 

Painter and Yepes Model at the Blue Star Arts Complex

 

San Antonio Express News 

San Antonio, TX

'La Virgen Dolorosa' at Our Lady of Soledad Church in East Los Angeles, California  USA
'La Virgen Dolorosa' at Our Lady of Soledad Church in East Los Angeles, California USA

 

 

 

 

"Yepes was a child when he first encountered his muse in the form of a statue of 'La Virgen Dolorosa' at the Catholic church his family attended in East Los Angeles.  Carved out of wood, the Madonna with a heart skewered by daggers looked exquisitely lovely in her anguish to the 4-year-old boy kneeling before her."

Elda Silva, Staff Writer
San Antonio Express News
San Antonio, Texas

Axis Bold as Love
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

"On the opposing side of the spectrum, however, sits the serenely beautiful portraits of George Yepes. Yepes' "Axis Bold as Love," reminiscent of Gustav Klimt's "Dane," is a prime example of his art nouveau-inspired strokes and brilliant color in his delicately sensuous portrayals of women, a popular theme in Nouveau."

Sarah Wilkins, Senior Staff Writer

 
'Axis Bold as Love' Portrait of Courtney Reid, "Chicano Visions" Cheech Marin Collection.
'Axis Bold as Love' Portrait of Courtney Reid, "Chicano Visions" Cheech Marin Collection.

 

 

 

 

'Axis Bold as Love' is a major addition to Yepes' cult of the Madonna.  This is Yepes' re-imagination of the sacred at its best, for which he is studied by scholars.  Yepes describes this as a portrait of his 'Axis Mundi' - Courtney Reid - the Center of the Cosmos. Named after the Jimi Hendrix song to which Yepes painted this piece, the image is derived from Yepes' earliest impression of the beauty, Our Lady of Soledad de East Los Angeles.  La Soledad is the Madonna after the burial of Christ.  She is alone, in nature (the wild), in a storm (from within) of agony and ecstasy, before the Resurrection (in the threshold). Having come full circle, (from the nature goddess - to the idolatry of church - to the woman) this Madonna calls to mind the naturalistic Madonnas by Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519 and Sandro Botticelli 1415-1510: close, human, mortal, yet divine.
 

Lolo Guerrero, King of Pachuco Boogie
Lolo Guerrero, King of Pachuco Boogie
Hugo Quintana, Editor, La Opinion
Hugo Quintana, Editor, La Opinion

In 1993-94 George Yepes was partnered with Ricardo Legoreta, the Mexican Architect, as the duo "Lead Urban Design Team" for the $1 Billion Eastern Extension of the Metro Red Line of Los Angeles Subway, in charge of designing seven Metro stations and tunnels. He was chosen for his ability to impact structure during preliminary engineering - prior to final architectural design.



In 1998 the State of California chose George Yepes to paint the 70' vaulted ceiling of the State Archives Museum in Sacramento, the State Capital. This mural, "The Promise", depicts the emergence of California's Statehood incorporating elements from Aztec to Greco-Roman mythology.

In 2001 George was called to Illinois and left behind his mark on the city, a 24'x70' mural in Chicago. In Dec. 2001 the Chicano Visions/ American Painters on the Verge exhibit spearheaded by Cheech Marin, began a fifteen city tour with plans in the making to travel to Europe and Japan. The exhibit museums: The San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas; The Smithsonian in Washington DC.; the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the El Paso Museum of Art in Texas; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA; the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MI; The Mexican Fine Arts Museum, Chicago, IL; the University of Houston, Houston, Texas; Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis, MO; The de Young Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, CA; Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA. Cheech Marin owns eight George Yepes paintings as part of his permanent art collection, two of which are included in the Chicano Visions Exhibit; Yepes' iconographic image, 'La Pistola y El Corazon', and the exquisite, "Axis Bold as Love."

George Yepes and Edward James Olmos at the 'Treasures of Los Angeles' Dinner at the Bonaventure Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles.
George Yepes and Edward James Olmos at the 'Treasures of Los Angeles' Dinner at the Bonaventure Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles.
George Yepes with Charlton Heston, and Mayor Tom Bradley, at the unveiling of "The Angel of Hope" at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
George Yepes with Charlton Heston, and Mayor Tom Bradley, at the unveiling of "The Angel of Hope" at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Robert Rodriguez has long been known for having certain eccentricities, the least of which being his habit of never appearing in public without something on his head. There also is the matter of his self containment. He makes movies deep in the heart of Texas using his own private studios and handling most of the behind-the-camera chores himself — from writing and directing to scoring and editing to doing his own camera work and devising digital special effects.

 

When Grindhouse came out last spring, cast members spoke of the way Rodriguez would do rough edits on his laptop while waiting for his crew to set up the next shot for Planet Terror, his half of the gimmicky ode to schlocky horror films that Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino made together.

 

When he wasn't doing that, he was playing his guitar, which is rarely far from his side, though Rose McGowan says the guitar-playing wasn't the sign of laid-back cool other cast members thought it was: He played it to relax when he got frustrated on the set, she says. (McGowan should know, seeing as how she and Rodriguez became particularly close during the production. When the then-married Rodriguez wasn't editing or making music between shooting scenes, he often would enjoy long private "lunches" with McGowan in his trailer, reportedly. Playing guitar apparently wasn't enough of a stress reliever).

 

What no one in the cast mentioned until now was the unusual after-hours routine he led cast members in.

 

"We were filming 14-15 hours a day, then we'd go on and paint for another two or three hours,'' says Josh Brolin, who played a demented doctor in the film, "then we'd go eat, then we'd (paint) again."

 

His response: "Er, come again?"

 

"We did these great paintings of our own characters," Brolin explained.

 

George Yepes, a painter and a friend of Rodriguez, took photographs of the actors' faces, Brolin says. "He would outline the paintings. We would come in and do the fill-ins. Then (Yepes and Rodriguez) would do one layer. Then we'd come in and do another layer after it dried. Then Robert would do another layer and some of his own stuff. Then George would come in and do some of his own stuff. They gave us those paintings as wrap gifts.'"

 

At least, theoretically they received the paintings as wrap gifts.

 

"I haven't gotten mine yet, even though he gave it to me,'" Brolin says. "I just wrote to him... and I was like, `Where the (expletive) is my painting?' And he goes, `I like your painting too much. I'll give it to you, but I'm having a tough time letting it go.'

 

"It's a great painting," Brolin continues, exuding no small trace of pride. "It's a really good painting."

Naveen Andrews, who plays former Iraqi soldier/torturer Sayid on ABC's insanely huge hit "Lost", has joined the cast of Robert Rodriguez' and Quentin Tarantino's two-part old school horror compilation Grindhouse. More specifically, he'll be joining the cast of Rodriguez' zombie flick PLANET TERROR as "a badass military scientist", starring alongside Freddy Rodriguez, Rose McGowan, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Michael Biehn, Stacy Ferguson, Jeff Fahey and Michael Parks. Last month, an abrupt halt in PLANET TERROR's production sparked speculation over whether an increasing budget and falling behind schedule had forced production to shut down. However, it was revealed that Rodriguez was neither over-budget nor behind schedule but merely stopped production to prepare for an art exhibition he created with Mexican muralist George Yepes.

 

 

 

“It was actually George’s idea to use Salma because he had done a couple of paintings of her for my movies and he thought that would be a good connection since I’ve worked with her five or six times already, and the fact that we’re painting together, we might as well use her as our image and I was way into that because she is sort of an iconic image of a Mexican woman and a strong independent successful professional and many things all at once and an artist in her own right. Because of that iconic nature, and her face being a perfect specimen for painting — the lines of her face of her own could generate so much excitement in many different styles in many different lights — that it just seemed like such a natural. He came up with the idea that it would be ‘Solamente Salma.’”

 

Robert Rodriguez


George Yepes and Robert Rodriguez, creative giants each in his own rite, have combined their formidable force of talents and given life to new collaborative artworks. From Yepes' San Antonio & Los Angeles studios to Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios in Austin, these dueling freight trains have torn through the night, and blazed a meteoric trail while creating their dialogue in Art - and creating a new high water mark for collaborative excellence.

Like Vampires robbing liquorstores from dusk till dawn, George Yepes and Robert Rodriguez communicate with each other as they communicate with the world: with Two-Smokin' Barrels.