Ozzie Juarez: Making a Mark on Los Angeles

Los Angeles visual artist Ozzie Juarez explores the realm of painting and sculpture while actively working to be a resource for his artistic and cultural community.
photo of artist Ozzie Juarez by Castro Frank

Los Angeles visual artist Ozzie Juarez explores the realm of painting and sculpture while actively working to be a resource for his artistic and cultural community.

Los Angeles is internationally renowned as a metropolis with a booming art scene. High-end galleries, big-name art fairs, and museums highlighting art throughout the ages. However, behind the commercialized art scene the world witnesses, is a community of artists fighting to preserve an authentic Los Angeles.

Amongst these artists is Ozzie Juarez. Juarez formulates his own visual language to explore reimagined histories of past civilizations and their speculative futures. He achieves this through his works that intermingle symbolism of pre-Columbian cultures with the popular culture of today. Through paints, ceramics, and concrete that are met with earthen materials like gravel, his paintings and sculptures come to life. 

Juarez took the time to connect with Tainted Magazine to discuss his distinct style, creative process, and the important work he has been conducting with the Los Angeles artistic community.

 Juarez’s Excavation of the “Sacred Bones”

Juarez’s work has an extraordinary ability to transcend cultural boundaries while still possessing deep-rooted symbolisms that connect to his own identity and community. His works possess a visual engagement through color, design, and texture that is cherished amongst his community members, peers, and members of the art world. Juarez explored his thoughts on the creative process with us at Tainted Magazine in order for us to understand how he produces his signature dynamic works.

Ozzie Juarez artwork sacred bones
ozzie juarez sacred bones castro frank 1

TM: To begin, let’s talk about process. How do you form an idea for a work of art and how do you evolve into the final piece?

OJ: Intensive research is always made before even thinking of making a mark on a surface. I carefully and thoroughly investigate and deconstruct the visual language I am connected with. Preliminary sketches and compositions are developed for each work of art I produce. However, there is an element of spontaneity that comes in while physically creating the work.

I am interested in the development and correlation between the traditional mark making in the Mexica and Mayan culture and the mark making created in contemporary painting.

TM: How do you enter your creative mindset to begin a new piece or series of works?

OJ: I navigate my life through creative thinking, I am constantly exercising my creative mind in every aspect of my life. I observe with passion and I create with dedication. My ideas and concepts are limitless, all I need to do is get to work.

TM: When viewing your catalog of work there seems to be some underlying Pop Art and Pop Culture influences. Can you explain what drew you to this style and what importance it has on the development of your work?

OJ: Pop Culture is an intimate language. There is a sense of belonging, a sense of connection when you physically seeing a cartoon character or a graphic that brings you back to your childhood memories. It is an unmentioned vernacular that we are familiar with and It puts a smile on my face when thinking about it. I am interested in the development and correlation between the traditional mark making in the Mexica and Mayan cultura and the mark making created by contemporary pop culture.

TM: Your work seems to toy with color and perspective; bright colors are depicted in flat two-dimensionality contrasted with highly textured and gestural blacks and grays. How does this balance come to life and how do you decide which approach to take?

OJ: The balance between perspective, color, textures, tones, and two-dimensional images is determined by the contrast of its counterparts. It is the extreme differences in textures, color, and form that makes my compositions come to life.

Ozzie Juarez artwork

Tlaloc Studios: A Refuge and a Resource

To Juarez, his art is more than his paintings, sculptures, and video pieces. In March 2021, Juarez opened Tlaloc Studios, a new artist studio and exhibition space for the Los Angeles community, which has become just as much a part of Juarez’s artistic practice. The 3,700 square foot space in South Central provides a fleeting resource for emerging artists, a space to create. Tlaloc becomes an artistic, exhibitionary, and professional resource for a thriving artistic ecosystem that Juarez wants to nurture.

Tlaloc Studios photo by Castro Frank
Photo by Castro Frank

TM: You recently launched a new project, an art space, Tlaloc Studios. How does this exciting new project relate to your work? What are your aspirations for this place now and moving forward?

OJ: Yes, for those who don’t know Tlaloc Studios is a brown owned art space and gallery in the south central area. We curate art shows and workshops for our Community. We also have 15 residences currently creating under Tlaloc Studios. With a diverse range of practices, we specialize in painting, sculpture, ceramics, drawing, photography, video, performance, screen printing, printmaking, sign painting, prop making, graphic design, and fashion design. Tlaloc Studios can be seen as an extension of my art practice, but also an extension of our community. Tlaloc Studios was built by the people and for the people.

Without our community who can we share the work with? I’m extremely thankful for the creative people that surround me, it truly keeps me in motion.  Witnessing the amount of art and love that goes through the doors of Tlaloc, reassures me that we are doing things right. We open our doors for anyone trying to express themselves creatively. My aspiration for Tlaloc Studios is to start our own Art school for the South Central community. We will have a diverse staff to teach all forms of art practice. We have been deprived of resources way too long, things are going to change. The potential in our hood is limitless, and the people who have been deprived are scared. All we need to do is stand on the shoulders of giants. We will make that happen.

artwork of Ozzie Juarez
Art of Ozzie Juarez

The Accessibility of Art Today

TM: Lastly, what is next for Ozzie Juarez? A new iteration of a series, a new body of work, explorations in new mediums, etc.?

OJ: Genuinely, I am concerned that my art isn’t completely accessible to my community. My paintings can reach a very high price. A price that my Community cannot afford. I can’t even afford my own paintings. So I will be focusing on public artworks for the city of Los Angeles. I want my art to be viewed and enjoyed by my Community, not just an art collector.

Ozzie Juarez sacred bones art
Photo by Castro Frank

As Juarez prepares for the next chapters in his artistic journey, he proves that his commitment to art stretches beyond his own career as an artist. It is a commitment to fostering a greater, thriving artistic community in Los Angeles. 

Ozzie Juarez in studio photo by Castro Frank
Photo by Castro Frank
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