Museums and art galleries have been closed throughout the pandemic forcing artists to find new and inventive ways to reach audiences. For painter Francisco Palomares, it gave him an excuse to turn the classic Los Angeles fruit cart into a mobile art studio and gallery.
Francisco Palomares grew up in East L.A. surrounded by fruit carts.
"I was working a minimum wage job at a museum. On my way to work, I would see people selling fruit, and I thought to myself that it would be cool to post up and do paintings of fruit. And, if I sell five little paintings at 20 bucks, I make 100 bucks. That is what I was making a day as a gallery attendant," Palomares said.
Last summer, Palomares started setting up a fruit cart on Fridays and weekends.
"It was really slow. At first, many window shoppers thought my paintings were cool, but they thought I was selling fruit. I think the fact that I stayed consistent with coming out, I stayed on people's radar. Every time I go out, I get butterflies; I am playing a role as the artist vendor outside."
Palomares' art focuses on what Los Angeles means to him.
"My artist studio name would be Palomares Blvd; it is my own perspective. So it is like my street; when you cruise on to my street, you will see a Los Angeles painted back to you. There are like three different practices that I do. So, I do my studio work; it is large scale and takes a lot of time, then I have my Plein Air series where I take an easel and set it up in a location in Downtown L.A. and just paint. Then I have the cart, which is an accumulation of that."
Palomares said he is not sure if his cart would have been as successful as fast if it was before the pandemic.
"There are no museums or galleries, and they are barely starting to open. But during the time, there was no live art. All of a sudden, I have an outdoor gallery; people do not have to go to an indoor place to view. Some of the things I have painted have been hot dogs, flowers, fruit cups, melons, and mostly the things street vendors would sell. It is like a homage to my working community of Latinos, and using that same spirit of entrepreneurship and doing whatever you can to get yourself out there. I am doing that through art, and it is something authentic, and I feel like I am part of that ecosystem now."
You can find Francisco and his fresh fruit paintings every weekend in the downtown L.A. Arts District. Visit his Instagram @Palomaresblvd.
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