‘Richard Duardo: Maestro of Pop’ at the McNay features LA artist’s iconic imagery
BY STEVE BENNETT STAFF WRITER
Richard Duardo was a master printer known as the “West Coast Warhol” An exhibition of his vibrant, colorful prints is on view at the McNay Art Museum.
“A Clockwork Orange” was another of Durado’s nods to icons.
Los Angeles artist Richard Duardo paid homage to his idols in his screenprints including Frida Kahlo
With a degree from the University of Texas at Austin burning a hole in his pocket, Ricardo Romo went west in the late ’60s to take a teaching post at Franklin High School in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, near Dodger Stadium.
One of his students was Richard Duardo.
“He was an amazing individual,” Romo, who is now president of the University of Texas at San Antonio, said recently. “He was one of the few students who really embraced my mentorship. I went to his home and met his family. It was touching that somebody cared for the new teacher.”
Duardo, who died in November at age 62 of complications from diabetes, would become (through his work at legendary L.A. studios such as Self-Help Graphics, Centro de Arte Público and finally Modern Multiples) one of the most influential figures in Latino art.
A master printer who worked with more than 400 artists, including David Hockney, Keith Haring and Shepard Fairey, Duardo also was a respected artist in his own right, known as the “West Coast Warhol.”
“Richard Duardo: Maestro of Pop,” which just opened at the McNay Art Museum, features 19 of Duardo’s large-scale, vibrantly colored master prints of cultural icons ranging from Pablo Picasso to Raquel Welch. All were donated to the McNay by Romo and his wife Harriett, a professor in the sociology department at UTSA.
“For this show we focused on Richard’s iconic imagery — of fellow artists, musicians, actors and celebrities,” said Lyle Williams, McNay curator of prints and drawings.
The exhibition features bold screenprints — embellished with Duardo’s expressive pastel markmaking — of icons such as Marlon Brando, Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, Billie Holiday, Frida Kahlo — even Miley Cyrus, in her underwear with a dartboard on her chest.
“It’s not my favorite piece in the show,” Williams said, “but I felt we had to include it because it says a lot about Richard’s personality and character. He loved to keep up with the latest in music and popular culture.”
Many of Duardo’s works — his images of Marilyn Monroe, for instance — obviously owe a debt to Warhol, and to Pop Art in general — hence the tag “West Coast Warhol.” But Warhol didn’t define him, Williams said.
“It was a nickname he was ambivalent about, I think,” Williams said. “I don’t think he was trying to emulate Andy Warhol, but they did share certain interests, in celebrity, for example. But Richard also had a great love for music and film, and he liked to pay homage to his artistic heroes. I think he was just trying to do his own thing.”
Gregarious and outspoken, Duardo “always had several pots on the stove,” Williams said.
“He lived hard, died young,” Romo said. “But he accomplished so much.”
When he died last year, comedian and art collector Cheech Marin told the Los Angeles Times: “An artist could have no better friend than Richard. Richard had a fantastic eye. He would find artists in his travels, and he knew how to promote them. For me, he was a guide and mentor.”
Ditto for Romo.
“Los Angeles was the place where Harriett and I fell in love with art, and Richard was our great connection,” said Romo, who rekindled his friendship with Duardo in the ’80s. “He would invite us to the studio and show us the process and introduce us to other artists. Then we would go out to dinner and talk about art for three hours. It was very exciting. The roles were reversed. He became my teacher.”
Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic Obama “Hope” image, blogged last year after Duardo’s death that his friend and colleague was a mentor as well.
“Richard was enthusiastic about my work,” Fairey wrote, “and encouraged me to step up the scale and sophistication of my prints with his help. In many ways, I owe the evolution of my fine art print work to Richard’s craft and willingness to share his years of printing knowledge and range of techniques. Something I learned quickly about Richard was that he loved people and was constantly fostering artist’s relationships with each other, museums, collectors, activists and charities. If there was an art event or a progressive gathering going on, Richard was likely to be there. He was a very important part of the LA art ecosystem and deserves a major tribute.”
“Richard Duardo: Maestro of Pop” is certainly a tribute to the artist. When Romo previewed the show, he was shaken.
“It was very emotional for me,” Romo said, a tremor in his voice. “To see all his work in one room … I could feel Richard’s presence. We all miss him, but he lives on in his art.”
“An artist could have no better friend than Richard Duardo”, said comedian and actor Cheech Marin. Richard was a force in the art community in L.A. and in San Antonio when he was here. He spotted talent, especially talent that wasn’t wholly developed yet.– Lyle Williams
As a master printer, the Boyle Heights-born Duardo, who died last year, produced work for more than 450 artists throughout his career, including Keith Haring, David Hockney, Shepard Fairey and Banksy, and he made prints based on paintings in Marin’s personal collection. He was also a champion for lesser-known, emerging artists, particularly in the Chicano community — at his last printing workshop, Los Angeles’ Modern Multiples, he would regularly take young talents under his wing.
As an artist in his own right, Duardo was nearly as prolific. He created brightly colored, silk-screen portraits of arts and pop culture icons, including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Che Guevara and Lauren Bacall, among many others. The boldly drawn works, saturated in tangerine, aqua and hot pink hues — many of them in series — earned him the nickname “The West Coast Warhol.”
A new exhibition at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, “Richard Duardo: Maestro of Pop,” showcases about 20 of Duardo’s large-scale screen prints, including portraits of Elvis Presley, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Warhol himself. The bold and poppy works are divided into artist, musician and actor-celebrity portraits — some of them are upward of 6 feet tall, such as his towering prints of Raquel Welch and Miley Cyrus.
“When he told me he was doing a portrait of Miley Cyrus, I said, ‘Why?!’ Because I hadn’t felt she’d reached the success of the others,” says Lyle Williams, who organized the McNay show. “But it was indicative of Richard’s personality — he always wanted to keep up with the latest and greatest in contemporary art and what young people were listening to.”
Originally, “Maestro of Pop” was intended to be a much smaller exhibition, but after Duardo’s death in November at 62, Williams expanded it.
“I thought it was important to make it a memorial,” Williams says. “Richard was a force in the art community in L.A. and in San Antonio when he was here. He spotted talent, especially talent that wasn’t wholly developed yet. And he worked with so many important contemporary artists — it was that printing background that separated him from Warhol, that technical ability. He was able to teach that to others and that was really his great contribution.”
Richard has manifested his dream of a museum solo show! “Duardo: Maestro of Pop,” McNay Museum in San Antonio, Texas.
Opening on July 1, 2015 and on view through September 6, 2015
This special exhibition of selected prints has been in the works for the past two years. Richard was really looking forward to this first-time solo show, and thrilled to have his artwork recognized by a museum.
The Journey from India to Los Angeles: The crew from “Broken Fingaz” the GRAFFITI GYPSIES FROM HAIFA stepped off the plane from from India, and walked into Modern Multiples with sketchbooks full of inspirations to be printed for USA break out show, “Journey Galactiko.” on:
Saturday June 20, 2015 at 7 p.m.
at Howard Griffin Gallery
410 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles.
We are psyched to have them and Howard Griffin Gallery in studio and looking forward to the opening.
Becca’s three new editions are released, on view and available for purchase beginning Thursday June 11, 2015 from 12 noon-12 midnight at Ren Gallery during the DTLA Artwalk.
Also available for purchase for the discerning collector are two mural paste-ups created by becca and Phillip Lumbang. These wooden panels were recently extracted from the Modern Multiples Main Street Studio. The 4’ x 8’ panels are naturally distressed, preserved and ready to hang on interior or exterior walls.
Modern Multiples has dedicated itself over the decades to building relationships with Artist and producing high quality works of art in the screen-printing and digital printing world.
The staff are hard at work in the studio, satisfying clients with friendly service and knowledgeable information.
As always, we go the extra mile making your time with us an extension of your creative talents.
Please give us a call on your next print project.
Coming to our web-store next week! becca’s threenew limited Editions that are Hand Painted Multiples (HPM), published by Modern Multiples.
In the meantime, enjoy this short video of becca creating wolfie.
Art, Music & “A Tribute To Richard Duardo”
Saturday, June 6, 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM
And Sunday, June 7, 12 Noon-6:00 PM
234 Museum Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90065
Opening Tribute, Poetry, and Printmaking Event: Saturday, June 6, 1 pm A tribute to Richard Duardo includes special guests, readings of winning poetry, and a printmaking activity for all ages. The art exhibit and printmaking will be open from 10 – 4, with the tribute and poetry reading beginning at 1 pm.
After graduating from UCLA, Richard Duardo returned to his Northeast L. A. roots because he clearly saw a need, a place where he could make a difference as an artist. He became a printmaker, a social and political activist, and always a great supporter of artists. This show seeks work that examines the social, artistic, and political influences that affect our local artists. “Back to the Roots” reflects and embraces our neighborhoods, our families, our cultures, our politics.