Torn Between the Arts

Latin jazz legend Pete Escovedo showcases his art in first LA exhibit

By Petra E. Davidson
Published on LatinoLA: October 9, 2003

Torn Between the Arts

Everybody knows Pete Escovedo the musician, but few may know that he?s also a painter. However, if you own a few of Escovedo?s numerous CDs, you might want to go back and take a look at the covers and find that you actually own one or two samples of his art: both "Flying South" and "E Street" showcase not only the artist?s music but two of his own paintings were used as covers for those CDs.

Now, after half a century of devoting himself to music, the multi-talented artist is finally ready to take the step to seriously pursue his second passion with an art exhibit held October 10 through 12 at Constellation Salon and Art Gallery Studios in North Hollywood. The exhibit is open to the public and on Friday, October 10th, Escovedo will personally be there for the artist reception and signing, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Giving autographs will be Escovedo?s smallest challenge that day as he awaits the outcome of his first exhibition in the Los Angeles area. ?I?m anxious if critics will come or people who are into art, what they?re gonna say about my work,? the artist admits. ?I know they?re probably gonna say it?s a real crude way of painting, because I didn?t finish the schooling of it. Had I went to college, maybe I would have learned the real process, because sometimes my stuff is backwards.?

Backwards or not, the brightly colored mural-style paintings of Escovedo are definitely worth viewing and even for those who may not be able to afford an original Escovedo in their living room, there are still the re-prints of his works on a number of items available for purchase. Jewelry boxes, smaller prints or tile coasters are just as colorful and beautiful as the originals.

Hopefully Escovedo?s concerns will prove unfounded as he already did one exhibit of his work some 25 years ago in the Bay Area. ?I had about 50 pieces that I had accumulated over the years,? he remembers, ?so I did have one art show there in the Bay Area and I sold just about everything, which was really nice.?

Since then, with his music getting more and more successful, less time to paint made him protective of these reflections of his Latino spirit and he hasn?t parted with any of his work since. But times change, and when Escovedo learned that nowadays his paintings can be duplicated and printed onto various items, he feels a little more at ease about letting go of some of his work.

Bright colors and Indian faces dominate Escovedo?s art which he compares to a little bit of Van Gogh, a touch of Diego Rivera and even a tinge of Pablo Picasso. While they may remind of any one of these great artists, though, one thing stands out in all of them: the friendly, thoughtful personality of a legendary artist who has already given the world so much through his music. Now he?s adding a coat of paint to his legacy that likely won?t leave anyone untouched.

After the 3-day public exhibit, Constellation Salon and Art Gallery will continue showing the art throughout October by appointment. Where it goes from there, nobody knows. Escovedo?s recently released live CD simply titled ?Live? is as great a contribution to the Latin jazz world as any of Escovedo?s previous work, but at 68 years of age, Escovedo does consider the possibility of retiring from the stress of the music business and devoting more of his time to painting.

Whichever passion he chooses to pursue more prominently, he will continue to leave a mark with his outstanding contributions to Latino art.

For a sneak preview of Escovedo's art, visit the Constellation web site at:

The opening hours for the public exhibition are:
October 10: 6 - 11 p.m. (artist reception and signing)
October 11: 6 - 11 p.m.
October 12: 2 - 7 p.m.

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