About: Artists

Lalo Garcia is the artist for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the north Plaza wall of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. He also served as a member of the Arts and Furnishings Committee for the Cathedral. His unique talents, his love for native culture and his commitment to preserving the folklore of Mexico are reflected in his work.


Garcia was born into a poor family in La Cieneguita, a small rancho in the state of Michoacan, Mexico. He learned from an early age, he recalls, "the great love that our Blessed Mother has for her children." These lessons were demonstrated "through my mother's prayers and her annual 'mandas' (promises) made to Our Lady of Guadalupe."

The artist began to draw and paint in elementary school. His father came to work the fields in the United States during the Bracero program in 1949, but Garcia really got to know his dad in 1965 at the age of thirteen when he and his mother and brother joined him in the States. "My father thought it was a better country with more opportunities to succeed in life," he explains.

Garcia continued to draw, using the back of paper bags from the grocery store because he did not feel comfortable asking his dad to buy sketch books. In ninth grade the vice-principal noticed his drawing of a horse on the back of a paper bag and asked Garcia if he had learned sketching in art classes. When Garcia told him "no," the man changed two math classes for art classes.

Garcia has spent twenty-five years immersed in the world of art as design artist, production designer, state director and choreographer. "My years of experience with the art form of dance," he reflects, "have taught me to respect the greatness of our indigenous civilizations, while my knowledge of Christianity in the world at large strengthens my inner balance."

In 1978 Garcia founded the dance company El Grupo Folklórico "Fiesta Mexicana" in the city of San Fernando, California, continuing his love for traditional Aztec dance. As director and choreographer he has performed throughout the United States and Mexico, with 1988 highlighting his tour with Linda Ronstadt's "Canciones de mi Padre," as well as her 1989 tour of "Más Canciones."

In 1986 Garcia was discovered while performing Aztec dancing at a Los Angeles Archdiocese celebration and was referred to Martinez & Murphy, Inc. of Los Angeles, a liturgical arts and sacred environment company, where he worked from 1987-1995 as an the in-house artist and designer. He designed such special works as the vestments and miters of Pope John Paul II, as well as all three-hundred-fifty Roman Catholic bishops for the Pope's visit to Los Angeles.

Recent examples of Garcia's work can be seen at the Shrine of the Holy Redeemer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Featured work in California can be found at the Beatitudes of Our Lord, La Mirada, All Souls Catholic Church, Alhambra, Saint Bernardine of Siena, Woodland Hills, and Santa Rosa Catholic Church in San Fernando. He has designed fourteen Guadalupe images in the United States and Mexico. "I continue to celebrate my cultural heritage as I pay tribute to my religious beliefs," he explains.

Each painting in Garcia's personal art pieces contains the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Because his work deals with Mexican culture, traditions, festivities and rituals, "I feel if she is not in there, my painting is not complete."

Garcia's personal paintings have been exhibited at the Downey Museum of Art, the Pueblo Gallery on Olvera Street in Los Angeles, Arte Américas in Fresno, the Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, and the Galeria Posada in Sacramento. He has also been a featured artist for the Casa de la Cultura in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the Sacred Arts Festival, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Community Centers throughout the Southwest.

Garcia is aware of the spirituality of his work, that it will touch people's hearts and minds. "I am always very conscious that I must do the best work of art that I possibly can in the studio," he says, "because once it makes the journey onto a sacred space it is going to do more than what I have done in the studio." He feels himself "an instrument of God in his way of working. I take this very seriously, very deeply."

Garcia continues, "I feel as if history is repeating itself in the need to renew our faith and love of mankind. Even as Our Morenita saved the Mestizo, I believe that in this new millenium, Our Blessed Mother will again guide and unite all of her people throughout the world."


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