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An Encounter With History

Daniel T. Lopez


On February 26, 2016 I went to lunch at Pepe Mexican Restaurant, in Santa Rosa California to meet Judy and Davis Bullwinkle.  Judy was interested in seeing my art. I have two large murals at the restaurant so everyone thought it was a good venue for our luncheon.  Judy is a friend of my wife Sally and my sister-in-law Rosemary. Prior to the meeting Rosemary and told Judy a little about my art including the fact that I was a Combat War artist in the Vietnam War.

 Shortly after the perfunctory introductions Judy said the Rosemary had told her about my War Art experience in Vietnam.  Judy and Davis talked about their toured through Vietnam some years after the war.  They spoke about how much they enjoyed their toured and extensively about the activities.  They also including the fact that their tour guide had been a combat war artist for the North Vietnamese government.  They showed me a booklet of Bui Quang Anh art during his tour as a war artist.  At that point I felt that I was going through an epiphany.   I never thought that there were counter artists from the opposite side painting the war.  This event happened 47 years after my experience in Vietnam.  That day at a Mexican restaurant in Santa Rosa California I saw the artwork painted by an artist from the opposite side the war.  I came across a mirror showing my counter opposite.  I flipped through the pages and immediately realize that his art looked like the art that the combat war artist teams from the United States had painted, but from the opposite side.  A great circle hooped had closed and completed itself.


The Bullwinkle’s loaned me the booklet.  I browsed through the booklet and began to read. I saw that Bui Quang Anh thoughts and opinions where similar to mine.  “… I try to paint righteously, to convey bold visions of the present and the future. You have to go somewhere deep and dark to express the fierceness and the despair of human actions.“  This was our effort as artist trying to show the human struggle and its effects on the individual soldier during war times.


He follows with  “I am inspired by artist such as Siqueiros, Hocusai, Picasso. “ These artists have been inspirational to me also and I have been using them in my presentations on my Vietnam art series. Alfaro David Siqueiros had inspired me with his Echo of a Scream, which he painted in 1937.  Siqueiros had painted this work when the Japanese Imperial army bombed Shanghai, China. Siqueiros had loosely based his painting upon a news photograph of the carnage.  I was incredibly moved of see how Siqueiros captured the cruelty of war on the innocent. Another work, which greatly inspired me by Siqueiros, was “The Torture of Cuauhtémoc painted in 1951. This mural masterfully captures the Spanish cruelty of the Indigenous population of Mexico. Last Emperor of the Aztecs Cuauhtémoc was tortured as they tried to find the lost treasure of the Montezuma.


Probably Picasso's most famous work, Guernica is certainly his most powerful political statement, painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazi's devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during Spanish Civil War. Guernica has always been an inspiration to me because of my experience as a war artist.


Hokusai created the “Thirty-Six Views” It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print that secured Hokusai’s fame. His worked was recently shown on the local PPS stations.  Hokusai continues to inspire art around the world.


The name of the booklet is Ho Chi Minh Trail- Ho Chi Minh Campaign- Military Logistic

In my new series on the Time Space Continuum. I explore time, space, matter and energy. I see that since the Big Bang, things have not stopped. The whole universe is in constant change, and flow. As a Mayan Elder said, this is not my body I am momentarily borrowing it from my elders. In our short moment of existence we to often get caught in ego or chasing material goods. And it is only when a love one dies do we weep in great sadness and  realize the meaning of life. And it is only momentarily do we see the fragility of life. But this momentary  existence is our gift from nature to wake momentarily and be. This very fragile moment of life is also an eternal gift for each moment is eternal. 

It is through our imagination, our art and creativity that we can travel to distance gallexies and see in wonderment all that is or can be. 

I have been travelling via my imagination and art. In my new series I have been exploring the far reaching of the universe/maltiverse searching with immense excitement. It is fortunate for us, for me to try to touch the untouchable.  For the untouchable is consantly touching me/us. 

I think as the artist as a muse,  driven by muses and acting as contempory muse.  The Muses were nine goddesses who symbolized the arts and sciences. Today, a muse is a person who serves as an artist's inspiration. Joseph Campbel call 'art' the clothing of a revolation. The feeling I get when I tuely get inspired and want to create seems to come from some where beyond my self. Hearing that one voice in the myriad of echos. 

In “The Ever-Present Origin”, Jean Gebser addresses the idea that our origin is always here always present. In the Big Bang Theory there is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe. Prior to the moment of the Big Bang there was nothing and that after that moment there was something: our universe. That everything that has ever existed and still exists today is related to that moment. That is our origin and the origin of everything.  In painting of my self-portrait I tried to show this idea. I began to look at light and halos in paintings and auras in that pretext.  Not only are we all enlightened from the first light but we are also related to everything.



First Light

The Clothing of a Revelation


Joseph Campbell, once described art as ‘The Clothing of a Revelation’  I have always like that description. Art is not a Euclidian,  linear, mathematical, description of the world at least not to me. Art embraces an inner spiritual, mystical understanding of life. I am reminded of Dali’s Christ of St. John of the Cross. This painting evokes profound mystical qualities. There are no words or logic that can handle the experience. Art can also bring a profound understanding of the human condition as in ‘The Raft of the Medusa’ by Gericault, Although Gericault was referring to an actual event he captured the universal human struggle that we all go through. Even through he painted in a classical style the images resonates deep into everyone’s soul. 

Christ of St. John on the Cross


The Raft of Medusa by Théodore Géricault

Mural painting has been around for millennia it has been part of the human expression since the dawn of time. I enjoy creating murals, I especially like working with the public. It is a great tool for addressing cultural, political and environmental issues. The great part of mural painting for me is that is for general public consumption.

Mural painting is a great way to teach students about the art process.  You can analyze; color, line, contrast, harmony, and just about anything you would want the students to learn. You can use the themes to teach history, culture, science etc., etc.

 I really liked the ideas that, Alfrado David Siqueiros developed during his lifetime about mural creation. Siqueiros talked a lot about the Dynamic Spectator and about changing the perspective point along the axis movement of the spectator. Siqueiros also experimented with lots of different tools and materials. I have tried to incorporate Siqueiros ideas into my mural painting. I leaned a lot by studying Mexican muralist, besides the three greats Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco, there were many who preceded them and many who followed. I recommend studying mural history it is a good foundation for any one who wants to paint murals.  


The Latino murals, which sprang forward since the 1060s, have come a long way and have accomplished many wonderful projects. I can’t address that history here but I recommend further inquiry. With the world at your fingertips with the electronic media check out the world of mural painting. Mural painting is now a world phenomenon; one can get a bird eye’s view of the human condition by visiting mural artist from across the world.


Healdsburg Mural Project 1989, Healdsburg California 

Healdsburg High School, Healdsburg Califonia, 2015

Pepe's Mexican Retaurant, Santa Rosa, CA.

The New Decomcray- Alfrado David Siqueiros