Carlos Flores’ “Discretions” artwork gives new meaning to the phrase “At your discretion.” The personal and liberating exhibit opened Nov. 11 at the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center and will continue until Dec. 16.
“Discretions” is about self-expression, discernment and freedom of choice.
Flores’ works are mostly portraits of people, done in solid, muted colors with neutral grey backgrounds.
Each piece is eye-catching, simple and colorful, with an underlying theme of complex familial issues.
Cybele Garcia, curator and coordinator for the Downtown Center since 2004, said it was his depiction of people and family that first caught her eye.
“I met Carlos a year and a half ago because I saw one of his pieces,” Garcia said. “It was beautiful; I just had to know who painted it.”
Garcia was grateful Flores’ work was appreciated, crediting its appeal to his skill and content.
“His technique is beautiful, and not just the technical aspects, but the topics,” she said. “The people in his paintings are minorities, I see myself and my family; I see real people.”
It is easy to see, from one glance at Flores’ works, that these pieces are full of life. Energy, movement and intimacy flow across each panel.
Flores himself is full of life. With an easy step, a ready smile and a calm happiness that nods toward artistic satisfaction, Flores cuts quite a figure, which was made even more impressive by his black dress pants, coat and white button up shirt.
A self-proclaimed drifter, Flores winked as he spoke about his life, attributing experience and relationships as his muses for art.
“People always inspire me,” Flores said. “Even my kids, like my son. It’s those special moments in life, private and public. It’s these relationships among people that are so expressive.”
Flores credits his growing popularity to the winds of fate.
“This is the beginning of my journey, people like my work,” he said. “I don’t know whether to call it luck but I’ve been selected for a few big shows. I’m so glad the acceptance of my art has been good.”
Attendance at the exhibit varied to every degree.
Everyone was captivated instantly by a portrait or painting, something catching his or her attention like the gleam of a jewel.
Quietly milling about, dressed in formal blacks, reds, whites or pinstripes, each visitor found something to appreciate in every work.
Visitors Nika Banzuela and Michael Murrillo were two young students interested in Flores’ art and perspective.
“I like his medium, I’ve never seen anyone mix acrylic and charcoal,” said Banzuela, a sophomore at Nogales High School in La Puente.
Murrillo, a sophomore at the School of Arts in Pomona, found Flores’ art unique and expressive.
“This type of stuff is really cool, it’s very different,” Murrillo said. “It’s not my style but I can appreciate such detailed work, the story behind every piece.”
Each piece does in fact tell a story. Flores even has a few political works, one of which has a “viewer’s discretion” sign next to it.”
The artwork has curtains hung in front of it and when they are peeled back, a portrait of George W. Bush a profanity emblazoned across it.
Along with this painting, there are a few other startling pieces.
Flores attributed his inspiration for these to the current state of social and political affairs.
“These are my views, some of the paintings are upside down because to me the world is upside down,” Flores said.
Throughout all his artwork – political or personal – Flores maintained a connection and appreciation for moments, big or small, that underlie every aspect of life.
“For me, life is like a puzzle, made out of images,” Flores said.
“If I see a sign, a person, or something else, I make a story out of it. I build these pieces and I put them together,” he added.
Lilia Cabello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.