Lourdes Sanchez is a Cuban-born New York painter whose primary mediums are watercolor and ink, which she uses to explore compositions that are equal parts geometric and organic. She is interested in both embracing and transcending a history of prettiness in the watercolor tradition, and sees it as a metaphor for the desire to align with loveliness often sought by or imposed upon the feminine, while giving a glimpse of the complex subtext beneath.
However some of her work is simply an unbridled love affair with the natural world, and a fascination with the geometric and molecular structure which is the underpinning of organic life.
Her work is represented by the Sears Peyton gallery in NYC and L.A. and she currently lives and works in Brooklyn, N,Y and Merida, Yucatan.
As told to Nona Caspers, on the occasion of the solo show, Entonces at the Sears Peyton Gallery in New York City, early May 2015
One way to tell my story is that I was born in Havana, Cuba in the early spring of 1961, and by Indian summer was sleeping in a drawer pulled out from a dresser in a motel room in Miami. This sleeping arrangement was short lived, as my families´ flight north continued to Woodside, Queens
We eventually settled into a small brick building inhabited entirely by extended family, and where the English speaking world was kept largely at arms length, until the time came for me to go to school, where my Spanish and extreme shyness won me a corner on the far side of the kindergarten classroom. where I was given jars of paint, paper, brushes and solitude. I barely recall speaking to another child, but I got to have a daily studio practice in which to learn the things that paint can do on a page.
The rest of my school days were not so fruitful. Bullies, dyslexia, a massive overbite, loneliness and awful winged hairstyles. I eventually quit caring and managed to just barely graduate high school with a small pool of savings from part time jobs. I had no idea what to do.
An aunt and uncle, who had no children of their own and had always shown me much generosity, had recently left N.Y. for Carrollton, Georgia. They suggested I come down and enroll at West Georgia College. This I did, and was fortunate enough to sign up for a painting class with the artist Bruce Bobick, a gifted educator who for many years was the chairman of the art department . Mr. Bobick taught mostly watercolor. I eventually rented a room a few blocks from the school. Thanks to a generally apathetic student art community, the art studios were almost always empty, and I could use them evenings and weekends. I sometimes lived on yellow block cheese and oatmeal, yet in many ways, it was an idyllic time. But it took some years to know it.
I could not stay in a small southern town indefinitely. I eventually moved to Jersey City N.J., where I took the Path train to a string of lowly jobs in Manhattan. All the time I was asking myself, what could I do? The only thing I was good at was painting. I thought maybe I could paint for print designs, and I wouldn’t have to do the horrible jobs anymore. I took a night class on textile design at the School of Visual Arts, put a portfolio together, and began designing prints for fashion companies, eventually going out on my own. I was a ghost artist. Prints I created were everywhere, but no one know who painted them.
The world changed around me. One day, design blogs , were a thing. People put my work on their blogs, Pinterest Tumbler, etc. I didn’t really know who they were, or how they found me. At first, it was fun, a little ego boost, then it turned horrifying – the relentlessly perky tones of some of the blogs, my work being knocked off without credit , or $$$. But the internet also allowed me to fulfill a dream to live part of the year in a tropical climate. My brilliant partner Russell Busch and I bought a half colonial/half midcentury house in Merida, Mexico, in a working class neighborhood, and we have been turning into a work/ live compound. I have been living and working there for the past four years for half the year. The space-a big beautiful space-made it so I could do larger paintings, and more of them. It also made room in my head to imagine focusing on just fine art. I also started to integrate the Spanish speaking part of myself on my own terms.
Merida is Mayan – and it is very calm. Built on a limestone rock bed famously believed to be created by an asteroid crashing into the Caribbean 67 million years ago. Sometimes, in the wee hours, I can’t help but think about the big kaboom.