Santa Monica’s Oscar Lopez debuts work at Saturday’s Airport ArtWalk

By Michael Aushenker

A mixed-media still life of a skull by artist Oscar Lopez

A mixed-media still life of a skull by artist Oscar Lopez

Artist Oscar Lopez’s creative journey had an unlikely starting point: his younger brother Antonio’s graffiti art. While attending University High School, Lopez became awestruck by what the boy three years his junior was achieving with typography.

Now 20, Lopez is among 30 students in a Santa Monica College art class participating in the eighth annual Airport Art Walk this Saturday at Santa Monica Airport.

While still blossoming as an artist, Lopez has applied a sophisticated, old-soul style to images such as a portrait of his friend Erika, a still life of a skull, and the painting “Music Mixed Media” (featuring sister Leslie) that transcend the apparent art-school assignments. Those oil studies — along with “Red Ranger,” depicting his youngest brother Andres in a luchador mask (“It goes back to my childhood,” Lopez said) — will be on sale during ArtWalk.

The afternoon event features live music, food, art workshops and tours of open studios housed within the airport’s converted hangars, which serve as studios for more than 60 artists.

Ruskin Group Theatre is performing highlights from their monthly improvised L.A. Café Plays series, and the Museum of Flying is displaying artifacts of the Douglas Aircraft Company, which was once based there. The airport’s ARENA 1 Gallery is exhibiting “Alternate Realities,” spotlighting 14 photographers, and there will also be Raku firing demonstrations and communal ceramic art projects for kids.

Lopez, who intends to make a living as a fine artist, credits his SMC painting instructors Nathan Ota (who also teaches at Otis School of Art & Design in Westchester) and Mark Trujillo for helping him advance his oil techniques.  Currently painting a five-by-three-foot mural of downtown Los Angeles for a Hollywood Hills patron, Lopez may soon be shopping around for a workspace at the airport.

Creating art, he said, “is like therapy for me. It’s what I like to do.”

The ArtWalk runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Santa Monica Airport, along Airport Avenue between 23rd St. and Bundy Drive. Admission and parking are free. Visit