Born in Juncos, Puerto Rico and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, Jo-El Lopez uses the visual storytelling of traditional realism to comment on the intersection of faith and modernity, the strength of family, and the multidimensional contemporary urban experience. The decades the artist spent under the Pentecostal doctrine, and a bold color palette informed by both abstract painting as well as older traditions of icon-making, all meld to create Lopez’s kaleidoscopic worldview.
His artworks reveal a restless, deeply engaged spirit closely observing not only his immediate environment, but the larger historic trajectory of national news. In his art there is a willingness to reveal yearning, and a desire for emotional transparency. Racial and ethnic identity, gender and sexual politics, and parallel as well as conflicting cultural traditions and narratives all are in play when Lopez turns his attention to a new canvas.
Lopez asserts, “Originally, I studied business and fine arts at Kean University and at Montclair State University and was prepared for a life in the corporate arena. But my life’s journey has led me back to art-making and my true passion. My work shows my voyage from that life choice to now.” In just four years since leaving the business world to focus on art, Lopez’s work has appeared regularly in tri-state area exhibitions at Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ, The Bronx River Art Center, The Center for Contemporary Art Bedminster, NJ, Rutgers University in Newark, NJ, New Jersey City State University Gallery, Kean University, Rupert Raven Contemporary, and others.
Currently he is a resident artist at Aferro Gallery in Newark, NJ