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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Artist Lana Gomez Uses Life as Her Canvas

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Erin Ben-Moche
Erin is the Digital Content Manager at the Jewish Journal. She writes about Jewish art and culture.

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Los Angeles artist Lana Gomez’s artwork is literally larger than life. Whether it’s a large rug or a vast wall, give her a blank canvas and she will turn it into a masterpiece.

The 36-year-old has been perfecting her craft since childhood, when she threw paint on a canvas with her parents. Their encouragement gave her the confidence to pursue a career in art — something she initially thought couldn’t happen.

“It was so easy for me because it was so fun,” Gomez told the Journal. “Then in college, I had a professor who really let us study whichever style we wanted … I just started playing around and I got involved in watercolor and added in more materials and I kept wanting them to be bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger —  it just felt so freeing.”

Gomez continued to create bigger, better artwork — including transforming entire walls in her dorm room and apartments — rethinking the rules of color, shape and texture. 

“Ya Know Now Ya Know” Paintings by Lana Gomez.

“My parents encouraging me really helped me find my own voice,” Gomez said. “It was the first time I honed my craft. It opened up a whole new world for me and there is such a great creative world out there.”

More than a decade later, Gomez has studied and collaborated with interior designer Kelly Wearstler, painted a 10-foot Gibson guitar sculpture for GuitarTown on the Sunset Strip and sold one of her paintings to Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. The next project she’d like to tackle is creating a three-dimensional room with paint.

“[My art] creates a forum for people to talk. It’s not something you just randomly bring up in a conversation. It’s cool to have a talking point.” — Lana Gomez

Gomez’s pieces explore contrasting and complementary acrylic paint colors.

Each piece of art is her time capsule because, she said, “I don’t have a great memory. I sort of found when I finish a painting if I look at it and kind of think back, some thought of some random moment in my life comes out and I use it as a way to reflect and ask, ‘What is the feeling? What is the thought?’ Then I like to think of funny names for them too. Now I have all these paintings with names that could be the most random memory in my life or a random song or it could be a big moment in my life. It keeps [the memories] alive.”

Among the names of her pieces are: “All You Have to Do Is Dream,” “Different Worlds” and “What Makes You Tick?” 

Gomez said she wants her artwork to spark a conversation between people who wouldn’t normally think about what makes people get out of bed in the morning. “It creates a forum for people to talk,” she said. “It’s not something you just randomly bring up in a conversation. It’s cool to have a talking point.” 

One of her pieces is a neon fuchsia rectangular canvas with splashes of vibrant colors. Titled, “Purim” it was inspired by the Jewish holiday, which was one of her favorites to celebrate a child.

“As a kid, Purim was the most fun time because you’re dressing up and there’s the carnival and most children would have fun memories of it,” she said. “I think that painting is so colorful and over the top and reminded me of Purim.”

She said her connection to Judaism comes from the morals, lessons and family values that she incorporates in her day-to-day life and her artwork.

“Purim.” Lana Gomez

“As a kid, I wasn’t super excited to go to services,” she said. “But once I was a little bit older, I connected so much with what they were saying and I [realized] I knew more about my religion than I thought.”

Gomez, who is Sephardic, grew up in Memphis, Tenn., and Naples, Fla. She said although she lived in the heart of the Bible belt in Memphis, the Jewish community thrived. She also noted she is a descendant of the Gomez family who fled to America after the Spanish Inquisition. Their family ancestor Luis Gomez established the Gomez Mill House in 1714 in Newburgh, N.Y., and it remains one of the earliest known Jewish dwellings in North America and one of the oldest homes on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Together, with her husband — comedian Sebastian Maniscalco — and their two children, 2 1/2-year-old Serafina and 3-month-old Caruso, Gomez said their artistic visions are a team effort, whether she’s styling posters or tour artwork for her husband or he is weighing in on designs for their West Hollywood home.

Gomez is also excited that her daughter has started dabbling in painting. “Stick with it,” a phrase from Wearstler, is one Gomez continues to use especially now that she is “collaborating” with her daughter.

“It’s so fun to paint with her,” Gomez said. “She loves it, too, and it really brings me back to just my love of color and materials. To see a kid play around and have them look at a painting and see what they would do it gives me ideas. I’ll be showing her like, ‘Here, pour it this way’ or ‘Use the brush this way’ and she doesn’t do it and then something cool happens. … I like to stay open and let anyone teach me whether it’s my 2-year-old, or Kelly Wearstler or Sebastian.”


To see more of Lana Gomez’s artwork visit her website. 

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