Thursday, May 5, 2011


MAY 3, 2011


By: Isabel Garcia, Pomona College ‘14


The Inland Empire is fortunate to have many artists in its midst.  David Charles Rosales is a life long resident and Chicano artist.   He was born on March 8, 1959 in Loma Linda, California.  His educational background includes a Bachelors’ degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, class of 1983, and his Masters’ degree at Claremont Graduate University, class of 2000.  He is a current professor of drawing and painting at San Bernardino Valley College.

He has held numerous exhibitions in California cities: Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, Colton, Pasadena, Claremont, 29Palms, San Bernardino, Pomona, Ontario, Chino, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, and also in Arizona cities Tempe, Mesa, and Phoenix.  He has produced an extended collection of art pieces, and kept in touch with his Chicano roots.  Rosales has found that his passion lies primarily in painting and in drawing.  With over thirty years of experience in the arts, Rosales has found that his passion lies primarily in painting and in drawing.

Every artist has there own style and philosophy and Rosales is no different.

I have developed my way of manipulating the illusions of
representation that modernism has taught me with a regard to
Western Art History and at the same time a disregard to its values.
-     David Charles Rosales
His art has been influenced by the education he has received, but has also been shaped by experience.  He has tried to captivate his audience with changes in his style.  For example, his nickname is the product of change and identity.  He accepts the term, Chicano, to describe his personal identity and work, but also the nickname, “El payaso.”

El payaso is the outsider who I bring in to my work as a way of creating just one face of the characters who makes up my comment on contemporary California culture. He is a depiction of some of the Latino youth I see and know, I think about him and I know him.
-     David Charles Rosales
-     [] 
“El payaso” allows Rosales to play with the clown’s character.  In other words the nickname serves as an explanation to his style.

It is both negative and positive, it is tragic and funny at the same time. This character of the clown, the jester or trickster is in many cultures and is used to express serious issues through humor with the ugly realities just under the surface, this is how I use this character in my narrative.
-     David Charles Rosales
-     [] 
Rosales has and will play with the double lifestyles, identities, differences among Chicanos, Mexicanos, and Anglo Americans,
“In memory of a rabbit,” 1995, acrylic on canvas ” 24 x 24”

“In memory of a rabbit” is part of the Rosales’ Love Tigers collection.  This series was created in in 1994-1997.  The ideas that he was exploring in this series were the hidden identities.  He was inspired by a costume he retrieved from Mexico. 

This costume was created out of a painted canvas jumpsuit and a large carved wooden mask with mirrored eyes, boar's hair, and teeth. It represented many things to me. The idea of how a costume is used to conceal and at the same time to express an ideal was very interesting to me.
-     David Charles Rosales
This collection reflects his experience at Patton State Hospital, a mental institution, as an artist-in-residence teacher well as identity awareness.  For Rosales, his paintings were and are portrayed through his rabbit costume.

The Love Tiger series was inspired by a Mexican folk costume that I bought in Mexico.
-     David Charles Rosales
The costume helps portray various aspects of identity.  For example, how we both display and conceal our identities.  In other words, the costume can serve to hide the individual, while letting them express their preference (culture, etc.).

My Love Tigers on the surface looked to be passive and beautiful with their bright colors and hearts painted in their eyes, but they were also aggressive and dangerous with their sharp teeth that could bite.
-     David Charles Rosales
During his work at the hospital, Rosales had the workers create puppets as a day’s activity.  The therapist and Rosales had the workers discuss what there puppets meant or symbolized.  The initial task was to describe the qualities that they gave their puppets.  Nonetheless, Rosales noticed that the patients were prone to attribute their puppets the same qualities and/or lifestyles that they lived at Patton.  The Love Tigers series holds this same concept.  Rosales, as an artist, tried to portray this same attribute in his art.  Identity is Rosales’s artistic focus and he plays with this attribute to create a sense of irony.   

“Gentlemen Love Tiger,” 1993, acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”

The “Gentlemen Love Tiger” is part of the Love Tiger series.  This painting reveals the face of a human – a Chicano – hidden behind the mask of a tiger.  Another component of this picture that hides the man is the suit.  The mask and the suit can be seen as representations of the effects of American culture on Chicanos.  The Chicano must hide and/or blend into the American society to gain access to the American dream.  Behind the figure we can see spaceships and aliens in the shape of a Mexican sombrero.  These figures can describe the Mexican immigrants – “aliens” – that cross into the United States similar to an invasion.  The placement of the spaceships – Mexican immigrants - in the portrait’s background reminds Chicanos of their original heritage and how they can never conceal their roots.  Chicanos could hide under a mask of assimilation and Americanization, but they will remain Chicanos.  Nonetheless, the portrait heart border expresses the secret heart of Jesus – Mexican symbol – thus expressing the Mexican side of the Chicano.  The strong colors and painted patterns of the portrait are also symbols of Mexican culture.  In conclusion, this portrait reveals the Chicano identity crisis in the United States.

Some of his other exhibitions include: Solo Exhibition at the 29 Palms Art Gallery, 29 Palms, California, The Art of David Rosales (solo show) at the Merc Gallery in Temecula, California, and Adentro/ Afuera (group show) at Esrella Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona.  These shows were hosted in 2006.

Other art pieces include:

“Portrait of a Young Chicano Artist,” 2008, oil on canvas 24” x 36”

“Spaz as an angel,” 2000 oil on canvas ” 24 x 24”

“Assimilation Battle in the Orange Groves,” 2005, oil on canvas 36” x 36”

“El Payaso Battling the Aliens,” 2004, oil on canvas 18” x 24”

For more information please visit his website at or contact via e-mail at

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