Carlos Lopez Rosa (CALO) was born in San Salvador to a family of artists with diverse media including graphic design, rock music, oil painting, and cake-making. He holds a degree in Fine and Visual Arts from the Centro Nacional de Artes (CENAR) and a degree in graphic design from Don Bosco University.
After becoming frustrated with the exclusivity of the San Salvador gallery scene, he began to define his own street art style using a multi-layered stencil technique. His colorful pieces portray the vibrant Latin American culture, and mirror the sounds, roots, and forms of the urban-tropical lifestyle.
He currently works and lives in philadelphia, USA.
Interview Urbn Community blog.
gallery543 in the Urban Outfitters headquarters.
Brief description of you, your work, and how you got into art:
I try to recreate the urban-tropical culture of where I grew up, in Central America. I’m from El Salvador and I’ve lived and worked in Philadelphia for 2 years.
I got into art through my family; my grandfather is a graphic designer and a painter, my dad and uncle are graphic designers, too. I guess I grew up with the tools and with that incentive to make art. I remember playing at my uncle’s studio, I remember my dad staying up all night to work, always with music playing, and I remember smelling the old coffee, cigarettes, PrismaColor markers and Tempera paint.
My mom is a pastry chef, she makes amazing cakes in any shape possible, I honestly think she makes Cake Boss look like an amateur. At one point, we were all working to bake cakes with my mom, making fondant figures and airbrushing. Both my parents still make art today.
I was born during the civil war--not a good time for art--but despite everything I was very lucky my family encouraged me to keep doing it.
My art has been influenced by revolutionary propaganda, I guess that’s why I feel very attracted to street art and its accessibility. I studied fine art in the National Art Center CENAR, and graphic design in UDB University, but I ended up doing graffiti and street art with my friends. For me, it’s about going to surf very early in the morning, painting all day, and playing music in the city at night.
Can you tell us about the piece you created for URBN, including the inspiration, process and Installation?
The urban piece is inspired by a volcanic eruption.
In El Salvador in 1932 there was a cultural genocide, where the government tried to exterminate indigenous people, their language and their culture.
The ones who survived fled; people said “se enmontañaron,” “they went to the mountains.” To me, they went to the mountains not only physically, but spiritually—they became the mountains and volcanoes. Their culture survived there, hidden from “progress.”
From time to time the mighty volcanoes wake up trembling, and they shake the land. They spit lava and big clouds of smoke, helping us to remember where we come from, and what are we made of as a country.
How did you describe your aesthetic?
I find beauty in nature and people, and the underlying connection between people and nature. It’s that simple.
Do you have a mentor or have you ever had one?
My family and friends are the best mentors.
what are you working on now?
I’m working on illustrations of obsidian stone. The highly traded stone was used in Mesoamerica for daily activities, ceremonial sacrifices, and war, because it made knives, blades, arrowheads, and ornaments.
El Salvador is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Despite the violence, Salvadoran people and land are incredibly beautiful and volatile. I’m trying to show that El Salvador is going through a process not unlike the obsidian:
“A naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock. It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth.”
Centro Nacional de Artes CENAR (National Art Center) 2004 - 2006
Visual and Fine Arts Degree.
Don Bosco University 2007 - 2008
Graphic Design Degree.
CONFERENCES, EXPOSITIONS, AND AWARDS
2008 ARCA Forum, (Arte En La Calle), CCESV (Spanish Cultural Center in El Salvador.)
-” Towards the contruction of sustainable creative artistic spaces to be carried out in the historical center
2009 “La Rebusca” Homage to Ingenuity Show- San Salvador
2010 Postal services Art contest, Second place. “Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero 30th Aniversary”.
National Exhibition Hall - San Salvador
2011 Mural and poster Design for “El Cielo Abierto” (Mexico), Director: Everardo González (México)
Producer: Marta Orozco (México).
2011 El Salvador’s Emerging artist of the year, Arte Suprema
2012 “Architecture and Graffiti” Guest Lecturer for “Brainstorming” series, University of the Andes
2014 Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia, PA.
Artist assistant: “Reina de la lluvia, dueña de los charcos" (Queen of the rain, Owner of the Puddles)
-Elaborated and installed mural with Betsy Casañas in APM’s head start
2014 “Put Some Paint On It” Urban Beautification Panel Discussion -Bainbridge Green Community Art
Project in collaboration with HAHA Mag & Paradigm Gallery and Studio Queen Village, Philadelphia.
2015 urban outfitters headquarters philadelphia Mural.
2016 Norris Square Neighborhood Project Teaching Artist.
La Puerta Abierta, Philadelphia, PA. June 2014 – Present
Art and creativity coordinator “Sueños para un futuro” (Dreams for the Future) Program
-Develop art workshops for immigrant youth at Benjamin Franklin High school
-Teach newly-arrived youth healthy coping, conflict resolution, and stress management skills
Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Philadelphia, PA. June 2014 - November 2014
Volunteer, Health Promotion and Wellness Department
-Facilitated graffiti and street-art workshops culminating in a student-driven mural in the
-Assisted students in creating a graphic representation based on their chosen theme of respect
-Used art therapy techniques to build self-esteem and decision-making capacity with youth in
a drug and alcohol program
-Coordinated health campaign with youth to spread awareness about domestic violence.