Studio visit with two Los Angelenos in Philly – Fabian Lopez and Shanna Waddell

Fabian Lopez got in touch recently about a show he curated at the old Nexus space at Crane Arts. Lopez is a recent Tyler MFA, and the 7-person exhibit includes his work and work by some friends of his. The show fills the space well — it’s mostly painting and works on paper but there is one sculptural installation. I met Lopez and his studio-mate, Shanna Waddell, who is also in the exhibit, and after looking at the show we went upstairs to their shared studio space (they are renting Susan Moore’s large studio – plenty of room for two) to check out more of their art.

Fabian Lopez, in his studio

Waddell and Lopez are both from Los Angeles and in fact they both went to the same school undergrad. They both came to Philadelphia for an MFA from Tyler.

Fabian Lopez, Next Evil, 36×48″ each, oil on canvas

Lopez, who is the son of Mexican immigrants, makes works influenced by what he saw growing up in his house (religious paintings on the wall — big iconic works with a strong central image). His oil paintings have a big-sky affect and many of them contain a strong, iconic central image, although it might be abstract.

Fabian Lopez, one of his drawings

The artist, who teaches drawing at Tyler and color theory at Rowan University, is also drawing a lot, which is quicker and more immediate than a painting, and something you can do when you’re spread thin and don’t have that much studio time.

Fabian Lopez, new work based on two religious paintings at the PMA

His drawings of late are influenced by Goya and the turbulent street life he sees around his apartment on Girard near the Crane.
In a new painting, the artist is trying something different — a large oil based on two religious paintings from the PMA collection. He said he’s been studying them for some time now, making trips to the museum. But the artist said he will take the color out of his version of the paintings….denuding them of some of their power–making them more abstract. Well, he thinks that’s what he will do.

Shanna Waddell in her studio

Shanna Waddell, Lopez’s friend, studio-mate and fellow Los Angeleno, works in a more directly intuitive fashion. Waddell gets obsessed with things and then paints up a storm in graphically representational and thickly impasto’ed oils. Currently she’s channeling religious cults, with their charismatic leaders whose often murderous ways include killing their followers and others who stand in their way of world domination.

Shanna Waddell, painting in studio, based on cult leader Marshall Applewhite

Unlike Lopez’s measured and iconic semi-abstractions, Waddell’s works are full of anger and overt passion. In fact they seem like paintings made by someone in a cult (they’re not, she isn’t).

Shanna Waddell, Trans-cient, 78×96″ oil on canvas

After some prompting by Lopez, Waddell told me she had had a solo show in New York at Thomas Erben, the dealer of Dona Nelson, one of her teachers, who had advocated with the dealer on her behalf. Waddell said she’s painting for a new show with the gallery next February.

Lopez says he wants to organize a show with Los Angeles artists and Philadelphia artists, maybe raise money to have it in the Icebox, do it up right. Sounds like a great idea.