Mario Calvano

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother was originally done for a Day of the Dead celebration at Self-Help Graphics, in East Los Angeles. My mother, Sadie Calvano, had tragically died at the age of 52 after a long and horrible struggle with leukemia. This print was created in commemoration and celebration of her life.

In this piece, my mother is depicted with her prize possession, a 1950s style phonograph. It brought her hours of enjoyment. I remember her dancing and doing housework while Mick Jagger sang Brown Sugar. The phonograph is, therefore, the symbol of that joy.

This piece breaks with traditional Day of the Dead imagery in its muted colors, realistic representation of a calavera and it’s reference to European art. It does, however, maintain the traditional Day of the Dead spirit of a celebration for and of those who have departed.


The Pearl

The Pearl is a piece in a series of paintings whose content deals with the idea of life in transition or metamorphosis. The human figure is depicted with a pearl, a symbol of change, in that it undergoes a transformation as it develops.

The unnaturalistic scale of objects in the painting attempts to create a dreamlike quality of the surreal as we question the nature of our experiences. At the beginning of a new millennium, the painting asks “What transformation will be made?” personally, socially, spiritually? And more specifically, to the Latino community, it inquires what transitions will be made in Chicano/Latino culture as it endeavors to redefine itself within the context of a more global cultural experience.