100 Colorado Creatives 4.0: Arlette Lucero

Arlette Lucero, “Chicana.”
Arlette Lucero, “Chicana.” Courtesy of Arlette Lucero
#73: Arlette Lucero

The Chicano art community runs deep in Denver, and Arlette Lucero has been on the front line for decades, quietly educating children in the arts and illustrating storybooks, while also painting powerful women, using imagery rooted in mestizo culture with modernized focal points. A Colorado native now joining forces with four other notable regional Chicana artists for a new exhibit at the Museo de las Americas, Lucero searches the past to look into the future. Come along for the ride, via the 100CC questionnaire.

click to enlarge Arlette Lucero embraces culture through art. - COURTESY OF ARLETTE LUCERO
Arlette Lucero embraces culture through art.
Courtesy of Arlette Lucero
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?

Arlette Lucero: Iconic women whose strength and power can be painted with all the symbols that represent them. The female persona that has most inspired me is the varied Mary Apparitions and the Virgin of Guadalupe in particular. Mary has come to this planet in a variety of colors and clothing to remind humankind to pray for peace before war with love and understanding. She would like us to take care of our Earth Mother and to pray for her healing.

I am also inspired to draw and paint trees. I drew endless trees growing up. I love all the symbols represented by the tree. Trees contain ancient wisdom. They can also be nourishing to our bodies. The family tree connects us to our ancestors. Plus, trees can be so very beautiful.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?

Since this is for a party, I would love to bring back a younger Michael Jackson, Robin Williams and Selena, with the understanding that they would perform.

click to enlarge Arlette Lucero, “Compassionate Leaders,” library mural for the Escuela de Guadalupe. - COURTESY OF ARLETTE LUCERO
Arlette Lucero, “Compassionate Leaders,” library mural for the Escuela de Guadalupe.
Courtesy of Arlette Lucero
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?

I mostly hang out on Santa Fe Drive during First Friday and mostly at CHAC Gallery. I find the artists that I meet in Denver to be open, extremely creative and sharing. They seem to genuinely love and admire the other artists that they meet and are willing to try new techniques that they learn from others. As for their worst traits, there was only one artist that really pissed me off, and I don't want to dis him.

What's your day job?

I was an artist/teacher for much of my adult life, but have recently retired from that (I think). I am currently illustrating another Tummy Tales book and working on a mural. I also take turns with my brother and two sisters taking care of my elderly mother.

You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?

To travel to Guatemala and spend time learning from the Elders.

click to enlarge Arlette Lucero, “Splash Down.” - COURTESY OF ARLETTE LUCERO
Arlette Lucero, “Splash Down.”
Courtesy of Arlette Lucero
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?

By far, my time as a teacher/artist. Sharing my talent with the young people is extremely rewarding. My talent as an artist was never as great as seeing what a child could come up with if given the tools and space to create something I inspired in them.

Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

I have lived near and in Denver my whole life and in North Denver since the ’70s. Both my parents and their parents grew up in Colorado. My few dreams and visions of my past life seemed to be in a developing Denver. My roots here are very strong. I grew up climbing, skiing and living in the mountains, watching the colors change with the seasons and listening to the sounds of the birds. I love Denver with all my heart. Staying in one place in Denver is almost like slow time-travel since there are always so many changes throughout the years. Only recently have I wanted to move away from what my neighborhood has become. I find I can no longer relate to my congested surroundings.

click to enlarge Arlette Lucero, “Broken Dreams.” - COURTESY OF ARLETTE LUCERO
Arlette Lucero, “Broken Dreams.”
Courtesy of Arlette Lucero
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

My husband Stevon Lucero, for the following reasons:

A. He is probably the most original artist in Colorado with his Metarealism. This art form is often misunderstood and does not relate to everybody, because many people are still asleep. When someone takes the time to understand his Metarealism in a deeper way, they fully appreciate him and his art. The spirituality in his art starts to speak to them.

B. He is a dedicated artist. Stevon paints every day, even when he is sick, except for Saturday, which is his Sabbath. Over the years, he has painted many hundreds of paintings, each one original and different from the others. He learns from others and uses new techniques to further his knowledge. He has a new show with new pieces every First Friday at CHAC Gallery and has done so for many years.

C. Stevon is a philosopher artist. He shares his stories, theories, words of wisdom and lectures with anybody willing to hear them. He provides advice and comfort to other struggling and new artists. He is also the most interesting artist to talk to about any subject. Stevon is a whale of information.

D. He really does give back to his community. Not only was he one of the founding members of CHAC, but he was instrumental in keeping CHAC alive all these years behind the scenes. Most people have no idea of that. I know, because I was there.

click to enlarge Arlette Lucero, “LuLu.” - COURTESY OF ARLETTE LUCERO
Arlette Lucero, “LuLu.”
Courtesy of Arlette Lucero
What's on your agenda in the coming year?

Hopefully, do more of my own personal art. This coming year, I might be spending a lot of time with my elderly mom, who requires constant attention.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?

Not sure. Perhaps a young graffiti artist. I really wish that someone with clout would finally notice my husband, Stevon Lucero for his Metarealism, not his Aztec art, after all these years of ignoring and dissing him. He really does deserve some real notice for all his accomplishments in this city before he departs from this world.

See work by Arlette Lucero in Las (H)adas, a series of site-specific installations by Colorado Chicana artists Judy Miranda, Ana María Hernando, Lucero, Jessica Luna and Meggan De Anza, opening Thursday, October 12, at Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Las (H)adas runs through January 14, 2018; visit the Museo’s website for information on related programming. Learn more about Arlette Lucero and her work online.
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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd