100 Colorado Creatives 4.0: Josiah Lee Lopez

A fresh mural by Josiah Lee Lopez.EXPAND
A fresh mural by Josiah Lee Lopez.
Courtesy of Josiah Lee Lopez
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#60: Josiah Lee Lopez

Native Denverite Josiah Lee Lopez, aka the muralist ZEPOL, grew up on the streets and in the back alleys, with roots as a talented graffiti writer. His work — still executed on walls, though now more often with permission — has evolved with the times. When he’s not out in the world creating street art, Lopez shares his skills with people living with disabilities as an artist/mentor at Access Gallery. Lopez is an expressive painter, but a man of few words, as you’ll learn from his answers to the 100CC questionnaire.

Josiah Lee Lopez, “The Long Walk,” 2017.EXPAND
Josiah Lee Lopez, “The Long Walk,” 2017.
Courtesy of Josiah Lee Lopez

Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?

Josiah Lee Lopez: My community, friends and popular culture.

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

Dennis Hopper, Jimi Hendrix and John Belushi. It's a party, right? They were experts at it.

What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?

I like that I live and work in the Santa Fe Arts District, and I like First Fridays. I don’t like that the rent is so high for most residents.

How about globally?

There are some really good artists out there globally that most wouldn't be able to see if there wasn't the Internet. At the same time, the worst thing would be people who steal original ideas from other artists, use it for financial gain and do not pay those artists for their work. I’ve seen it done a lot of times.

Josiah Lee Lopez, "Pakal," 2017.EXPAND
Josiah Lee Lopez, "Pakal," 2017.
Courtesy of Josiah Lee Lopez

What made you pick up a paintbrush in the first place?

I started to draw a lot when I was about ten — in fifth grade, to be exact. I liked Godzilla and monsters and Transformers, and I liked graffiti, too. But I only started doing actual graffiti on the streets when I was about sixteen. I wrote CREDO 1 and 8BALL, and then in ’93 I began to tag ZEPOL, and the rest is history. I also have a background in fine-arts painting and drawing.

What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?

That I'm still practicing art.

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

Maybe travel to a couple of faraway places.

Josiah Lee Lopez, "Shoshone Nation's Chief Washakie," 2015.EXPAND
Josiah Lee Lopez, "Shoshone Nation's Chief Washakie," 2015.
Courtesy of Josiah Lee Lopez

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

I grew up in Denver, so that’s my home. My family keeps me here, but that's all. I've lived in northern California, so it wouldn't really bother me to go if a good opportunity came about.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I have couple of people that I would like to give a shout-out to: My boss, Damon McLeese, over at Access Gallery; my friend and mentor Stevon Lucero; and my good friend, artist Javier Flores.

Josiah Lee Lopez, “If I Had a Tail,” 2017.
Josiah Lee Lopez, “If I Had a Tail,” 2017.
Courtesy of Josiah Lee Lopez

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

I have some mural projects and a group show titled Pachucos y Sirenas coming February 8 at the Museo de las Americas.

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

There’s always new and fresh art that comes out of Denver. That’s how we roll.

Pachucos y Sirenas, a group show with works by Josiah Lee Lopez, as well as Justin Favela, Antonia Fernandez, Carlos Frésquez, Jerry Vigil and Daniel Salazar, opens on Thursday, February 8, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, and runs through May 26. Learn more online.

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