For nearly 500 years, scores of Mexicans and most of Latin America have been devoted to La Virgen de Guadalupe.
On Tuesday, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, thousands of faithful gathered downtown at the Cathedral of Angels to celebrate with song, dance and prayer.
“It’s an icon that lives with us,” said artist Lalo Garcia. “I use her icon in every single one of my paintings.”
Inside his home studio, Garcia is preparing to once again showcase the art that has made him famous, and helped him transition to a new country.
“When my parents brought me here in 1965, I was 13 years old,” he said, adding that he used drawing as a “security blanket.”
In researching La Virgen de Guadalupe, Garcia said, he found something much more profound.
“I found myself,” he said, “I found the Mexican people.”
Catholics believe Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico, and left an image not created by human hands. Garcia explains that the relationship Mexicans have with Guadalupe is “is very unique, very intimate, very personal. She is our mother.”
Garcia’s art has been displayed in churches across the country. He garnered local fame when he created the vestments Pope John Paul II wore for his 1987 visit to LA and the mass at Dodger Stadium.
But it is his personal relationship with La Virgen that Garcia said keeps his work honest and faithful: whether he paints her whole image, or hides her well-known silhouette.
“As a sign to put a heart into the piece that I create,” he said.