Strane was raised in the back seat of the family station wagon.
That is, every summer her parents packed their five children into
the car and started driving. She swears she knows every tourist
trap in the United States, coast to coast. Lolo spent the first
18 years of her life in Cucamonga, Calif., the next 18 in Mexico,
and has been in Portland for the past five.
In living color
Commissioned by an interior designer to paint a "naive Matisse-like"
table setting, Lolo Strane came up with a style that she continues
"The designer instantly liked the movement
I added to the painting," she said. "The wine glasses
and bottles looked like they were dancing. I got nice feedback
from many people, so I stuck to it."
Lolo's color use comes from her interior design
training and from watching older cartoons.
"From my generation, Bugs Bunny and Tom and
Jerry influence my choice of colors. I also get ideas from the
backgrounds and furnishings," she said. "But some of
the newer cartoons are so weird, even the backgrounds don't apply!"
Around every corner
Part of what makes Lolo get up every morning and keep on painting
is the art dealer and artist Leo Castelli. She met him once in
"He told me to never stop painting because
'someday it might be all I have, therefore I better know how to
do it damn well,'" she said. "That man was very witty.
He must have been in his late 80s when I met him."
Lolo's main source of inspiration and influence
comes from her years spent in Mexico. She also includes Matisse,
Chagall, artists who use "the black outline" and the
band Ash Can School.
"My parents are artists and my grandmother
was a painter, so I did get a lot of influence from them,"
she said. "But I think all the artists I was surrounded by
in Mexico actually influenced me more. Fine art is around every
corner, so it was hard not to be."
"Then there's my favorite animals, cats. I
live with my two youngest daughters and we have four cats. Boy
do they have the 'cattitude.'"
Lolo is "a public kinda person" so she enjoys showing
and selling at Portland's First and Last Thursday art events and
is a member of Saturday Market.
She's also shown at the Northwest Regional Art Show
and The Blue Cat Fish Gallery in Portland, and had numerous shows
This month Lolo has several pieces hanging in the
Morning Star Café, a small coffee shop in downtown Portland.
Lolos' love affair with Mexico began when she was 15 and spent
three months in Mexico City as an exchange student.
After high school and a few college art classes,
Lolo went back to Mexico for a month-long vacation.
"All in all, I ended up staying more than 18
years. During that time, I attended art school, worked in television
and raised three girls, who are all beautiful and very artistic
and musically inclined."
Lolo's television work included acting in commercials
for Chrysler, Coca Cola and Don Pedro brandy. She also modeled
for the Sears catalog and fashion magazines Vogue of Mexico and
"After 10 years of modeling and feeling too
old for casting calls, I worked in art direction of commercials
and music videos Avon, General Mills and about five Latin
During that time, Lolo also traveled; through Europe
a couple of times, New York City, Miami, Hawaii, Belize and the
Dominican Republic. She worked in interior design and toiled with
ceramics for a while.
Then Lolo began painting.
"During my years of painting, I've tried different
styles and mediums," she said. "Nowadays my paintings
are all acrylic on canvas, and whimsical. I really enjoy working
on them, they seem to make people smile."
In 1988, Lolo partnered with Enrique Cantu and her now ex-husband
Aldo Flores to found and open Salon des Aztecas, a small gallery
in the historic district of Mexico City.
In a short time the gallery became one of the city's
"It had a real art vanguard flair," she
said. "Artists were flocking to it! I'm sure the serving
of coffee and drinks didn't hurt any.
"Many artists and musicians who are well-known
today started out showing or playing at Salon des Aztecas,"
Some who had one of their first shows at the gallery
were: Francis Alyss (Belgium), Melanie Smith (England), Claudia
Fernandez (Mexico), Jaime Palacios (Chile) and Monica Castillo
(Mexico). The up-and-coming musicians and bands included: Caifanes
(now Jaguares), Cafe Tacuba and Santa Sabina.
"These groups are now world-renowned within
the Latin communities. They're really a great bunch of talented
people. I miss them all and miss the entire art scene in Mexico
"We also arranged lots of huge public events
with artists from all over the world."
La Toma del Balmori was one of the largest events
with over 100 artists and performers. The outcome of the exposition:
those artists' paintings on the boarded up windows of the historical
building drew attention to having the place restored.
The gallery and events are still going strong. Lolo has been back
in the U.S. for almost five years, but she keeps in contact, participates
in group shows and tries to visit Mexico at least once a year.
"The art scene in Mexico City is quite different
than Portland's," she said. "It's darker, heavy performances,
heavy traffic, lots of smog, lots of pressure.
"But I had to get out! My mom is from Oregon
so I knew it well. It's nice to be able to relax and breathe for
Lolo is busy painting and filling custom orders
"I'm so busy that I don't have much time to
sell myself to shops, galleries, etc.," she said.
"So right now, I think my goal would be to
get a good art rep!"