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Sketch Pad

Lolo Strane
Whimsy dancing
by Kathy Anderson

olo 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.

"Chianti Bottle"

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 with today.

"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!"

"Cats in City"

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 New York.

"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.'"

Going public
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 in Mexico.

This month Lolo has several pieces hanging in the Morning Star Café, a small coffee shop in downtown Portland.

'Lilies on Piano"

Exchange rates
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 Claudia.

"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 MTV videos."

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.

"Purple Iris "

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."

World café
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 hot spots.

"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," she said.

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 City.

"Italian Village"

"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.

Different strokes
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.

"Guitar on Chair"

"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 a while."

Lolo is busy painting and filling custom orders every week.

"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!"

E-mail Lolo at lolostrane@yahoo.com and check out her Web site. You can reach Kathy at kanderson138@attbi.com, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

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