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Coffee and art with Drica Lobo at Java Man in Hermosa Beach

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“Forever Tim Kelly,” by Drica Lobo. The coffee cup reminds us that the work is on view at Java Man in Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach, through Brazilian Eyes

Drica Lobo’s paintings glow brightly at Java Man

by Bondo Wyszpolski

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If you like art that’s vibrant and colorful, check this box  ⃣  ; and it you like scenes of palm trees, the beach and the ocean, check here  ⃣  ; And if you like the sights of Hermosa Beach then here’s one more for you  ⃣  . Did you check all three? Of course you did. But either way, we’re going to talk about and with Drica Lobo, okay?

Drica Lobo is a Hermosa Beach resident who currently has about 15 of her paintings on the walls of Java Man on Pier Avenue in the downtown heart of the city. She’s originally from the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo. In the early 2000s she’d finished college, had a job where she commuted several hours each day, realized how stressful it all was, and because she had friends in Atlanta, Georgia, decided to move to the United States. She arrived in 2003.

Now, we’re all Californians, right? so let’s be honest. When they talk, the people in the Deep South sound like they’ve got a mouthful of acorns. We can’t understand them. And Drica, even though she’d studied English her whole life, had a very hard time to understand them as well. So she moved to Seattle.

Drica Lobo. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

When opportunity knocks…

Alright, that wasn’t the only reason she moved.

Prior to decamping for Atlanta, Drica had worked as a journalist in Brazil. Also, from the age of ten, she’d been painting. Her mother encouraged her, and so until she was 16 she attended art school. At that point, her father told her she needed to find a job. “I’m not going to start working,” she replied, “I’m going to start painting.” So she did, although most of the work that she sold went to her mother’s friends. Well, we all have to begin somewhere.

Anyway, Seattle inspired her. It rained like crazy, of course, but for a while Drica didn’t mind.

“It was okay for me because I liked the city and I liked to walk everywhere, even in the rain.” She also started showing her pictures, and they didn’t go unnoticed.

Drica worked at a Brazilian steakhouse and one day Eduardo Mendonça, who was promoting Brazilian Day at the Seattle Community Center, came in and said he was looking for an artist, and did she know of any?

“Well, I’m an artist.”

“Really? How many pieces do you have?”

Drica didn’t have any, but she countered with, “How many pieces do you want?”

“I need about 15 to 20, enough to fill up a whole gallery.”

“With You,” by Drica Lobo

Most painters with no more than a canvas or two would have recommended someone else. But Drica, who recognized an opportunity when she saw it, asked if he wanted to see her work. “I can show you in a month.”

You can guess what happened next.

“It took me an entire month. I was painting day and night, and going to school and working. It was one of the hardest times, but I was like, ‘I cannot miss this chance!!’”

She called the series “Colors of Brazil,” and it was, she says, a huge success.

Not long after this, when she was getting tired of paying so much rent in an ever-drizzling town, a former roommate told Drica that she should move to California. Not only California, of course, but Hermosa Beach. Seeing pictures of this quaint seaside town convinced her, and Drica packed her bags.

For all that, the first few years here didn’t go so well. The artistic inspirations that she’d found in Seattle didn’t bloom in this new location.

Drica worked various odd jobs, and even though she quickly came to like her new surroundings the art just wasn’t happening.

“Live Below the Line,” by Drica Lobo

One day she interviewed a Brazilian artist for the magazine she was then writing for: “When I stepped into her studio I was like, That’s the life I want to have!”

And then it comes together

Perhaps that was a turning point. But when Drica again stepped up her painting there was something else, a something else she didn’t have before: her own style.

In school, she says, she had to follow the rules and mostly this meant drawing from or copying other artists. For example, only Mozart starts out as Mozart; everyone else seems to sample this, sample that, before becoming who they’re supposed to become.

So, for Drica, the textures, the colors, the blends that are distinctly her began to emerge.

“I used to bike and run pretty much every day around town, and I was always taking pictures of things that I like,” she says. Then she’d paint, somewhat spontaneously since she doesn’t plan or make sketches in advance. “I just do it. Everything’s in my mind, all the ideas.”

Her self-confidence improved, and she made a commitment to herself:

“If you want to become a working artist you have to paint every day. It’s the only way to get better.”

Subsequently, Drica has shown her work at Fiesta Hermosa, in at least one local restaurant and yoga studio, the recent “Water & Wood” show, as well as last year’s El Segundo Art Walk.

“Keep That Sunshine,” by Drica Lobo

As for the work on view at Java Man, some of the pictures are recreations of scenes she’d painted previously, but given “a brand new look.” The pictures pretty much glow and one might even describe the colors as tropical or Caribbean in nature. Personally speaking, these scenes of Hermosa landmarks really do seem to have been filtered through Brazilian eyes. (If I’d painted them, for example, they’d resemble the rather darker tones of Edvard Munch)

It’s safe to say that for Drica things have been on the upswing. Drica Lobo Art began when she turned her garage into a painting studio, where she teaches art to one or two students at a time. She also has a little business called “Drip. Drop. Drica,” in which she’ll bring easels, canvases, and painting materials to someone’s house for gatherings of maybe six to ten people (the host supplies food and drinks), the result being a kind of painting lesson-slash-painting party all at once. Images from one such event are on her website (dricalobo.com).

Better yet, Drica has lots of plans for the future. She’d like to expand into other areas, to promote merchandise with her brand of art, from T-shirts, bags and pouches, to shoes. If that sounds ambitious, just think back to when she painted all those canvases inside of a month because she badly wanted that show in Seattle. That passion and drive is something we can all admire.

Paintings by Drica Lobo are on view through March 5 at Java Man, 157 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach. (310) 379-7209. ER

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