Jan 012015
 

Born 26 March 1912 in Chiquinquirá, Boyacá, Columbia, Carlos López Ruíz (sometimes simply Carlos López) lived and painted in Ajijic for several years in the early 1960s. He came from a well-connected family, but disappointed his father by not entering the military or the church. Instead he became an artist.

He began his artistic career by drawing cartoons for newspapers in Bogotá, as a sideline while working in the Cartography Department of the War Ministry from 1944-1951. His drawings and caricatures appeared in several newspapers including El Liberal, humor section of Sábado and the sports section of El Tiempo.

In 1948, he displayed two artworks – a pencil drawing entitled “Tumaqueña” and an oil painting, “Indígenas del Pacífico” – in the first annual group show for artists from Boyacá.

By the early 1950s, he had become an established illustrator and caricaturist in Colombia, though his radical cartoons had gained him a certain notoriety. He left Colombia in 1952 for the U.S.

lopez-ruiz-carlos-detail

In 1953, he began a two year scholarship at the Corcoran Art School in Washington, D.C.. He was awarded first prize for oil painting in a collective exhibit arranged by the school. He spent the next five years studying the old masters in the finest U.S. museums, as well as modern art in galleries from Philadelphia to California.

In 1956-1957, he had several solo shows in Washington D.C., including shows at the Collectors Corner Gallery and the ArtSmart Gallery. He also exhibited in New York in the mid-1950s.

He returned briefly to Colombia in 1957 to participate in the 10th Annual Show of Colombian Artists. In 1959, he moved to Ajijic, Mexico, looking for new subjects to study and paint. During his time in Ajijic, he held several exhibitions in Guadalajara as well as in local Ajijic galleries. It was in Ajijic that he first met fellow artist Tink Strother (1919-2007), a relationship that lasted about seven years.

Carlos Lopez-Ruiz in his Ajijic studio, ca 1962

Carlos López Ruiz in his Ajijic studio, ca 1962

Tink Strother’s son Loy remembers that his mother first met the hard-drinking López Ruiz when the artist was living with an aging, alcoholic, silent screen star… in the fabled “Casa Estrella”, a large house overlooking the village. When the movie star’s family arrived and insisted on taking her back to the U.S. to a detox clinic, Carlos moved down the hill and installed himself in the Hotel Anita, a couple of blocks from the village plaza.

López Ruiz gradually melded into the local art scene, and painted prolifically, specializing in fine portraits of horses and toreadors, as well as village scenes.

Carlos Lopez-Ruiz in his Ajijic studio, ca 1962

Carlos López Ruiz in his Ajijic studio, ca 1962

After he and Tink Strother became “an item”, they lived together in Ajijic, and exhibited together in a group show in the Alfredo Santos gallery in Guadalajara (1962). In July 1962, López Ruiz returned for a short time to Colombia. The Galería “El Automático” in Bogotá held a one-man show for him later that year with twenty  oil paintings.

Tink Strother and Carlos López Ruiz left Mexico and moved to California in 1963/64, where they opened a joint studio and gallery, first in Pico Rivera and then in Whittier. López Ruiz lived in Whittier until his death in 1972.

Loy Strother knew Carlos López Ruiz in the latter stages of his life as well as anyone, and still has the artist’s notebooks, drawings and personal writings. He admires Carlos as a fabulous painter, whose rapid brushwork was in no way inhibited by his copious consumption of brandy. López Ruiz was choosy about selling his work and would refuse to part with anything unless he decided he liked the purchaser.

The magnificent works of Carlos López Ruiz have been exhibited in Washington D.C., New York, Virginia, Texas, California, Mexico and Colombia.

Sombrero Books welcomes comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

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  10 Responses to “Carlos López Ruíz (1912-1972)”

  1. I have two original signed paintings by Carlos Lopez Ruiz. They are very large and beautiful paintings see attached photos. I would like to know more about them and what they are worth.. Thank you for your time..

    • Hi Katrina,
      How exciting! We would be certainly be interested in seeing photos. Please use the email link at the end of the article to send us a brief message, attaching the photos to the message, and we will edit your existing comment to include links to the images.
      We will be happy to tell you more about them if we can.
      While we will not be able to offer any opinion as to what they are worth, perhaps some other reader of the post will be able to help in this regard,
      TB

  2. I have an original painting I purchased a few years ago at an estate sale. I sent photographs in an email and would like your opinion. It is unlike his paintings I have seen online and it is signed in the upper left corner, which I find strange. I would like to know if you feel it is indeed authentic and if you can give me an approximate age. Thanks for your help.

    Barbara Summers

  3. I have , The Clown. Original oil and pastel crayon. Can you tell me more.

    • We’d love to see a photo of it (attach it to an email). Doubt we can add much to what we’ve already written, but what else would you like to know?

  4. I have a small painting of a conquistador.

  5. I have 13 original paintings by Carlos Lopez Ruiz which were given to my parents from their dear friend whom I affectionately called “Aunt Tink”. I would love to have the “sad clown”, but I would take them all!

  6. I also have a Ruiz painting Chess players I would like to know it’s worth

    Philip

    • Thanks for getting in touch. Sorry, but we are unable to offer any help regarding the value of a painting.

  7. I have an oil on canvas of two friendly charming clowns shaking hands, great small hats and clown shoes. One has a ruffle collar is holding a clock. Looks like1950s? Just signed Ruiz. Bottom right.

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