Sunday, February 11, 2018

Human Being

"Chief Buffalo" Water Color on Paper 2018 John Zender 9 X11 inches.

Is man higher than the beast?
Is our being an act of self determining reason?
is it our thoughts and reason that raise us above the animals?

Or do the atrocities we impose on others lower us to mere beast. 

My Son was interested in what happened to the Native American? I followed with a " son be prepared to confront some unfortunate realities."
I explained that through out history mankind has manifested a need for power, control and ownership. Sometimes these ambitions can lead to atrocities. What changes the heart of mankind, What is the distinction between the living soul, the physical body and the manifestations of the spirit. To be a complete Human Being. (A term often used by native American tribes).

Monday, January 1, 2018

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


"Misunderstood" Acrylic on canvas 2016 11X17 inches. SOLD
This piece is a social commentary on how we perceive people based on external image. I grew up in East Los Angeles during my childhood and most of my community had Cholos. Back then to me they were not the violent monsters we see in movies and television.  After moving to South Central Los Angeles in the late 1970's practically all my friends were Cholos and I got to know most of them personally. Most of them had personal family issues, but some came from really good homes, they just knew that the connection they had was a bond, similar to those in a military unit. The Music videos of gangster rap of the 80's and 90 in a way gave a voice to those issues that most street kids were not allowed to say: so that's were this painting sort of begins, the bandana hides the identity of the person or youth who speaks his or her opinion. The radiant glows is the street knowledge they know but others do not want to hear, the red paint represents the blood they have witnessed in street violence it spills upwards into their consciousness,  and finally the tattoo is the label we wear. Meaning: to fail to understand or interpret rightly the words or behavior of.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

John Zender the Artist. Series 1

I have decided to begin to share my life story with the public, this is actually one of the hardest things to do because I tend to be very private when it comes to my past.  For many years Ive been a mentor to many young artists and I always  do my best to give only my positive stories, but to understand my art or to even understand me as an artist both the dark and light side of life must be known.  throughout my series I will always connect my past with my art this is to keep this blog artistic and not just biographical. 

I was born in East Los Angeles in 1966 in a small house on 1034 1/2 S. Herbert Street in between Whittier Blvd and the 5 freeway,  My father was an alcoholic for as long as I can remember:  my older brother has more stories about these early years than I do.  I just remember Christmases and special birthdays, I do remember when my mother died, it was a major turning point for my  two sisters and brother. My father had a new women very short after that we thought was gonna be our new mom but the alcoholism was also too much for her.  My father was very violent and abusive that I thought he would kill someone one day. Much of what happened during those days are a blur,  I have replaced my memories of my family with episodes of loony tunes and 1970's television.  I loved to draw cartoons from a very young age just to keep me busy.  By the time I was in the third grade My sisters were in a foster home with another family and My brother and I lived in a tiny house on Rowan where a big cliff overlooked a horizon of small houses. On that cliff was painted big L and a big V that marked the territory of the local gang called Lil Valley. I went to Rowan Elementary and what caught my eye was the colorful Chicano mural painted all around the perimeter of the school.  Even the small market in the alley had a mural of low riders Chicanos with bandanas on their head and Chicano iconography The mural that would always be engraved in my minds eye was the doctors hospital mural on Whittier, it was so impactful that I wanted to memorize every detail. not knowing that I would use many of these images in my murals years later.

During this same year I began to start drawing portraits of people first by coping and later drawing from life, my father saw some of my drawings and asked if I drew them, he had an idea.  He took me to some bars and placed wagers that I would draw the bartender  and if I did he got free beer.  I knew I had to do my best to capture their likeness or my dad got no beer.