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.


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