Meet Jimmy Peña
By Jacqueline Gonzalez
Interviewer: Jacqueline Gonzalez Photos: Brynn Osborn
You set a goal to paint 100 portraits of 100 people in one year. How did you begin this project?
This all began as an exercise to loosen up as an artist. I’ve been making art for over 20 years, and I found myself spending too much time trying to improve each little detail. I wanted everything to be exact, and it was driving me crazy. With every art piece, I tried harder and harder, and it was getting to the point where making art was no longer fun. I decided to begin this new project in which I give myself one year to paint 100 different portraits of adults from all age groups. This would not only help me improve in areas that needed work, but I would also grow as an artist.
How has it evolved over time?
Well, the initial goal was 100 portraits. I completed the 100th portrait, which was a self-portrait. It was interesting, to say the least. With one hand, I held a mirror, and with the other hand, I painted. Since I finished the 100th portrait before the one-year mark, I decided to work on a few more. I was hoping to feature more diversity in my portraits; I was hoping for a variety of culture. But the end result is still incredible, and I’m grateful for every step of the way.
Cheech Marin recently purchased some of your portraits. Tell us about that.
Oh, man. I felt like a kid when Cheech and his wife showed up at my studio. I couldn’t believe that he was sitting right there in front of me. This is someone I grew up watching on TV. I was just like any other fan — star struck. He was actually in town for his own art show, and we discussed art. He saw a few of my charcoal drawings, but he was really into the paintings. He purchased the portraits I created of him and his wife, as well as six other portraits from the 100-portrait collection. It was surreal!
What are the plans for the exhibition?
I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity of a one-man show, downstairs in the K-Space Contemporary Gallery. It’s a big deal for me. The show will be held on July 6. I hope to have everyone show up and enjoy the hard work that I put into this project.
Instagram: @jmypenia or Facebook: Jimmy Pena