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Meet Candida Peña

Today we’d like to introduce you to Candida Peña.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in the colonial city of Puebla in central Mexico. Since childhood, I was always interested in arts and crafts, as well as design in general. I received my bachelors of architecture from the University of Puebla BUAP being one of the few professional architects in the city. For many years I partnered in a design and construction firm in the city, but eventually got into teaching simultaneously where I had the great opportunity to teach design and architecture for over 26 years at my university as well as in the Universidad de Las Americas Puebla UDLAP.

While I was teaching I decided to start studying fine arts and eventually got my degree on arts and realized I was very interested in pursuing that direction as well. My world became a very interesting fusion between architecture, construction and fine arts and for many years, I produced various art collections, international collaborations and at some point arts became a new profession for me. For decades I was active member of various local and national artist organizations and became the lead of the Mexican Society of Artists and worked very hard on getting a proper facility to develop fine arts in the city of Puebla, which we eventually got and name the “Museo Vivo de Arte ” in Puebla. This made my artistic intentions more relevant and join a larger group of art professionals in Mexico.

Eventually, the movement became international and was able to participate in artistic collaborations and exhibits in Italy, Germany and the United States, where I eventually got a whole new generation of art via murals and large-scale projects in full interaction with architectural environments. Once in the United States my focus was in California where I got commissioned to do various large scale murals for the restaurant group FRIDA. The first one was a 700 sf wall mural (~50’x14’) in the Restaurant Frida Mexican Cuisine in Americana, Glendale. In that projects we developed gilding and acrylic mixed media techniques and the process was divided in two parts, half production in my studio in Puebla, and half on site at the space in Glendale. After that, I was approached to do three more murals for the Frida group, one in Frida Westwood, Pasadena and the original location in Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills.

Simultaneously I was also hired to do a series of murals in Mexico. One of them in a rooftop restaurant for a new hotel in Polanco, Mexico City, and in a series of private corporate offices, both of them over 500sf in size. Recently I am back in California and was invited to be part of the new creation of Frida Group, the Cantina Frida in Beverly Hills, where we did the artistic mural for the Speakeasy bar, a secret private club in the mezzanine level where I created a figurative,mural combined with gold, sand and other textures, all on top of an existing brick wall. For the last years, I have exhibited in various galleries and the plan is continue to do so, and I am planning to do it here in Los Angeles, where I feel there is a strong and significative wave of artistic interactions and I would love to be part of it, and make this city a better place.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There is always obstacles, but the one thing that you get as a creative or an artist is that obstacles become opportunities or even inspiration. Comfort and stability is not always the best platform for creation, so if life doesn’t give me challenges, I go find them. In my personal case, the world of architecture was always very productive and the profession gave me a lot, but in arts I connected more with myself, and that is a huge gain already. Always very difficult or challenging to be on trend or to find originality, but for me as long as I am me and do what I feel, that’s already unique and original, so that’s always my direction. At the beginning it was never easy to convince or try to get a client to invest in art or design, now it got a bit simpler, but I am more strict with myself and want more, so anyway, it never gets easy, but it is fun, and that has no price.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I have a business approach towards the production, distribution and exhibits, but in art, creation goes first. Sometimes I am just not inspired or not in the right mood, so it just doesn’t happen. But some others I have it on me and it just flies. On the client-side, it’s really more about the engagement with them or the collaborators. And I consider myself very fortunate on talented on that end. I have done amazing collaborations with architects, artists or owners. I am proud of my capacity to do any type of project, large or small, rough or elegant, I am very productive and versatile, and I think that’s also what sets me apart.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I have many. I have a very large family so it was all about siblings, being the older sister was always challenging. I loved school and trips. My family’s ranch in the countryside was one of my favorite places and the interaction with animals and nature, and always a big fan of the beach 😊 I was a lot into dancing and took classes of everything, from cooking to fencing.

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