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Meet Ralph Villalobos of El Cuervo Gallery in El Segundo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ralph Villalobos.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ralph. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am from Lennox/Hawthorne CA. My interest in art began around age 6 when my mom gave me her old Tarzan comic. It was written in Spanish, so I barely understood the words but the art was incredible so I spent most of my time trying to draw the images. I kept drawing throughout my youth, after high school I attended the Art Institute of CA Los Angeles in Santa Monica where I majored in Media Arts and Animation. When I graduated from A.I. I got a job animating, mostly doing PSA’s and stuff for Anti-smoking campaigns. After that I was hired at Gentle Giant Studios in Burbank and spent a few years working as a painter for the collectible toy industry. I did stuff for clients like Disney, Lucas Arts, Pixar, WWE, and countless other companies. Eventually I was promoted to the special projects group where I was assigned to large scale Fine Art Sculptures. I worked on Projects for artist Kaws and eventually the great Robert Williams. With Robert, I was mostly assisting in his large-scale sculptures, doing body work and getting to pick Bob’s brain on cars and art. It was one of the most fun and educational times of my life. When the projects with Bob came to an end, I began Grad school at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I left the studio to pursue that full time and got a job teaching. While I was teaching I began showing my work at Gasoline Gallery in El Segundo, that’s where I met my now business partner Mark Waldman, who was the sole owner of Gasoline. Gasoline had a solid run of about 10 years, but when the company expanded to a second location in Japan, something hit that no one could have seen coming. The Tsunami wiped the shop out and Mark had to close up his home base in El Segundo. So with Gasoline gone and after many years of serious work, I graduated with my Masters in Fine Art Illustration with a concentration on Graphic Novels from the Academy of Art. Quickly, I was unemployed and searching hard for freelance gig where ever I could find them. During that time, I continued to produce drawings, in order to keep my sanity. I began a four-artist collective and was offered a show at Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica. With the show coming up, I sought out the help of Mark to prepare for it. From there, we began talking about opening a gallery kind of in jest, four months later we opened the doors to El Cuervo Gallery. I poured my life’s savings into the shop and we built all the furniture by hand, painted the walls and called all our friends together to fill the place with art. The shop section carries our line of artist designed apparel, prints and art based toys/books. Our art openings occur monthly and pack the house. It’s been nearly a year of hard work promoting the shows and selling art. I run the shop daily and work on my illustrations when I get home, late into the night most times.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Some of the biggest obstacles have been returning to the art scene with a gallery very different from the former incarnation Gasoline. El Cuervo shows a wide range of Lowbrow art from skate, surf, hotrod, Chicano, mixed media, pop culture, and punk rock art. Where Gasoline was pure “Kustom Kulture” art focused on hot rods, pinups, etc. So essentially, we started out as a brand new gallery. Promoting our shows and the shop through social media and any free press we could get. We live and breathe on our clients and patrons support, it is very difficult being one of the last art galleries/ gift shop in the south bay area. Just try finding any shop nowadays that isn’t part of a large corporation, we are truly the last of a dying breed. That and the current political climate seems to have it out for us artist by eliminating funding for programs for the arts. So we do our very best to give people an escape from all that and find a safe haven for cool art and great shows.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with El Cuervo Gallery – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
El Cuervo Gallery is a reflection of outlaw Southern California. Our art shows focus on all the things that make living in So Cal great and wild. Our art and vibe is from the Skateboarding world, the hot rodders, lowriders, punk rockers, surfers, comics, mixed media, lucha libre, essentially all things lowbrow. We specialize in some of the coolest t-shirts and hats around, all designed by our artist. We are known for our incredible free shows, with free beer, and hard-hitting art pieces that you don’t need 12 degrees to understand. As a company, we are most proud of our commitment to doing our best to bring the greatest art to our clients and patrons, we haven’t paid ourselves since this thing started, all funds go to paying rent and our artist. What sets us apart from other galleries is our commitment to our artist. Both me and my business partner are artists. So we know what an uphill battle that can be. To help lessen that, we promote like crazy, posting once an hour on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, everywhere really. Always pushing different pieces, prints, or apparel from every show. We set up commissions and try to go that extra mile to keep our crew working.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our plans are to keep the shows going strong discovering new artist and styles, expand our line of t shirts and apparel and start doing away shows at conventions and events throughout the west coast.

Pricing:

  • T-shirts range from $24.00 to $26.00.
  • Original art ranges from as low as $85.00 to $3,000.00 varies from show to show.
  • Our shop offers items from as low as $3.00 and up.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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