Renowned San Diego artist Gloria Muriel has charmed both art lovers and everyday folk for years with her magical drawings, paintings and murals. Sparks Gallery unveils the artist’s work in a new exhibition, Beyond the Eyes, showcasing Muriel’s signature style of imaginative and colorful characters. With works titled Inhale and I am Sacred, Muriel encourages viewers to contemplate what lies within the mind and self.
Known also for her large scale murals around San Diego, her artwork has also been exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and throughout Mexico. PACIFIC caught up with the busy artist to find out more about her magical characters and her inspiration.
PACIFIC: For those who don't know your work, are the faces you use in your works based on real people or are they from your imagination?
GLORIA MURIEL: They are from my imagination, based on states of mind and as a part of accumulating information from experiences in the world.
Beyond you being a woman, is there a connection to most of the faces being women?
I feel through art I can be more feminine than I am in real life; I actually have more masculine energy. So, I feel the energy flows more into the feminine and connects to the divine that all women have, I feel honored to be a woman in this life.
Your works literally pulsate with energy, movement, and color. Is music and color theory (the idea that certain colors provoke certain feelings) inspirational when you are creating?
Yes, I feel music is a very important energy, I hear voices in the lines, the color strokes, and rhythm. The theory of color is always present, the energy each color gives and my own state of mind. There are times I feel very turquoise.
When looking at your works it feels like there is a magical world just behind your figures that we are getting a tiny glimpse of. Is this intentional, capturing a slice of time with the character?
It comes naturally, but it has become more intentional to bring the magic to the character, with more intention into the background, the surrounding world and how the character is feeling.
What inspired you to paint wide set eyes?
I blame it mostly on watching cartoons as a kid. I liked anime, and they have really big eyes. I saw it as an honest way to explain how you feel, more expressive than words. So I capture that, and the characters are very honest, and about how I feel.
What is it like painting large scale murals? Was it intimidating the first time?
Yes, it’s always intimidating, being exposed and not being in your studio. Leaving your safe space, and being exposed to a community, it’s a feeling of, ah, like taking a dive. I have to do therapy with the walls and prep myself. So I take it as a challenge, and take a deep breath.
Favorite artist of all time?
There are so many! Salvador Dali influenced me a lot, he explored things that don’t exist — dreams, fantasy — I admire his genius. Tim Burton, with the characters, illustrations, stories and colors. And (H.R.) Giger, he’s known for aliens and cinematography. But his fine art is beautiful of alien women, they are mystical, sacred and magical.
What do you do when you aren't creating art?
I like going on hikes with my partner and my dog. But I love to be in my studio. I also do mama stuff, hang out with friends, and play music just for fun.
Beyond the Eyes
When: Through June 3. The gallery is open noon to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: 530 Sixth Ave., downtown
More info: 619.696.1416 or sparksgallery.com