Local artist shares dark inspiration

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By Luis Quintero
Alex Howard stands besides his rendition of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, while describing the emotional support his uncle provided him when he first began painting. Luis Quntero | Viewpoints

Dark shades, clashing colors, vibrant hues and surreal images are only a few words that can accurately describe Alex Howard’s artwork.

Once a month Howard opens up his doors and shines light on his views of the soul. He is among a handful of artists who occupy studios that are used to present their art in the Life Arts Center building.

On the first Thursday of every month The Riverside Arts Walk gives artists a spot to exhibit their work, which allows them to get recognition and make a quick buck.

Artists come out to the public parking lot on University and Lemon where countless local art enthusiasts circle around vendors showcasing their work. Across from this parking lot stands the building in which Howard occupies.

“I really liked the portrait of Michael Myers he has put up on the wall, it’s just so dark and evil, like I know his role in ‘Halloween’ was not a saint but it just really paints him like the movie makes him out to be,” said admirer Erick Castillo. “All his pieces are pretty dark and gloomy, it makes me want to go home and watch a scary movie.” The dark imagery Howard paints can’t help but captivate viewers and motivate them to reminisce on their favorite scary movie.

“It’s pretty dope the way he paints, the stuff he paints, it’s kind of creepy but in a cool way.” said admirer Julissa Cadena.

Howard began his admiration of art at an early age drawing in notepads and sketchbooks during his free time. Once he started getting better with his sketches, people took notice. Classmates would often request him to draw illustrations for a comic book they were working on.

As Howard matured, as did his art style. “Artists have a sort of responsibility to document what’s going on around them,” Howard said. “I feel like my art is my diary, if you get all my art and piece them together you’ll get a roadmap of my life.”

His introduction to Vincent Van Gogh really inspired his present style of art. He relates to the late artist’s work and describes his own art as trying to capture a dream on canvas, a sort of “dark surrealism.”

“I remember one of the best compliments was this little kid, I was at the LA Art Walk and he was with his mom, his mom was sort of bustling by not really enjoying anything and he stopped her and said ‘Mommy look, he’s creating,’” Howard said.

The best recognition for him is not through awards or money but through creating an emotion that strikes people once they stumble upon his art.

For many artists a muse is always needed when creating their reality on canvas, Howard is not exempt from this universal idea. He finds inspiration through almost everything. Such as experiences from his past or just through his great admiration for nature and the beauty it holds.

One person in particular that pushes him to continue with his brush strokes is his late friend named George. Their friendship began after meeting in a class at Riverside City College, they shared each other’s sketchbooks. “I was just blown away” Howard said.

After his close friends death, he felt he had to pay tribute to him through his work. “I remember just thinking it was a shame, this dude had so much talent and potential and he just ended up dying, after that I just felt I had to produce, to make, to paint and create.”

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