Carlos Loarca (1937–2021) was born and raised in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. He was a muralist, painter, and visual artist who painted for more than five decades. His work often depicts Mayan iconography, Guatemalan mythology, bright colors, and nature. He exhibited work in countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy, and his murals can be found in San Francisco, his native country of Guatemala, and in St. Petersburg, Russia. Loarca was stationed in France during his service with the U.S. Army, after which he settled in San Francisco. He often depicted the supernatural and doglike creature El Cadejo, present in Guatemalan, Salvadoran, and Honduran folklore, which he said became a parallel to his own artistic life. One of the most important murals he worked on is on the front wall of the Mission Cultural Center for Latin Arts, which Loarca was able to restore after thirty-five years, in 2017. During the 1970s, he taught mural making to children in public schools in San Francisco, working under Ruth Asawa. He also collaborated in 1973 with Susan Kelk Cervantes and some children from the neighborhood center 24th Street Place to create an untitled mural, no longer extant. Many of his paintings depict clothing, traditions, and the daily life of Guatemalans. Loarca was a founding member of the Galería de Raza, inaugural director of the Mission Cultural Center, and director of SoMArts (1983–2007). A book titled A Possible Reality: Carlos Loarca—Artist and Muralist, cowritten by his son Tomas Loarca and Ariel Martinez, highlighted a sample of fifty of his paintings. Loarca has spoken of how much painting allowed him to overcome his addiction to alcohol.
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