Mural Masters: Lorenzo George and Rich Jacobs

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Classical Roots

For Lorenzo George, any wall holds the potential to become an Old World masterpiece. On these blank slates, he re-creates luxurious gardens, Romanesque pillars and villas, and flora and fauna to bring to life a bygone era of European charm. Specializing in large-scale murals—particularly those for the home—Lorenzo is the owner of Classic Murals, which operates out of the Laguna Canyon Artists colony (of which he is a founding member).

“I’m trying to combine the modern look with a classic setting,” Lorenzo says. “… I employ all kinds of classic styles, but mostly baroque—… baroque and rococo.” 

Born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1954, Lorenzo attended art school in his native country before spending his formative years visiting Italy and other parts of Europe. It was there that he took in the murals, frescoes, cathedrals and iconography of the old masters.

“I was mesmerized by everything in Italy,” Lorenzo says. “I was influenced very much by the Renaissance style.” 

He immigrated to the U.S. in 1986, initially landing in Fargo, N.D., before making his way to Anaheim in 1988. A year later, Lorenzo was commissioned to restore the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, where he made quite an impression. He has since completed murals for homes, restaurants and hospitals across Southern California. In Laguna Beach, his work can be seen in the dining rooms at both C’est La Vie and The Greeter’s Corner Restaurant.

These days, Lorenzo continues to work on his elaborate trompe l’oeil murals—paintings with an illusionistic perspective that give the impression of a greater space—but he can also be found producing fine art portraiture in his studio. A Festival of Arts participant from 2006 to 2008, he has hosted workshops for artists looking to improve their drawing and painting abilities.


Street Art Style

Rich Jacobs’ art career started at an early age. Growing up with an affinity for skateboarding, he also enjoyed drawing and making stickers. His talents quickly evolved into decorating T-shirts, creating record covers for friends’ bands and crafting skate-inspired zines. Later, he began creating public murals and caught the attention of Orange County-based clothing and shoe label Vans in the mid-2000s. At first, he participated in the company’s art shows; now, his bold, graphic designs can be seen on three pairs of shoes in Vans’ LXVI collection.

One of a select group of artists who decorated an outdoor skateboarding bowl at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach last summer, Rich has created street murals all over the world, including one in Shanghai and several in Northern California. “I like public art and public sculpture, murals—getting people to think about art in general,” says Rich, who lives in Oakland. “Cities deserve to have some of the dialogue of people living in them.”

Inspired by Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, Rich says he’s interested in different folk art from around the globe as well as 1960s graphic design. In recent years, the 43-year-old muralist has focused on creating faces: long and cartoonish with big noses, or striped countenances in various colors with toothy grins. “I’ve always been drawn to [faces],” Rich says. “They’re almost a record or a scoreboard of someone’s life. They keep track of all the experiences they’ve been through.”

Through Sept. 27, Rich’s recent paintings, drawings and sculptures are on display at Artists Republic. The solo show spans a variety of Rich’s mediums—acrylics, house paint and spray paint—while incorporating some of his more abstract pieces, including geometric designs and collage-based work.

—Written by Richard Chang

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