George Yepes was born in Tijuana, Mexico and raised on the tough streets of East Los Angeles, where he overcame ten years spent in one of the area’s toughest gangs to become, in the words of the New Times LA, “the city’s preeminent badass muralist.” He currently has studios in Los Angeles, Austin and San Antonio.
His natural affinity for painting was nurtured by fate when, in 1966 at the age of ten, Yepes found a rusted old suitcase full of paints at the end of a dead-end street and immediately put them to use. Recalling the experience, Yepes reveals, “Thomas Wolfe penned, ‘You Can’t Go Home Again.’ Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve gradually seen that dead end disappear. It’s no longer dangerous; it’s full of BMWs and upwardly mobile Latinos in half-million dollar homes. ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’….indeed.”
Influenced by artists as diverse as Michelangelo, Bernini, Velazquez, Titian, and Goya, to name a few, Yepes is currently working on a series of paintings commissioned by Herradura Tequila, the first tequila sponsor of the Kentucky Derby, held in the heart of bourbon country. “I was commissioned to create paintings that combine and reflect the 135-year tradition of the Derby and the 139-year tradition of Herradura Tequila,” Yepes explains about the effort. Yepes is represented by Patricia Correia Gallery in Santa Monica, California, and comic legend Cheech Marin is one of Yepes’ biggest benefactors, owning fifteen of his original works that are part of Marin’s Chicano Visions fourteen-museum touring exhibition.