Margaret Garcia is a Los Angeles-based artist who paints her family, community, and urban life, embracing the culture and history of Los Angeles and its Chicano traditions. Garcia began as a muralist and was involved in painting murals that were featured in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. In addition, her expressive oil and acrylic paintings are also rooted in the tradition of Chicano art.
Garcia attended the Los Angeles City College, California State University Northridge and received her M.F.A. in 1992 from the University of Southern California. She has taught and lectured on art of different cultures throughout the L.A. area.
Garcia is known for her rich color palette and textured style of painting. With bright pulsing colors, she captures moments of everyday life in portraits and places inhabited by Chicanos. She paints regular people such as street vendors sitting on curbs, stationed at parks, or selling their wares on local streets throughout Los Angeles.
She said that her work ”provides a look at my community through the presence of the individual.” One of her paintings, “The Woman Is a Doctor,“ shows a beautiful, sensual woman in a seductive red dress lounging on a divan. This woman is “Dr. Ana Anikian who was undocumented at one time. When she first crossed the border, she was deported back to Mexico. She finally successfully crossed again, stayed, and eventually got her education. She is now a Doctor of Ophthalmology.”
Although Garcia does not consider her portraits overtly political, her 2005 “Shock and Awe” does make a strong political statement protesting America’s participation in the Iraq War. She paints U.S. jets bombing mosques and shows burning oil wells contaminating the sky. In 2016, Garcia wrote, “It is a most discomforting tale of war and destruction with so much truth that it is hard to believe such an apocalyptic obliteration could be painted in color.”
Garcia paints cityscapes and landscapes, which include L.A.’s iconic Echo Park Lake often painted by Chicano artists. In her 2020 “Glorious Echo Park” she presented the site from an angle that did not show downtown L.A., the political center of the city. Instead she painted the lake set against the backdrop of hills and trees with the sun’s rays dominating the sky and glistening in the water.
“Arte Para La Gente: The Collected Works of Margaret Garcia,” is a traveling retrospective of her paintings first shown at the Museum of Ventura County in California. It will also be shown through June 2023 at the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown Los Angeles.
Her “Janine at 39, Mother of Twins” will be shown in the inaugural exhibition of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum in Southern California. Her work is also in the permanent collections of the Laguna Art Museum, the Riverside Art Museum, La Salle University Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the University of Wyoming Art Museum.