Chicho Lorenzo: Art with a smile

Photo: Ian Nichols Photo: Ian Nichols

“Chicho wears many hats here,” says BON’s proprietor John Noble, and there are certainly many hats to wear and jobs to do at the recently opened café, art gallery, and event venue in the Pink Warehouse. “Chicho does it all, from developing the space, coordinating featured artists, booking events, pursuing vendors…”

What is most remarkable about Javier “Chicho” Lorenzo, in addition to the many roles he performs as art director at BON, his prolific art career, and the active role he plays in the Charlottesville arts community, is the pure joy and enthusiasm he brings to everything he does and his interactions with everyone he meets. When offered a handshake he gives a warm embrace, and when told a poor joke, he is generous with a hearty laugh.

“One of our goals is to really be part of the greater arts community,” said Lorenzo. This theme of connectivity and outreach is central to not only his work for BON, and his personality, but also to his artwork.

Lorenzo was born in a small town outside of Madrid, and claims the vibrance, passion, and color of the Spanish culture as a great influence on his paintings. As a self-taught artist, Lorenzo studied ancient Egyptian, Greek, Persian, and Aztec culture, early religious iconography, as well as more modern masters including “the shapes of Picasso, the patterns of Klimt, the expression of feelings from Frida Kahlo, Dali’s fantasy, a sense of balance from Calder” for inspiration. He also cites his father as his “best teacher” and the source of his passion for art—a passion he will most likely pass on to his own children, Lucas and Yemaya.

After establishing himself in the art scene in Madrid and then Brooklyn, Lorenzo settled in Charlottesville, where he was quick to work covering the walls of the Walker School, Crozet Elementary, the Venable School, and the Southern Café and Music Hall with bold, bright painted murals that seem to move and dance more than lay flat in decoration. Lorenzo’s portraiture and figurative paintings are also notable, occasionally abstract, and always playful.

When he isn’t painting, or booking a concert at BON, or spending time with his family, Lorenzo performs with a local flamenco music and dance group, Toma que Toma.

Wherever you run into him around town, you can be sure he’ll be smiling.