RIP, Magu

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Photo by Will Lester

Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, a groundbreaking Latino artist dating to the 1970s and a sometime Pomona resident, died Sunday at age 70 of cancer.

Magu got his nickname in childhood when his nearsightedness led friends to compare him to the cartoon character Mr. Magoo. Lujan’s colorful paintings and sculptures often used cartoonish forms to explore how Mexican and American cultures overlap: lowriders, pyramids, altars. “I think humor softens people’s view of my culture,” he told me in 2004.

Magu represented the letter M in my “Pomona A to Z” series of columns in 2004-05. Here’s a link to that piece, and here’s one to the LA Times obituary.

The dA Center for the Arts in Pomona is readying a Lujan exhibit, “Cruisin’ Magulandia,” for Aug. 13 to 30. Friends are sharing their thoughts at the artist’s website,

Lujan’s work can be seen in the Hollywood and Vine subway stop, which has benches with car-shaped forms and painted wall tiles with Hollywood iconography.

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