Tuesday, June 22, 2021

RIP Art Guerra

We were sorry to hear about the recent passing of Arthur Enrique Guerra, the founder of Guerra Paint & Pigment on 13th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

Guerra, who suffered from Lewy body dementia in recent years, died on May 28. He was 81. (The mural in his honor, as seen in the top photo, went up on the store's gate here this past week.) 

Frustrated with the quality of paints available to muralists, Guerra launched the specialty paint and pigment store in 1986. In 2000, Jody Bretnall and Seren Morey joined the business, and the two will carry on after Guerra's death. 

Here's part of a tribute to Guerra on the shop's Instagram account:
Art was an institution in and of himself. A true original, one-of-a-kind character. They broke the mold after they made him. Wild man straight out of Haight-Ashbury, painter, lover of life, good Spanish wine, great Mexican food, art, artists and art materials. He was a chronic saver of homeless animals and a connoisseur of pigments and classical music. 
Forever a kid at heart, Art's boundless energy for art, art materials and the teaching and sharing of his knowledge knew no bounds. We will sorely miss his laughter and his presence. He was not only our partner but our friend. 
As his business partners for 20 years, we would like to assure you that the business that he founded and so loved is secure and will go on in his name. Though right now we are crying we will continue the teaching mission of this business to supply artists with the highest quality paint components possible to make the best paint possible. This was his vision and it is ours as well.
Some longtime East Village residents will recall Guerra's mural on St. Mark's Place of John Spacely, aka Gringo, from 1983 (it was up through the early 2000s) ...
As an EVG reader said of Guerra's death: "It's a big loss, and not just for the neighborhood."

11 comments:

anonymous said...

RIP Neighbor.

XTC said...

His paintings were whack. Deeply pigmented canvases with the texture of deep sea coral. I used to go his studio in Bushwick once a year during the open studios tour to check them out. It was a smallish space on 56 Bogart St filled to the rafters with books and paintings and art supplies and boxes of god knows what. He always had a very generous supply of wine, beer and snacks for guests, friends, and art newbies who didn't know quite what to make of his poly chromatic creations devoid of figures, faces and anything representational at all. Arthur loved color. Making color, looking at color, talking about color. He had a long life, well lived on his terms. He was an artist.

Hope they keep the Bushwick studio this open fall (Sept 18/19) for one last round. Rest in brilliant, shimmering, everlasting, iridescent color.

Anonymous said...

For many years after I arrived in 1990, Art’s shop was the only storefront on the block. The events he held there, along with the colorful cheerfulness of the store, really brightened up what was otherwise a pretty dreary stretch of East 13th Street. It’s good to know that Jody and Seren will carry on. But Art will be very much missed.

Anonymous said...

RIP! what a talent! also i loved this mural! thank you for this incredible picture!

Lola Sáenz said...

I remember the Gringo mural, sorry it was painted over
Great mural of Guerra. RIP neighbor

Beacon, NY said...

Wow, I'm wondering if the Instagram image of Art Guerra in the foreground with 2 blocks of what seems to be paint in the background is related to this one point in time which is the walking grounds/garden area in the Dia Beacon Museum.

https://diaart.org/media/w1050h700/dia_gala_don_stahl-1.jpg

The former Nabsico factory which is now a museum and it also has a branch here in Manhattan located in the Chelsea neighborhood.




Jose Garcia said...

Anonymous June 22, 2021 at 10:57 AM

I lived on that block in the early 90s also. It was always a comfort to walk by his store. Even though I'm not an artist I always thought of it as a very important place and still do. May he rest in peace. xo, JG

Anonymous said...

RIP - not an artist but always happy to walk by his shop. Hope it stays open for at least another 40 years.

John Penley said...

Sorry to hear that he has passed. Old school LES peeps are going fast so love them while you can. As for Gringo Spacely he loved to get newbies strung out on dope to create more customers to support his own smack habit glad he died because that probably saved a lot of young lives.

LPIFLY said...

The mural is beautiful. He would be proud of his talented staff

Virginia Maksymowicz said...

I knew Art. We worked together as part of the Cultural Council Foundation CETA Artists Project in the late 70s. I remember him as a good muralist and a good person. And he had the best name ever!