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PUERO AZUL GALLERY


 




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High on a jungle hillside, overlooking the bay and the town of Puerto Vallarta is the home and studio of the artist Lee Chapman (aka Lencho) that he shares with his wife Nancy and their 2 dogs, Rudy Rojo and Pinta la Vaca. Their house is filled with paintings, antiques, and colorful Mexican folk-art from their gallery “Puerco Azul” (the Blue Pig), opened in 1995.

Lee is originally from Los Angeles where he directed TV commercials for cars, soaps, toys, and various junk-foods. In 1992 he moved to Mexico to fulfill his dream of being an artist. His work has been strongly influenced by the people, color, music and folklore of Mexico (and also the many dogs, cats, pigs, and burros in his neighborhood). This “folklorico” style is signed Lencho, his Mexican “apodo” or nickname. His more realistic style is signed with his “gringo” name, Lee Chapman.

His images have been licensed and reproduced as prints, calendars, greeting-cards, and decorative items sold in stores such as Pier1, Aaron Bros., JC Penny, Kohl’s and Ross. He has illustrated many children’s picture books for various publishers in the USA, some co-written with his wife Nancy. Over the years his whimsical paintings have been shown in Puerto Vallarta galleries and other cities throughout Mexico. His work is represented in many private collections both in Mexico and the United States.


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Supposedly LENCHO was born in a small fishing village somewhere in Mexico. When he was very young (as rumor has it) he was either found, bought, or stolen by an American couple who took him to live in Beverly Hills. He was the only child in the family and spent much of his time in his room, reading comic books and drawing pictures. His friends were mainly dogs and cats.

When he was in his teens he saw a Mariachi Band playing in a small Mexican restaurant. He was enchanted by their music and songs and drew pictures of the Mariachis in their silver-buttoned suits and big sombreros. When the Mariachis went back to Mexico in their old bus Lencho, disguised with a fake mustache, went along with them.

He traveled with the Mariachis through many small towns and villages polishing their instruments and drawing pictures of the local dogs and cows and pigs and chickens. He learned to speak the language by drawing pictures and the villagers would tell him the Spanish words. Lencho learned about the magical santos, brujos, curiandados, and politicos of Mexico and because he was basically a “gringo” these tales gave him wonderful visions. He made many drawings and paintings from these stories. Sometimes an angel would actually fly off the page!

Eventually he left the Mariachis to wander on his own, usually accompanied by a dog or a pig, looking for the little fishing village he remembered in his dreams. He could always get a meal or a ride by trading a picture and many of his drawings and paintings can still be found tacked to a wall of a casa in some rural village.

One day Lencho was making a painting of a nun on a cow when a big convertible screeched to a halt. A lovely lady jumped out of the car. “Que maravllioso!” she exclaimed, digging through Lencho’s rolls of drawings and paintings. “Who are you and where do you come from?” she asked.

“Hola senora. My name is Lencho and I’m not sure but I think I might come from somewhere around here.” “Well, Senor Lencho, I have an excellent art gallery and you MUST come with me so I can give you a show!”

So Lencho drove off with the lovely lady in her convertible to Puerto Vallarta where she gave him a nice studio and put all his work in her gallery. Soon the people and tourists in Puerto Vallarta were buying Lencho’s paintings of dogs and cows and nuns and angels for their casas and condos. He was invited to many dinners and cocktail parties. But although he made many friends (and many pesos) he was still searching for the village he came from. One day he went sailing down the coast with a fisherman friend. Suddenly a big storm came up and they took refuge in a small bay with a tiny village.

And Lencho knew this was where he came from. So to this day Lencho lives in the little village, making his wonderful paintings, and nobody knows where he is except the fisherman and the lovely lady with the gallery.

Copyright - Lee Chapman - Lencho - Fine Art and Illustrations, all rights reserved, 2007.