By Jack Neworth
These past weeks have been stressful here in Venice. The death of an unarmed homeless man at the hands of a police officer, has left a sense of tension. One can only hope that justice is soon served and that somehow some good comes out of this senseless tragedy.
In stark contrast to this tension, however, is the calming presence of a talented poet, recording artist and painter from El Salvador, Mauricio Eduardo (Moreira) Calderon De La Barca. His friends just call him “Eddie,” otherwise they’d be out of breath.
As a child in El Salvador Eddie’s witnessed much violence. At the age of 9, he unavoidably witnessed a public execution as a military firing squad “executed” a group of protesting college students lined up against a wall. Later, the government hosed off the wall as if by doing so they could erase the brutal acts, but the memories were forever etched in a boy’s mind.
As a result of these tragic experiences, “peace,” is an overriding theme in Eddie’s art and life. Blessed with a positive spirit, he’s grateful for every day he’s able to create art.
A welcome fixture on Ocean Front Walk for 6 years, Eddie’s the quintessential “street artist.” Charming and affable, he reminds me of a combination of the actor Diego Luna and the tennis player Rafa Nadal. (One rarely sees those two names in the same sentence.)
Eddie’s father, a master carpenter, and his mother, a seamstress, taught him another life lesson that he carries to this day: that others may have it worse. Maybe that’s why Eddie feels so fortunate despite not having a roof over his head or a studio to paint in, two “circumstances” he hopes to remedy soon.
Weather permitting, Eddie’s on Ocean Front Walk daily painting large canvasses. He describes his art as, “Ethereal, spiritual and healing. Using metallics and vibrant colors, I incorporate sacred geometry and mandalas. I try to communicate a healing light that stimulates thought and provides a sense of peace.” In fact, viewing Eddie’s art can have that effect.
Judging by the volume of sales, however, Eddie’s most popular works are his hand-painted skateboards. Many have the image of icons from the 60s, including Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and others from that era.
Tourists from all over the globe are fascinated by Eddie’s work and buy them to take home. As a result, Eddie’s various pieces of art are in five continents. They’re all across the U.S. and in the following additional countries: Chile, South Africa, China, Japan, Russia, England, France, Germany, Spain, and Norway. Put it this way: Eddie’s art is in more countries than Secretary of State John Kerry has been to.
Eddie dreams of one day personally visiting these places but in the meantime it brings him pleasure to know his art work is there. And he’s also flattered that part of the tourists’ memories of their vacation to Venice includes something he created.
An artist’s life is rarely easy, but being homeless presents daunting additional challenges. Eddie owns a van in which he sleeps, so has some protection from the elements. Typically, he’s grateful for what he has rather than lament about what he doesn’t. And he constantly tries to help others less fortunate. (Eddie is responsible and mechanically talented, traits he inherited from his father and would make an ideal property caretaker.)
Unfortunately, the van often doesn’t start. On occasion it’s a rather comical scene to see Eddie and his friends pushing his vehicle from one side of the street to the other to avoid a street sweeper ticket. Eddie plans to fix the van and get it smogged again soon. To raise funds he’s hopeful of getting his various art works into an exhibition at a local gallery.
Perhaps from his childhood traumas in chaotic and often war-torn El Salvador, Eddie is a highly spiritual person. He practices Kundalini yoga and considers Ram Das Bir (Singh) as his guru. His spiritual name is Mahanjot Singh, which means the lion filled with the light of God in his heart.
Much of Eddie’s work seems inspired by the 60s and reflects the peace and love from that era. He’s gratified by all the positive feedback he gets from foreign tourists who purchase his art and poetry, and also from locals, too. It is important to Eddie that he help show residents of Venice that street artists do make a difference. Eddie De La Barca certainly has.
To see Eddie’s art go to space #31 on the boardwalk, between Horizon and Westminster. Online, go to Eddie De La Barca on Facebook and Instagram. He can be reached at: [email protected]
Above: Eddie De La Barca on OFW turns skateboards into art
Photo by: Julie White