Catnip for Connoisseurs - Page 3

Living a dream incognito, hard-working El Gato Gomez churns out art for those who like things sleek and stylish
Catnip for Connoisseurs
El Gato finishes up a 'butterfly roof' cover for CA-Modern magazine.
Catnip for Connoisseurs
'Time Tunnel' ("I want to live in this painting").
Catnip for Connoisseurs
'Sculpture Garden.'
Catnip for Connoisseurs
'Beat Abstract' ("I love beatniks," El Gato says, "and even have a Jack Kerouac tattoo").
Catnip for Connoisseurs
'Tiki Party.'

One particularly popular piece showed the Batmobile. But its success did not motivate the artist to create a fleet of the winged vehicles. “That was cool, but I don’t want to do 8,000 Batmobiles,” El Gato says. “I can’t really let myself get bored.”

It’s not always easy to score one of El Gato’s works, says Michelle Manx, who has bought about 15 over the past three years. Manx has been outbid at times, but not for one image of a belly dancer with red hair and a cat. “I’m a belly dancer with red hair,” Manx says, and she loves cats. “I kept bidding on that one,” she says.

Manx also loves the series El Gato did of jazz cats—beatnik cats playing drums and bass, or smoking cigarettes in long holders. Manx, who has become El Gato’s Facebook friend, convinced El Gato to do a portrait of herself and her pets. “We’re all sitting around and drinking martinis, me and the cats.”

Jon Hill, who has bought several of El Gato’s paintings for his Eichler home in Sacramento, some for his office, and several others as gifts, appreciates the variety in El Gato’s art, which suggests to him such painters as Picasso, Miro, and Kandinsky. He even commissioned her to paint an image of his home, based on a photo.

They’ve also become Facebook pals, with Hill enjoying her posts about pop culture. Both love punk rock. “She’s got a great sense of humor,” he says.

Although El Gato claims to suffer from “artistic ADD almost,” as a girl she was clearly able to focus her attention on one object—the tube.

“I grew up in front of a television, 24 hours pretty much,” she says. “If I was awake, I was in front of television. All those black-and-white TV shows are just ingrained. Just the kookiness of it all is what made me fall in love with it.”

It was the antique re-runs that grabbed her, The Munsters and The Addams Family, 1950s science-fiction movies, and Creature Features. She fell in love with Walt Disney, including the artwork of animation designer Mary Blair, and Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion as designed by Roland Crump and others.

Imagine her delight then, when Disney came calling recently, asking her to participate in a pop-art-themed show at WonderGround Gallery in Disneyland.

“When Disney approached me I just thought I would pass out, ‘cause they’ve been a huge, huge influence from the time I was like four years old,” El Gato says. “I’ve been in love with Mary Blair and Roland Crump and a ton of Disney artists that I think are the biggest geniuses on the planet. When they contacted me I thought, ‘Work for Disney!? Roland Crump worked for Disney!’”

Remember the old Mars Attacks trading cards from 1962, a takeoff on War of the Worlds, with such cards as ‘Washington in Flames’ and ‘The First Ray’?

Topps tapped El Gato to contribute designs for their 2013 updated Mars Attacks series.