DAC Artist Spotlight- Manolo Lateulade’s Creative Awakening - Duboski Art Collaborative

DAC Artist Spotlight- Manolo Lateulade’s Creative Awakening

Aug 20, 2021


Monica Duboski



     On a recent phone call with DAC Spotlight Artist, Manny “Manolo” Lateulade, I asked him how he was doing in light of the recent and stunning fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban. While the turmoil in Afghanistan is a topic of conversation at many kitchen tables across the globe, for Manolo, I knew it was deeply personal and I was asking with earnestness. Though his life as a full-time working artist in Downtown Los Angeles seems far removed from the chaos and politics abroad, in this historical moment, Manolo is starkly confronted with his former life as a soldier who served in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern territories. And as so many are processing their thoughts and emotions, including Manolo, it is this contrast—from dutiful soldier to expressive creative--that makes Manolo’s emergence on the visual art scene so captivating.  
     In our interview, Manolo tells me that his journey as a visual artist on began only recently at the start of the pandemic last year. But as an observer, I kindly disagree. To understand Manolo’s history is to understand the evolution of his art. As a sports-loving, half Cuban, half Puerto Rican man with a French last name who was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Manolo is about as American as one can be. He recalls a loving childhood surrounded by family, friends, and rich Latino culture. While Manolo’s youthful passions were baseball and joining the military, it was his father’s retirement hobby that would eventually have the most unimaginable impact on his life today. Once a foreman at the Ford manufacturing plant in Cleveland, Manolo’s father loved working with his hands and decided to pick up painting to serve that need after his working days were done. Manolo tells me that the striking visual of this hard-working family man expressing himself through painting was so profound, that without it, he probably wouldn’t have pursued his artistic passions at all.


     However, in talking to Manolo, it is evident that it was his military service, more than anything else, that created within him a deep desire to weaponize art in a rebelling against the memories of war. Manolo finished basic training back in June of 2001. After the events of 9/11, he spent the next six years serving in the Army and an additional five years as a subcontractor in the Middle East. When I asked him about the theme of his artwork, he tells me that he is compelled to create with an overwhelming pursuit of female power and energy. He states, “I'm over all the masculine energy that I've lived and experienced in the past. And you know, I have nothing against it, but I'm just trying to create from a different perspective.” Indeed, the vast majority of his pieces are female-centric. While some might perceive his depictions of women as stemming from the male viewpoint, Manolo calmly insists his work seeks to affirm female power and his appreciation of it. While he admits that he is still trying to explore what exactly that means, he is consistently working towards knowledge and understanding. He shares that he, too, is trying to find a balance of male and female cosmic energy within his own person. “I never learned that side of myself in that world,” he says. It wasn’t until the forced solitude of the pandemic that Manolo was afforded the mental and emotional clarity to explore unrevealed dimensions of himself through his craft.  

     Interestingly, Manolo shares that he has discovered that he subconsciously tries to protect his creations from his own intimate experiences with war and masculine performance. The practice of creating visual artwork allows him to preserve the innocence he once had and the joy he still conjures. Of his process, he says his work is largely spontaneous and feels as though he is allowing his inner child to play. He enjoys exploring new mediums and shares that he currently gravitates towards charcoal, acrylic, oil sticks, and spray paint.  Today, Manolo surrounds himself, and the home he shares with his wife, with beauty and color. He tells me that no matter what commercial opportunities are afforded to him, now and in the future, he will always seek to “preserve the magic.”   

 As of August 20, 2021, you can find Manolo’s work on display at The Artist Tree located at 8625 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 Follow @duboskiartcollab and @manolowashere for updates on future exhibits and print releases  

Photo credit: Jennie H. Kim @bichuda.com @loveandhatela.com

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