Black Friday bursts with color at Popocalypse art show at Toma Gallery

Black Friday bursts with color at Popocalypse art show at Toma Gallery

Black Friday will be bursting with color as the Popocalypse pop art show takes over Toma Gallery and Studios this weekend.

Featured artists include Chuco Chamuco, Juan Ornelas, Blanca Estrada, Illaramendi Graphic Arts, Carolina “Kako” Villarreal, Santiago Covarrubias, Jose Reyes, Dead Punk, Cushi Cushi 915, Steve Salazar and Jimmy Alonzo.

Organizers saw an opportunity in the timing and location.

“Fellow artist and friend Gabriel C. Rodriguez, aka Chuco Chamuco, had the idea to put on an event featuring local artists under the pop art theme,” Ornelas said via Instagram. “We decided to call the show Popocalypse to symbolize the rebirth of pop art in the Borderland. We both figured that the Black Friday weekend after Thanksgiving would be a great opportunity to attract locals and their families that come in from out of town for the holidays, while also tapping into the beginning of the holiday shopping season.”

Ornelas, who will be showing 12 new paintings during the show, added, “When people come out to the exhibit they’ll get a chance to see some of the premiere artists from El Paso who use pop culture to connect with people and to inspire creativity, along with also being able to purchase some unique gifts, merchandise and items that will really have an impact when they’re unwrapped on Christmas.”

People will see iconic Borderland landmarks reflected in the art.

In an Instagram message, Rodriguez said, “I grew up with Saturday morning cartoons, both watching and drawing them. So, when I went back to creating art, the kid inside me got me back to what made me happy. With that, I’ve tried to recreate scenes from places like The Plaza Hotel, The Tap and even Juarez’s own Tequila Derby in cartoon form as a way to bring nostalgia for the people that buy my art.”

He credits a diversity of artists for helping him find his style.

Rodriguez said, “There’s a wide variety of influence in my art, from the Lowbrow Movement (Robert Williams; Ed Roth, who created the Rat Fink character; Todd Schorr and others) to MAD & CRACKED Magazines, to Looney Tunes and old Disney black and white cartoons.”

On his website,, Rodriguez further states: “The art pieces I make are a continuation of the old Saturday Morning Cartoon feeling my generation grew up with. Armed with a remote, a bowl of cereal & a few stuffed animals, the cartoon images showcased on TV influenced me to view the world through what I call my ‘Cartoon Lens.’ Now as an adult, city scenes, historic events & various genres are Cartoonified with a touch of innocent perspective to transform the harshest scenes into Wonderlands of color pencil & pastel.”

Picking Tom as the venue was an easy choice, Ornelas said.

“We also decided that TOMA Gallery would be perfect in terms of size and its central location, along with it quickly becoming one of the most vibrant and active art venues in the city with its multiple exhibitions featuring a wide variety of established and up-and -coming artists,” he said. “All things being said, we are all hoping that the word will get out and people will flow into the gallery to burn off some post-stuffing calories while also looking to buy some art, merchandise and unique gifts for their loved ones.”

Ornelas sees the strength behind the colorful, often cartoon-like images in pop art.

“I’ve always seen the power of pop art in its ability to take icons, images and ideas and use them to convey powerful messages that the masses can more easily digest mentally,” he said. “It’s like the language we all speak because we’re constantly bombarded with everything pop culture and it crosses all borders and truly creates the global community.”

He also finds inspiration in a diversity of artists.

“My main pop art influences are Andy Warhol, of course, Frank Kozik, Ron English and favorite of all is Tadanori Yokoo,” a Japanese illustrator and designer.

Art lovers will only have two days to take in the collection, Ornelas said.

“This event will only be for Friday and Saturday and the art will go down after that.”

The BYOB art show will run from 6 pm to midnight each day.

Ornelas said the show offers Borderland residents the opportunity to see the strength of the local art community.

“The last thing I wanted to say about the event is that we both just wanted to help feature the great local artists that El Paso is producing, artists who faced a lot of challenges in showing and selling their work due to the pandemic, but who all never stopped creating and pushing towards continuing to push the caliber of art and creativity on the border.”

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