Local art lover, patron, promoter, gallery owner and fashion plate, Gregorio Escalante may be best known as a founding member of the groundbreaking “Juxtapoz” magazine and force in the lowbrow art movement. But to those who knew and loved him, he was a giver, a man of unerring generosity.
On Monday, the art world was still reeling at the news of the Huntington Beach resident’s death by suicide Thursday, Sept. 7, at age 62.
“There has been an overwhelming outpouring from people from all over the world,” said Kristin Escalante, who was separated from Gregorio Escalante.
“He was one of those very rare people who was disposed mentally to help every person he came across,” said artist and close friend Robert Williams. “He went out of his way to help anyone in the art world.”
“Greg touched so many lives,” said Wendy Sherman, manager at the Gregorio Escalante Gallery in Los Angeles. “I completely switched my career because of him.”
Mike McGee, director of the Begovich Gallery at Cal State Fullerton, said Escalante plucked hundreds of artists from obscurity and gave them opportunities, exposure and platforms for their work.
The owner of the eponymous Gregorio Escalante Gallery in Los Angeles’ historic Chinatown, he was one of the early benefactors and promoters of the so-called lowbrow art movement of the 1970s spawned in Los Angeles that was expressed in underground comics, street scenes, punk music and the hot-rod and surf culture.
Escalante preferred the term “no brow,” as a description that encompassed high and lowbrow, according to Kristin Escalante.
Escalante was an art enthusiast who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree at Cal State Long Beach, where he concentrated on ceramics. He made his money as a bonds trader before diving into the art scene, first as a hobbyist, promoter and fan and later as a gallery owner.
He was one of five founding members of “Juxtapoz,” launched in 1994, which became at one time the largest subscription art magazine in the world, according to Williams.
On the magazine’s home page, Gwynned Vitello, Juxtapoz publisher and president, wrote an RIP, describing Escalante as: “Mentor, Connector, and Snappy Dresser, you lit the torch of artistic expression. We eagerly ran alongside you…