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ANDRES CHAPARRO - MONTCLAIR JAZZ FESTIVAL ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

Updated: Jul 29, 2023




A self-taught artist, Andres Chaparro says that he’s never taken an art class in his life. Born and raised in the Hartford, Conn. area, Chaparro was 13 years old when he was turned on to jazz. “I heard ‘A Love Supreme’ on the radio and it was like being hit by lightning,” he explains. “I didn’t even know who it was or what it was. I couldn’t categorize it but I knew it was great music and I recall feeling elevated and inspired by it.” Not knowing if the album was old or new, he immediately went to a local record store and bought the seminal 1965 recording by John Coltrane. “Basically, that was the beginning. It started this incredible discovery and opened up the world to me. I started exploring from there.” He soon learned about Jackie McLean who lived and taught in that same city, as well as other jazz greats, many of whom he would pay tribute to in his art. Not surprisingly for a budding artist, he found himself buying albums because of the covers, leading to a lifelong affinity for releases from Blue Note Records, with its iconic graphics.


As a visual artist who works in both oil and multi-media collage formats, Chaparro counts Romare Bearden, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Benny Andrews as influences, though he cites jazz musicians for truly inspiring his work. Over the years, he’s created dozens of art pieces, which have been exhibited at galleries and museums, as well as in private collections. Among the jazz subjects for his art have been Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Mingus, Nina Simone and Lee Morgan.


To create the art celebrating Gordon, Chaparro turned to the jazz legend’s music itself. “I basically just played his music and let the music speak to me,” he says. “I try to visualize what the music would look like. That’s my approach to my work. It was just following my heart.”

One of Chaparro’s signature approaches to his collage art is to include song titles or phrases within the piece. He’s even included newspaper clippings or sheet music as part of the visual mosaic for the artwork. His mixed media paintings incorporate collage, oil pastels, marker, crayon, pencil, acrylic, spray paint and found objects.



When asked how long a piece generally takes, Chaparro shrugs. “It varies, depending on how clearly I’m approaching the work or who it is. I finish it when I step back and I look at the painting and think, ‘I got nothing more to give it.’ Sometimes it takes two days. Sometimes it takes a week. Sometimes it takes two weeks. I have to work things out until I feel they speak to what I’m trying to convey.”

He says that he has a whole list of artists that he’s looking forward to painting, including many living artists. “I listen to music all the time and the music speaks to me. It makes me feel a certain way that I just need to create that musician.” Among the artists he’s looking forward to representing through his art are trumpeter Josh Evans, Sean Jones, Ron Carter, Al Foster and Pharoah Sanders.

One thing for sure, he’s certain not to run out of subjects for his art anytime soon. “I go where my heart tells me. I’ll be creating art pieces inspired by jazz until the end of my days. And I still wouldn’t have hit them all.”

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