Ricardo Gonzalez: The Peaceful Painter

Ricardo Gonzalez shifts the circle of the flag as he makes adjustments to his mural.
Photo by Rachel Syms

At the western end of Pilsen where 16th Street meets Wood Avenue, a man in a plaid jacket stood leaning against his blue ladder with his head tilted to the right, and his eyes focused on the strokes of his paint brush.

His name is Ricardo Gonzalez, some people know him as NACO. Gonzalez has been working on his mural “La Voz Es Poder” since the end of September. After receiving approval from the projects director, Gonzalez began putting his eye-catching mural up on the wall.

“This piece I’m working on here is about music and empowerment,” said Gonzalez. “I wanted to pay tribute to my own culture and ethnicity so there’s a lot of Latino and Chicano imagery on here.”

Gonzalez’s friend and fellow muralist Erick “ROHO” Garcia created the artwork done on the right side of the cement canvas, which features the word music in Spanish and a face wearing a mask and a headdress that, according to Gonzalez, is based on Aztec symbolism.

“The heart of the culture.”
Photo by Rachel Syms

“In the middle of the mural we have a basic image with a turntable with a heart in the center to push the idea that music and heritage is kind of like the heart of the culture,” said Gonzalez.

Other key features included in Gonzalez’s mural were music note symbols, peace signs, realistic hearts and red cupcakes, playing into the painters love for vibrant pieces that project positive messages.

Gonzalez’s style tends to be the opposite of graffiti, an art form which he says can sometimes be perceived as aggressive. “When I do stuff out on the streets it’s usually hearts, cupcakes and I just try to do them as nice as I can, as detailed as I can, instead of writing a name or making something more hostile.”

By Rachel Syms

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