Cecilia Lueza Colors Our World

By Cindy Stovall

Cecilia Lueza Colors Our World

How lucky are we here in Pinellas County – for many reasons – but the one I’m thinking of in this moment is just how many incredible artists from outside the US have chosen to call this area home.

These artists have woven so much richness and texture into the fabric that continually advances the Pinellas County arts and culture scene. Their influence infuses truth into one of our most profound mantras at Creative Pinellas – “Art Uplifts Humanity.”

I can think of no better embodiment of that phrase than the lovely Cecilia Lueza – a painter, sculptor and muralist who comes to us by way of Argentina. She, her husband and daughter, settled in Pinellas in 2007. Educated in Buenos Aires at the National University of La Plata, Lueza’s style is unmistakable. The bright colors – primary and jewel tones – sweep seamlessly in bold flourishes and geometric patterns.

Influx, in downtown Clearwater

She has exhibited work in group and solo exhibitions throughout the US, Argentina, Mexico and the Caribbean. Lueza’s murals dot the landscape in Pinellas, throughout Florida and other lucky communities all over the country.

Often you see birds, women and children grace the foregrounds of murals or paintings. Her large-scale sculptural public installations feature lines that intertwine as they reach for the sky, evoking peace and broad smiles that happen without you even knowing it.

A SHINE Mural Fest creation by Cecilia Lueza, this time on a pier stretching into the Bay just north of downtown St. Pete, at North Shore Park

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I had the privilege of speaking with Lueza recently and offer our Q&A to all you art lovers out there who want to learn more about the talented people we get to call neighbor.

Q.  Share with us your overall point of view and what you’re going for as you create.   

A.  My main source of inspiration is nature, which contains all the answers we need for everyday life and to find inspiration.

My purpose, when I create something, is to capture brightness, dynamics, and color – and to convey that to the public in a way that is memorable.

Q.  It definitely is that. I also notice a geometric component to your work.

A.  Yes, yes. I love geometry because of the clean lines. You can say a lot with geometric shapes without being minimalistic. So yes, it’s another element I like to incorporate into my work.
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Elysian Days, in downtown Clearwater

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Q.  Tell us about your life growing up in Argentina and what brought you to the US, Florida in particular?

A.  I’m from the province of Misiones in Northern Argentina. I feel very fortunate because my upbringing was so influential in the way I see life. It was so green and very rich in flora and fauna.

I was close to all that beauty growing up and so I guess that has become a big part of who I am as an artist.

Years later, I decided to go to school in the city of La Plata in Buenos Aires to receive my formal training and I stayed there to live. I met many artists and poets, but it was hard being an artist in Buenos Aires. Finally, I met some artists from Miami, and they invited me to come to the US and visit them – which I did. I decided it was a good fit, so I moved to the US permanently in 1999.
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A night view of Delta, in Tarpon Springs

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Q.  How did you end up here in Pinellas County?      

A.  Well, I met my husband in Miami, and after our daughter was born, we decided to find a more laid-back type of city to raise her – somewhere more historic with kind people. We came across St. Pete as we were exploring the West Coast and really just fell in love with it. We’ve been here since 2007.

Q. What’s been the most dynamic change for you as an artist here between 2007 and 2022?

A.  I feel the area is really opening up to investing in important art projects. You see many more monumental, permanent installations and sculptures going up.

I am seeing a sort of sophistication and diversity take over in terms of the art that is being selected for installation. I think it’s been a great change.
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Common Ground, in downtown St. Pete

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Q.  Tell us about some of your public work in Pinellas County.

A.  Well, of course there is Common Ground, the street mural at an intersection on Central Avenue and 5th St. as part of the SHINE Mural Festival in 2016. It was a great opportunity to add my own splash of color to the city and I loved having the community, including the kids, help with it. I loved the unity and meeting so many new people. We’re ready to do a touch up!
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Summertime, in downtown Clearwater

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There is also now an intersection/street mural in Clearwater at Cleveland St. and Garden Ave. Summertime was commissioned by the Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). (Note – Lueza was selected from over 190 nationwide applicants for this project.)

I’m proud of Encounter, a mural featuring birds in the Warehouse Arts District where so many other amazing artists work and create.
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The Blue Hour, at 100 1st Ave N in downtown St. Pete

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There are installations in North Shore Park and several around downtown St. Pete where one of my favorite murals is at the high rise, One. It’s called The Blue Hour. It’s that time between day and night – my favorite time of day.

Trailblazer is a mural I did for the children’s studio at the James Museum. I was so grateful for that opportunity because while I was there, I could immerse myself in the museum’s amazing collections. Having my work in front of the kids while they are creating is pretty special.
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Trailblazer, at the James Museum

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Q.   Your murals are a prominent feature around the county, but are there public
sculptures of yours in the area?

A.   Yes. We – I say “we” because I work with my husband. He’s my right hand and my support system. So that’s great to have. We installed Delta in Tarpon Springs at the end of 2020. It was a private commission for a development company located at the entrance to the Icaria on Pinellas apartment complex.
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Delta, in Tarpon Springs

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Q.  What advice would you give to emerging artists from a business success perspective?

A.   Present yourself as a professional – have a professional website, portfolio, and try to be consistent in the type of work that you do. Develop a line, a style that people will recognize you for.

It can take time to find your voice but be persistent. Devote a few hours each day to your craft. Keep applying for grants, artist calls for shows and installations, and keep knocking on those doors. Being great at social media is a big help. Persistence is the key.

Celestial, part of the Sabal Trust art collection in St Pete

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Q.  What is your favorite part of the creative process?

A. Seeing the final product is always the best part for me. It’s a great feeling when you see the ideas in your head become reality. I love that.
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Check out lueza.com to view much more work from Cecilia Lueza
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Exuberance, at the HCC Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa



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