Growing up in Mexico City, Rafael López developed a distinctive artistic style influenced by Mexican surrealism, proverbs, and myths. Today, his paintings can be found in spaces as small as a postage stamp and as expansive as the walls of city buildings. In 1997, the artist and his wife, Candice López, masterminded the Urban Art Trail Project, an urban renewal effort that revitalized their bleak neighborhood, San Diego’s East Village, with vibrant murals, sculptures, and art installations. That project, which empowered paintbrush-brandishing children and adults to brighten their home turf, is the inspiration for a new picture book, Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by López (HMH, Apr.).
Howell, now a writer and independent editor, first connected with López in 2003, when, as managing editor of Rising Moon and Luna Rising, she worked with the illustrator on a bilingual picture-book biography, My Name Is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/Me llamo Celia: la vida de Celia Cruz, written by Monica Brown.