Decorated with monuments and murals, Chattanooga’s downtown bustles with artists and creatives turning their art into a career. Visual artist Alex Paul Loza saw potential in Chattanooga’s art scene when he moved here with his family in 2010.
“Chattanooga became home, a city not too big and not too small where our careers can continue to flourish and with plenty of opportunities for us to contribute back to its growth and development,” Loza says.
With a heart for social justice, Loza beautifies local cityscapes, using artistic mediums to craft stories about Chattanooga’s community and culture. Sparking conversation, Loza’s work addresses topics like unity, diversity, strength, understanding and respect.
In Eastdale Neighborhood, residents celebrate a bright future for the upcoming generation in “See Me Shine,” a community-based mural led by artist Greta McLain and funded by Public Art Chattanooga. Painting alongside Minnesota-based GoodSpace Murals, Loza helped host a series of public paint parties, bringing McLain's vision of the Wilcox Tunnel to life.
One of Loza’s most well-known independent pieces is “Dreaming Forward/ Soñando,” Chattanooga’s first Latinx mural. Other public art projects he's created include “United We Stand,” “Veterans’ Memorial Mural” and “Embracing Your Raíces/Abrazando Tus Roots.”
“I first discovered my passion for art at an early age in Perú seeing my crafty grandparents and being exposed to all sorts of art supplies and techniques,” Loza says.
Loza traces his art career back to his Latin roots. As the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Center of Latin American Visual Arts (CLAVA), he uses art programs to educate Chattanooga’s Latinx population about the importance of Latin heritage and pride.
Education is a major aspect of Loza’s art advocacy efforts. Early on in his career, he worked as a paraprofessional educator, business manager and volleyball coach at a Chicago-based elementary school.
“Artists have a genuine passion for making our community proud and beautifying it,” Loza says. “We visit schools and share our art knowledge with students. We also spend time working with patients in health care and inmates using art as therapy as a way to recover.”
Loza believes artists contribute and impact the growth of our city, culture and economy.
“We inspire local businesses to think outside the box for ways to improve their space,” Loza says. “We put our hearts into our community; without the artists’ efforts we would be lacking the beauty we love about Chattanooga.”
Amid the pandemic, Americans for the Arts reported that artists and creatives suffered a devastating financial blow. 62% have become fully unemployed and the average financial loss per each worker is $24,000. Nationally, they expect to lose $50.6 billion in income in 2020. Yet, 76% of creatives say they have used their art to raise morale and community cohesion.
Stacking hands with the community, Loza launched the 202020 Frontline Heroes Project to thank frontline heroes and support hurting artists. For a $20 donation, Loza will create a 20-minute digital sketch of your frontline hero, and donate 20% of every $1,000 to artists in need. The remainder of all donations over $20 will go to funding the Frontline Hero Mural Project.
“The mural will honor our local heroes and their valuable contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Loza says.
To submit a photo of your frontline hero or learn more about the 202020 Frontline Heroes Project, visit here.