Santa Cruz Sentinel Biography

UCSC art professor dies in Mexico at age 60

Dan White
Santa Cruz Sentinel
September 12, 1997

Accomplished muralist and UC art professor Eduardo Carrillo dies in Tijuana on July 14.  The internationally known artist, who drew his inspiration from ancient myths, Chicano culture and desert light, was 60 years old.

Mr. Carrillo died at a hospital where he was beginning treatment for cancer.  A group of 25 family members and friends accompanied his ashes to San Ignacio, in Baja California.

Mr. Carrillo was a founding member of Oakes College and served as a fellow of both Oakes and Porter colleges.  UC Santa Cruz Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood remembered him as “an extraordinarily  talented artist, an imaginative, dedicated teacher and a gentle, considerate person.”

Mr. Carrillo once described himself as a “trained, disciplined observer with a humanistic viewpoint and an eye toward the spiritual and aesthetic in art.”

It is fitting that Mr. Carrillo was buried in the central Baja mission pueblo of San Ignacio.  The pueblo played an essential role in his life.  That was where his mother was born and he spent many boyhood summers.  It is also where he made semi-annual visits to his desert studio, discovering the possibilities of subject and light.

The youngest of five children, the artist was born in 1937 and raised in East Los Angeles.

As a youth he attended local schools.  He earned his bachelors and masters of fine art degrees from UCLA in 1963.  A year in Spain, painting in the Prado in Madrid,  confirmed his ambition to devote his life to painting.

In 1966, he and his first wife Sheila, moved into the ancestral home in La Paz, Mexico, where he founded and directed El Centro de Arte Regional, a center for the revival and study of regional crafts.

In 1969, he returned to California to teach for two years at Sacramento State University before he was called to UC Santa Cruz, where he has been a respected member of the faculty for 25 years.

He taught drawing, art history, ceramics, shadow puppetry, mural, fresco and his primary focus, oil and watercolor painting.  He created set designs for local theater productions, brought art programs to children and teenagers, and supported emerging artists in the Beach Flats area.

His work has been exhibited for 40 years in dozens of solo and group shows in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. and Latin American.

One of his exhibitors is his friend, Joseph Chowning, owner of a large gallery in San Francisco.

Chowning would accompany Mr. Carrillo on trips down to San Ignacio.  “Even when he was driving, he was always thinking about something other than the mundane.” Chowning said.  “It was obviou he was thinking about something else and usually that involved painting.

“His painting is very humanistic and in alot of cases very mystical,” Chowning said.  “he had a knack for taking an object and turning it into something almost surreal… He could take an orange peel and empty brandy bottle and make it a whole composition.”

Mr. Carrillo’s themes delved deeply into his Mexican roots, including the pre-Columbian era and more recent historical topics.  One of his major works is a large and dramatic tile mural at the Placita de Dolores in Los Angeles.  He had another mural at the Palomar Arcade in Santa Cruz.  The artwork was later destroyed.

“It was monumental” his wife, Alison Carrillo said.  “He painted from his unconscious mind.  There was an archetypal quality about it.  It was just following his instinct.  This mural was an enormous representation of that.”

He is survived by his wife, Alison Keeler Carrillo of Santa Cruz; a daughter, Juliette Carrillo of Los Angeles; a son, Ruben Carrillo of Honolulu; a stepdaughter. Bhavani Parsons of Paris; three sisters, Georgina Ossorio of Miami, Mary Black of Burlingame and Patricia Mullins of Huntington Beach; a brother, Alex Carrillo of Northridge; and a grandson.

A memorial celebrating his life will be at 11a.m. Sept 28, at the Baskin Visual Arts Courtyard at UC Santa Cruz.
A painting and drawing scholarship has been established in his name.

Contributions may be made to the UC Santa Cruz Foundation. Donors should write on their checks that the money is a memorial gift for the Eduardo Carrillo Scholarship. Checks can be sent to Art Development Office, Division of the Arts, UCSC, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, Calif. 95064

1 thought on “Santa Cruz Sentinel Biography

  1. Ed was a wonderful human being and friend. I am grateful to live with some of his art. Mr. Green wood’s description of Ed’s character is spot on. I will add that Ed Carrillo was an exceptionally humble man. I miss him.

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