Blog Post – 04.20.2022  

| Who is Omar d’León? |

After our fateful meeting at an Easter dinner gathering in 1994 in Camarillo, CA, Omar and I have come to know each other well as friends, painters, and mentor/understudy.

But, who is Omar?

I have assembled here much of the information you can find online about Omar’s background, art exhibits, poetry, and other achievements, but I’ve also included information I’ve learned during our long weekend afternoons painting together over the past 25 years.

Ventura Life Magazine, Article about Omar d’León in 2008

Focus on the Masters – Documentation of Omar d’León in 2019

Museum of Ventura County

Click here to download a comprehensive list of reference material where Omar appears (.pdf document)

Back History I’ve learned from Omar directly:

Omar d’León (Lacayo Estrada), was born on March 5th, 1929, in Managua, Nicaragua, Central America, American Continent. Omar d’León is acclaimed as one of the most outstanding painters and poets in Nicaragua and Central America.

His studies included nine years at “Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes” (The National School of Beautiful Arts) under the guidance of its accomplished Director, Don Rodrigo Peñalba.

Omar d’León in his art studio

One afternoon in 2007, while we were painting together in Omar’s art studio in Camarillo, CA.

At the National level, he has participated in numerous personal and collective exhibitions in all the galleries of Nicaragua, such as Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, The American-Nicaraguan Cultural Center, Praxis Gallery, The Rubén Darío National Theater and Opera House, XPO La Prensa, Tagüe  Gallery, as well as his own Gallery in Managua, called Museo-Galería  904. 

His museum gallery was founded in January 1970, thanks to his own financial contribution and to the generous cooperation and participation of leading Artists and Sculptors who contributed their works toward ensuring the success of the Museo-Galería 904. Omar’s principles dictated that no item displayed in his Museum would be sold, but rather, by their presence, would represent a cross-section of all that represented Nicaragua, from its Antiquity to the very present.  A portion of the Museum spaces was reserved for his personal archeological collection, considered by many as one of the most complete in the Country.  The disastrous earthquake of December 1972 did not greatly damage these treasures, but many were stolen and vandalized with only about 20% recovery.

Novela de la Poesia

In 2012, Omar had his poems re-assembled in this book, titled Novela de la Poesia. These consist of poems written by Omar d’León between 1949-1990.

Omar d’León has had remarkable success at several International Exhibits, in Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Medellín, and Bogotá (Colombia) as well as in Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Texas, and California.  He participated in the Exhibit of Youg Painters, sponsored by “ESSO STANDARD OIL”.  The aforementioned exhibit successfully toured the world.  The artist had participated in, and received outstanding criticism in the “Bienales Mundiales” in Sao Paulo, Puerto Rico, Spain, France, Italy, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States.

His paintings are displayed at the Museum of Latin American Contemporary Art in Washington, which acquired some of his oils and drawings in 1979.  At the Ponce Museum of Puerto Rico may be found one of his Oils acquired about 1966.  Other works may be found in many private collections in both Hemispheres.

La Piel del Signo

“To plunge into the unyielding ocean of his poetry,-eagle or albatross-, is to enjoy the flight to freedom and a deep immersion in a word born out of a complex and profound human being, witness of himself with and extraordinary capacity to create poetry about people, memories, events, elements, and objects.” – Pedro Angel Palou, Secretariat of Culture Of the State of Puebla México, 2001.

He has received accolades repeatedly from his own Country and was awarded the coveted Gold Medal for his Oil “Hombre Sentado” (Sitting Man) in the early Fifties, during the Centennial Celebration of the City of Managua.  He was further recognized at the Juegos Florales of León during the Rubén Darío commemoration.  A Silver Medal was awarded to him in the Juegos de Guatemala, and an honorary mention in Bogotá, Colombia.  In 1971, he was a member of the Jury for the exhibition of Youg Painters from El Salvador, sponsored by the National University.

To date, his most brilliant periods may be considered as:   “LOS MONSTRUOS” and “LA CASA DE LOS GAVILANES”, which was the name he assigned to a series of works that was praised very highly by the critics.  These paintings represent an aspect of the sociological problems, phenomena, and anomalies of daily life in all underdeveloped countries.  In these paintings, the artist’s characteristic color of blue predominates.

The Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution in 1979 sacked, destroyed, and lost the production of forty years of his literary creativity (poetry, novels, essays, etc.) and also almost forty years of his artistic production (paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc.).  In 1988, those stolen paintings and drawings were being sold on the open market in Nicaragua.  The present Regime of Nicaragua also confiscated Omar d’León’s Farm.

Due to the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, Omar d’León came to Camarillo, California, USA, in April 1979, with his sister Magda Mynard Gregory and his brother-in-law Robert H. Gregory; and has continued living here since then. In December 1986, he obtained his American Citizenship.

To view his available paintings, visit: Art Gallery of Omar d’León

Blog Post – 02.07.2019  

| Mentorship with Omar d’León |

At an Easter dinner gathering in 1994 in Camarillo, CA, I shook hands with Omar d’León for the first time. We talked about art, food, and many funny anecdotes that came up that evening among family and friends. By the end, he invited me to come visit his art studio. Since then, we’ve worked together as mentor and mentee , learning and evolving the craft, and becoming friends in the process.

We paint together almost every weekend at his art studio, a magical place filled with artwork, flowers, fruit trees and classical music. I was always inspired by Omar’s outdoor garden that he has nurtured over the years with orchids, persimmons, guavas, dragon fruit, avocados, and purple magnolias to name only a fraction; all adding to the magic that is Omar.

Omar’s garden in Camarillo, CA.

We keep the windows open for ventilation, so we are one with nature when we paint. There are many memories of cooling ourselves on hot summer days with fans and ice cold mango juice or warming ourselves on cold winter nights with room heaters, hot coffee, and layers of clothes. All are truly wonderful times especially as we chat away using a mix of our English and Spanish. Omar is from Nicaragua, where his native tongue is Spanish. I am not fluent in Spanish, but have taken many years of classes to learn the language. Combined with Omar’s wonderful curiosity, we get along well and learn much from one another along the way.

It took a lot of time to learn Omars’ special oil and wax painting technique, especially doing so while navigating life. (i.e. Attending Art Center College of Design, working in the animation industry, moving out to Los Angeles, etc.). I attempted many art pieces that didn’t turn out right or were purely academic studies.

Fructus Primera

Latin for “First Fruit”. The first painting I completed in Omars’ oil & wax technique that I liked well enough to exhibit. 8 x 10 in., 2004

Creating a large enough body of work for a joint exhibit with Omar took time and patience. We had weekly critiques that I would incorporate.

– Andrea

Ventura County Star Newspaper

We had our first joint exhibit in Camarillo, California at the Camarillo Art Center in 2011 with a fellow artist, Rick McGrath. A reporter from the Ventura County Star came by and interviewed Omar and myself about the mentorship. Here is a LINK

We have since exhibited together at Paul Mahder Gallery in San Francisco, at Studio Channel Islands Art Center and are currently preparing for our upcoming joint exhibit at Blackboard Gallery in Old Town Camarillo in Fall later this year.

Fast forward to 2019, where we continue to paint at Omar’s studio on weekends, exhibit together, and share our love of art. It’s been and continues to be an honor to learn from Omar, not only about painting, but about life.



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