The Wondering Latina: Portrait of Artist Juan Ornelas

“Because El Paso is for everyone, Latino, Asian, White…if you’re from here, you’re “Chuco” – artist Juan Ornelas explains to me how he fought to keep the name Chuco in his show title.

“People felt it was tacky or corriente, but I didn’t see it like that, El Paso is beautiful and special there is no other place like us, and we are proud to be Chuco, so I kept it in the name”


His art was displayed this weekend at The Happy Monk, it caught my eye on social media and I was so captivated by the colors and intrigued by  the show name,  “Chuco Pop” that I had to go check it out.

When I arrived, I met the coolest guy, Juan is a local artist and proud UTEP alum, holding multiple degrees. After a few years building a successful career in marketing strategy,  he found himself needing a creative outlet and he returned to his lifetime passion, creating art.


A self-taught artist, at first he just created a few pieces here and there to relieve stress, but eventually his work caught the eye of a friend who was working on the helping the art scene rise in El Paso, he was invited to showcase his work at ‘Last Thursday’s’  – a little while after that he sold his first piece.

Since then he decided to really dedicate time to consistently creating pieces.

“Be Oblivious” 2016. acrylic on canvas.

I asked him, what’s next on his agenda,  will he leave El Paso?  “Nope, I love El Paso, I mean look at this – points to skyline –  where can you find all this beauty and culture.”

He walked me through the pieces he custom created for this weekend’s showing and I realized how deep his vision goes.

His signature icons are the light bulb for inspired ideas, the Tootsie pop as homage to the first pop art piece and the apple for knowledge.

“Geisha Pop #2” 2016. acrylic on canvas.

He often creates  images of duplicity in life and death, explaining how eventually with advancements in technology, it is possible that we will explore the next frontier of mankind continuing to live on through artificial intelligence. 

I asked about his social media presence name, “Focused Chaos.” He said, “because our lives are pulled in these different directions, in chaos” but he is able to zone in and focus on a moment, of the chaos, to find his inspiration and create.

“SamuRosa” 2015. acrylic and marker on canvas.

When asked his favorite piece? Currently it is “SamuRosa”  he explained the samurai is the ultimate of what a warrior should be, fighting for honor, pride, having precision and a master of skill and strategy, the samurai can be male or female …the rose in place of the samurai’s face represents that at the core of all of us, even the warriors, lies the tenderness of a rose. I loved it, profound and beautiful.

Juan says he is happy  just to be creating pieces he loves and is proud of all the artist and local businesses supporting the art movement. According to Ornelas, the art scene is starting to blow up in El Paso as the

DTEP (downtown El Paso) vibe and flow continues to grow.

His pop art pieces can be found heading to LA next month and then in El Paso on August 22nd. We’ll be sure to keep you posted!


For more information you can find him this awesome local artist on social media Juan Ornelas:

Instagram: juano_focused_chaos

Facebook page: Focused Chaos, The Art of Juan Ornelas

“Chuco Chicken” Acrylic on Canvas