Outsider artist painting: Trini Lopez and his Mexican band - by Harriet Young
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  • Trini Lopez

  • 1992
  • Acrylic Gel
  • 28.5" x 22.5"

We often get asked whether Harriet was on drugs when she painted (and just as often get told that). The only thing we’re sure of is that the drug-addled scene in this very early, over-the-top flirtation with irrational exuberance makes US want to venture out at 2:00 a.m. and score some Häagen-Dazs.

The man in the middle is Trini Lopez, an early Latino “crossover” singer and musician from Texas, and a fixture in Las Vegas during the ‘60s. He is not as well-remembered as some of his Las Vegas showbiz contemporaries, and ID’ing him in this painting 50 years later was difficult, to say the least.

Anyway, let’s follow the action. On a piano apparently custom built to Tex-Mex specifications, smoke wafts up from a joint in the ashtray, drifting past a Mexican guitar player so whacked out of his gourd that his glazed eyes have actually turned Gringo Blue (this is obviously very good stuff). Meanwhile, Trini seems to be saying, “Hey Carlito, what gives? You played over my solo, man. If I had a hammer….

On second thought, maybe he’s just telling the band that the front of the stage is on fire – these guys are HOT!

Harriet, in a borrowing mood, must have been looking at this mash-up below, which we discovered on Trini’s website:

Harriet Young's Trini Lopez painting was inspired by this publicity still photo of Elvis and Trini Lopez
Left: T. Lopez
Right: E. Presley

It looks like she placed TL in Elvis’s position, decked him out in Elvis’s gold lamé suit, made a belt out of Trini’s polka dot shirt, and kept his hat. No need to obsess over a painterly wardrobe when you’ve got Las Vegas publicity stills to do the job for you.

To tell you the truth, Harriet really didn’t give Trini a fair shake in this one. He seems rendered indifferently and suffering from a vengeful makeup artist.

Probably she was just whacked out of her gourd.