At 6' 3" tall and with an imposing build, Louis Estape ("Louie") was always a commanding presence. He reinforced his physical prominence with an almost constant barrage of words, at low volume and lightning speed.
Estape worked in the Creative Growth Art Center for artists with physical, mental and developmental disabilities in Oakland, CA from 1985 until recently. In the intervening years he developed an extensive body of art that reflects his world view, his community, his Honduran heritage, and most prominently, his vision of his relationship with God. He was eight years old when he immigrated to the United States, but almost all his work still used images reflecting his central American origins.
Over time the religious aspect of Estape’s work became increasingly pervasive. As his conversation opened to include religious monologues, so did his art expand, reflecting his obsession with religious concerns. His later works, in addition to scenes from the community, his home, his friends and animals, depict his religiosity: saints, angels, cherubim and God himself. Estape also used the sermon structure in his daily engagement with the world. In the course of his years at Creative Growth, Estape’s skills as an artist improved immensely and so did his comfort with revealing himself to the viewer in his art. His art is a literal depiction of himself in image and word.
For more background, see article by Beate Echols: Improving on Reality – The Works of Louis Estape in: Folk Art Messenger #61, Spring/Summer 2004