Paul Hoylen's artwork is all over Deming,
a place he came to because of an ad in a comic book.
by Marjorie Lilly
Deming artist and local art icon Paul Hoylen took a roundabout route to the desert Southwest. He was born in Vienna, Austria, and lived his early years with his parents and brother in several other countries — England, Sweden, Venezuela — and in the Washington, DC, area. "That's where I got my exposure to art," he says.
His father worked in US consulates and embassies all over the world. His mother's father, from Colombia, worked in the Colombian consulate in Paris, and she got a degree in art from the Sorbonne.
So it wasn't an obvious choice that led Hoylen to become a cartoonist. He paints mostly people in a simplified, naive style, often in crowd scenes or group scenes.
The models for his artistic style are mostly from folk art in Haiti, Colombia or Michoacan, Mexico, with their typical subjects being "families having parties, having weddings," he says.
"But I'm more interested in contemporary culture — I call it 'comic anthropology,'" he adds. "I like doing bars, street life, a humorous take on anthropology. You can call it 'visual anthropology' or 'cartoon anthropology.'"
Hoylen's paintings are liked and shown all over Deming and the area. The first ones he showed publicly may have been at the Pink Store in Palomas; that's where he started specializing in crowd scenes. The store has since sold his paintings, but there are still a couple of T-shirts there with a painting of his in kids' sizes. One of his paintings adorns a wall of the Hispanic Room of the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum.
Hoylen's "Don Gato."
There are three of Hoylen's works at the Adobe Deli, two at the Deming Brewery, one in the Luna County Court House, a couple at Campos Restaurant, and several displayed at the Gold Street Gallery. He's been part of a show at the Hal Marcus Gallery in El Paso, and he's illustrated a bilingual book called Chula the Chihuahua (by Garilee Ogden and Tya Taylor) that "did well locally, regionally," says Hoylen. "The schools bought it." There were book signings at Gold Street Gallery and at the Hal Marcus Gallery.
Years ago he painted a mural at Memorial Elementary School that included Maurice Sendak figures and Curious George. "I spent all summer doing it," he recalls. "It was beautiful. Everyone liked it." But it was eventually knocked down, he says.
Two summers ago Hoylen painted a large mural of angels on a wall at St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Deming, with the help of two women at the church — Elsie Torres and the late Toy Ogden.
Hoylen also has the proud distinction of winning the $100 first prize for painting a trash barrel. It depicts Spiderman reaching out for a can, and it says "Be a Hero, Keep Luna County Beautiful."
With his very recognizable style, his art is definitely iconic in the area.