Mario Torero & Naji al-Ali

I first met Mario Torero in July of 2003 when I was exhibiting at Light Among Shadows, an art exhibit celebrating human rights activism in the Americas held at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica California. Mario had driven two hours from San Diego to see the exhibit and also to introduce himself to me. We hit it off immediately. An artist of extraordinary energy, dedication and vision, Torero has worked in San Diego for decades creating socially conscious artworks, from public murals and sculptures to easel paintings and printmaking.

His latest artwork is a painting that celebrates Naji al-Ali, the acclaimed Palestinian cartoonist who was assassinated by unknown assailants on the streets of London in 1987. Possibly the most well known graphic artist in the Arab world, Naji al-Ali’s black and white ink drawings continue to be influential even to this day. Torero will unveil his new painting at a February 12th, 2005 event organized by Al-Awda San Diego and Students for Justice at UCSD.

The unveiling also includes a presentation on Naji al-Ali given by professor Fayeq Oweis of San Francisco State University, entitled Naji al-Ali: Character, Symbols, and Relevance. Dr. Oweis is also an artist, and is responsible for having designed the main entrance of the Arab American National Museum now under construction in Dearborn, Michigan, as well as helping to design the Arab Cultural Mural in downtown San Francisco. Dr. Zahi Damuni, coordinator of the local Al-Awda San Diego Chapter, said “We are delighted that Mario decided to exhibit his new painting in honor of Naji el-Ali for the first time at our event. We expect this event to be well attended and to attract people who are interested in learning more about Naji al-Ali’s work.” For more information on the Sat. Feb. 12th event, visit the Al-Awda website.

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