Rafael Greno Biography

Rafael Greno




Painter and printmaker Rafael Greno was born Raphael Valentino Greno on January 30, 1909 in Lisbon, Ohio, to Italian an immigrant father and American mother. Raised by an aunt from the age of 11, they moved to Los Angeles, California in the early 1920s where Greno graduated from Manual Arts High School in 1927. He then enrolled at Oregon State College in Corvallis, Oregon, studying art and English. He graduated in 1931 and returned to Los Angeles awhere he took a job in advertising, writing fiction works and painting in his spare time.

In 1941 he married artist and teacher Violet Evans, with whom he had two children. In the 1960s they moved to Redlands, California. The pair exhibitied locally, including at the Lyon Gallery and the 1966 All-California Art Exhibit in San Bernadino, and Violet continued to teach at Cope Junior High School. They frequently traveled to Mexico and in the 1970s they moved to Ajijic in the State of Jalisco, settling along Lake Chapala near the Chapala artists' commune. They worked as artists and teachers and were a part of an informal artists' group known as the Todas las Artes Combinadas (TLAC). In addition to art exhibitions with the group, Greno wrote short plays that were performed by the group's members at the then-new Hotel la Nueva Posada. It was also around this time that Greno changed the spelling of his name to the Spanish "Rafael". Greno's woodcuts from his time in Ajijic, some perhaps dating back to the 1950s, often focused on the traditional and daily lives of the local Ajijic residents.

The family returned in California at the end of the 1970s, settling in Yucaipa. Greno died on December 31, 1982.

Find more information on the Greno family at the Lake Chapala Artists website.