Influenced by the turbulence of the 1970s, the L.A. riots, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, Torres grew up in a dysfunctional environment and buried himself in his art to escape the world around him.
“Every night, I would see the news about the amount of casualties of Americans fighting the War in Vietnam and ask, ‘When is this going to end?’ We had lived in the area of the Watts riots of the summer of 1965, and I remember seeing burning buildings and police and National Guard in our street, and my mother told us they were making a movie,” Torres said. “We had lived on 36th Street near Vermont from 1960 to 1970, but I could feel the tension and felt that something bad was going on. I remember Martin Luther King talking a lot that society was not right, and my family participated in the Ceaser Chavez demonstrations at Delano, CA. Also I heard of Ruben Salazar being murdered in a bar minding his business because he said the truth about the LACO Sheriffs Department. I had a lot of mixed emotions about who should I trust those days.”
Torres speaks freely about a troubled family life and readily shares stories of abuse.
“Unfortunately, my father was not my real dad, and I was treated very different from his other kids that were his,” Torres said. “He was not my real father. I suffered many child-abuse experiences that are usually not tolerated these days. Grandpa was a child molester with his own kids, and everyone my parents knew were experimenting [with] drugs in the ‘60s. Even my dad sold drugs. My parents separated and divorced when I was 15, and becoming an artist became a positive way for me to try to forget this life. The art kept me off the streets and away from gangs and drugs that were prevalent growing up in El Sereno.”
By 1983, with the help of his mother and grandmother, he sold some of his art, which helped to motivate him to push himself further, to the point of attending The Pacific Institute of Commercial Art and the Otis Parsons School of Design.
By 1991, he had shown his works in many prestigious art galleries and museums including the gallery at Harvard University, the Chapman University art gallery and Occidental College.
“I have always strived to get my artwork out there, and even though most of my life, I work full-time, I look for every opportunity to show my work,” Torres said. “I always feel the need to express some kind of buried vision or subconscious feeling about some things I have seen or felt, and when I have a gut feeling about that, it is usually a very good piece of work.”