Luz was born in Santiago, Chile. She attended schools in Santiago. After school, she began working for Lan Chile Airlines in 1959 and became a Flight Attendant. Upon her marriage in 1964, she and her husband moved to San Francisco in California. She worked in Production and Quality Control for several Silicon Valley Hi Tech companies for a number of years.
Luz’ career in painting began quite by accident. She received a wonderful “gift” of a complete set of oil and watercolor paints with all the materials as a present from a co-worker and began to experiment with painting.
She immediately fell in love with oil painting and for a number of years she studied privately with other professional artists. One of these artists, Luis Busta (also from Santiago who lived in the San Francisco area at the time), was particularly inspirational. She also studied with the noted painters, Charles Becker and Lee Dalton, and attended college to study form & composition as well as life drawing. Painting was a very natural act for Luz and she progressed rapidly. She began to have success selling her paintings.
Luz remarried in 1976 to an American, Jim Hartley, a marketing executive in the telecommunications field. Her new husband was so impressed with her paintings that he immediately insisted that she leave her position in industry to devote her full effort to painting. Soon thereafter, she held her first solo exhibition and began making arrangements to form a private art school. However, at the time her husband’s occupation caused the family to move to Tehran, Iran in 1977 where he was to serve as Managing Director, Middle East for an American company. While in Tehran, Luz became the president of the largest district of the American Women’s club. She began teaching oil painting to many in the large American expatriate population living there. During this period, many new collectors, American, European and Iranian, acquired her oil paintings for their collections.
The Iranian Revolution in 1979 forced Luz and her husband to return to California earlier than expected. Upon her return, Luz decided to open a private art school with a large studio space. Luz and her husband lived in Foster City, California, a beautiful bedroom community 25 miles south of San Francisco. Luz named her new art school: “Luz of Foster City School of Art” and over the next several years she had more than 100 students enhance their painting skills in her tutelage. Her name began to grow in her hometown and the local Chamber of Commerce requested that she create a series of paintings of some of the waterfront scenes of her home community. Foster City is similar to Venice since it has many waterfront homes and parks. Limited edition prints were created from these paintings and these lithographs were sold by the Chamber of Commerce as a fund-raiser to many local residents and businesses. With this additional activity, Luz’s local recognition increased and she began to take on more students and sell her paintings more frequently.
Her move into the art business also inspired her husband, Jim, to become involved in the world of Fine Art and, with a partner, he started his own gallery, “San Francisco Art Exchange,” in the theater district of San Francisco in 1983. One of his first projects was to publish a limited edition print of a beautiful painting of San Francisco by Luz entitled “Memories of San Francisco.” This lithograph has been distributed to collectors throughout the world.
Luz became very interested in art dealing as she watched her husband’s business prosper and she decided to open her own gallery in a local major shopping center in 1985. Her gallery, “Peninsula Art Exchange,” exhibited her personal artwork, but also featured the artwork of many domestic and internationally known artists including America’s most famous living painter, Leroy Neiman, Japanese master Hisashi Otsuka, Art Deco artist Erte and many others. She also took special satisfaction in representing watercolors by the well-known Chilean artist, Sergio Alegria. During this time, she held a memorable exhibition for the paintings of the legendary singer, Tony Bennett (“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”). Tony made a personal appearance at the highly successful opening party for the exhibit at the gallery. In addition, Luz played an important part in helping to launch the career of the important American artist, Charles Becker, who was subsequently named as one of the “Absolut Artists of the 90’s.” (other artists so honored by Absolut included Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali). Her gallery was an instant success. Luz continued to operate the gallery at that location until 1993 at which time two of her children had reached high school age and she wanted to dedicate her full attention to them during that critical time of their lives.
Once all of her children had finished their education, Luz became restless to travel and to paint images of her favorite vacation spots around the world. She decided to go back into the airline industry and took a position with Virgin Atlantic Airlines. This provided for an opportunity to travel extensively and the ability to accumulate a great deal of subject matter for future paintings. While working with Virgin Atlantic Luz received two major honors by being named “Employee of the Year” and “Hero of the Airline.” The “Hero” award resulted in an all-expenses-paid first-class trip to England to be personally honored by Virgin Atlantic founder, Sir Richard Branson.
Having satisfied her "travel bug" Luz once again decided to open her own art gallery to dedicate full-time to her painting for the first time ever. In 2006, she formed Luz Fine Art Gallery
in Foster City
. Her beautiful gallery is located in a shopping area of Foster City and contains both a fine art gallery and painting studio. Luz continues of teach private classes with aspiring artists of all ages, but the majority of her time now is spent working on her own paintings and commissions.
Luz loves her homeland and returns to Chile from time-to-time to visit with her many family members. Her sister, Angelica Lopez Elzo, and her brother, Cesar Lopez Elzo, still live in Santiago along with many nephews, nieces and cousins.
Luz holds major shows of her paintings at her gallery annually and during her most recent show, Holiday Magic, she unveiled an impressive group of paintings of her favorite holiday get-aways. You can view this exhibit and all of her current paintings, as well as her gallery and studio, by visiting her website at www.luzfineart.com