"There's an erotic sensuality to his work," Nieto said. "His lines or stripes evoke the sense of Venetian blinds--which gives the idea of privacy, intimacy, unveiling and veiling, or an opening or closing of a window."
In Mexico, Cora is a highly regarded, established artist, art experts say.
"Cora may be an emerging artist in California, but he's had a prolific career in Mexico," Nieto said. "Tamayo was very encouraging and made sure Cora's name got out."
In fact, Cora has had one-man exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and Palacio de Belles Artes (the Palace of Fine Arts) in Mexico City in 1994 and 1995, respectively.
Extremely prolific, Cora can finish 20 to 30 paintings a year, a strength that could work against him, art collectors say.
"He's too prolific now when he should concentrate on the detail and quality of his work," said Bernard Lewin, who has retired from collecting.
"I don't think Vladimir is yet on the level of the great Mexican artists. He has the talent and potential to be great, but he's still young and hasn't been around long enough in the art business. The world doesn't know too much about him yet."
Cora's paintings and lithographs often sold well at Lewin's Palm Springs gallery. He also is represented at the Adagio Galleries in Palm Springs; the Coda Gallery in Palm Desert and Soho, New York; and the Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco. The Marion Meyer Contemporary Art Gallery in Laguna Beach will feature the artist in January.
Mexican artists popularly identified with the didactic narrative muralist movement from the 1920s and '30s came to California and had a major influence on California art, particularly in the Southland. Younger generations of Mexican artists have followed the path.
"Younger artists follow us not to copy but to get inspiration from the pioneers," said Raul Anguiano, one of the last members of the muralist movement, who taught Cora figure drawing classes 10 years ago in Mexico City.
"It's very important for contemporary Mexican artists to work in the United States if they want to build a name for themselves like the Mexican muralists did. And that is what Cora is trying to do."
Art collectors and museums, such as LACMA, the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, are building their collections to accommodate the growing body of Latin American art.
"Los Angeles is the perfect place to have a gallery and study center because of its diverse Latin American population," Katzew said, noting a recent Diego Rivera show and upcoming Latin American art exhibitions in 2001, including art from Aztlan, Cuban photography and a Jose Clemente Orozco display.
Contemporary artists like Cora still have a tough road ahead to cement their names in the annals of Mexico's most influential painters.
"Here's this Mexican artist, Cora, who has been on the scene for a long time even though we talk about him as an emerging artist in California and the United States," said Anderson, the Sunset Beach gallery owner. "It's a tough field, and you have to keep reinventing yourself, doing something fresh and new. Cora's work shows the influence of changing worlds."