01 Aug Hector Garza, an Artist on the Rise! I can say, “I knew him when…”
Hector Garza, is a modern Mexican artist channeling the soulful intensity of Frida Khalo and the whimsical thought-provoking surrealism of Remedio Vara. Originally from Ciudad Acuna Coahuila, Mexico and growing up in Del Rio, Texas his work has always reflected Mexican-American culture, folklore and imagery. His recent exhibit at REM Gallery was birthed for his M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition, Savannah College of Art and Design, and in my very humble opinion, this is his best work yet!
Hector was inspired by the novel, “Bless Me Ultima” by Rodolfo Anaya. The excerpt Hector wrote about his art states, “The novel is a coming of age story based in the Southwest with elements of traditional folklore and opposing forces of good and evil, death and re-birth, creation and transformation, spirituality and religion. I realized that this work of Chicano literature expressed my own coming of age experience growing up along the Mexico border. My work examines themes of identity, culture and folklore of the Southwest.”
While many South Texans have read “Bless Me Ultima,” I had never heard of the book, or the indie film, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I walked into the REM Gallery, I felt a rush of emotion as the vibrant colors, carnal energy and Mexican imagery jumped off the stark white gallery walls.
My talented friend has always used bright color and mixed media in his art, but this time I felt an intense emotion from his work that I had never felt before. This was deep… soulful, and I immediately needed to know more.
So, let me take you back a bit.
I met Hector a little over ten years ago, I was the newbie to my husband’s group of friends and still very much an outsider. Once I learned Hector was an artist, I became an instant fangirl! Needless to say I connected with him on so many levels, from art to twirling to ABBA and everything in between. He is one of the wittiest, funniest, talented people I have ever met.
At the time he was a fine arts, art history, choir, and Spanish teacher at Holy Cross, and I loved listening to him reenact scenes from his day with crazy high school students. He has since then taken a leap of faith an is pursuing his dream of teaching at a university… so take note universities, don’t pass this guy up! You heard it here – he is a star on the rise!
Back to the story. I loved his style so, we attended as many art slams, art nights, and arts events as we could, and with every single event I watched his artistic talents expand. He was known for his fun Mexican-themed characters that usually depicted our friends in various life stages, or famous characters like El Chavo and El Chapulin Colorado, and my favorite – his modern adaptation of Frida Khalo.
Hector’s current exhibit, now this was a completely new vibe, but with the same deep rooted cultural undertones. The pieces were huge and you could feel the his intensity with every stroke. As I walked through the gallery the one presence I know we could all feel was Hector’s mother as she watched us from her ofrenda in the center of the room.
Her essence was in every space of the room, showering Hector with love and smiling next to all of us as we admired every piece.
During his Masters program Hector’s mother was diagnosed and sadly passed away from cancer. Hector was by her side in Del Rio every weekend, holiday and free moment he had. He painted near her, laughed with her and listened to her incredible words of wisdom and love. I only had the opportunity to meet her once and she was unlike anyone I had ever met. She could look into the depths of your soul and say something incredibly profound that would change your life. She was such a beautiful person. I believe her love transcended into Hector’s art.
When you walk in to the REM gallery the art tells you the artistic story of “Bless Me Ultima” from start to finish. It’s thought provoking and now I’ve downloaded the book so I can read the entire story to have a deeper understanding. As we walked through the gallery I asked Hector what helped shape his growth and he said, “My life experiences, both good and bad, have shaped the body of my work. The people who have come into my life have inspired and played a major part in my story… a story that is not yet finished, but continues to flourish through the years.” So insightful!
And then we turned to each other and dramatically flipped our hair and twirled to the other side of the gallery.
I’m so proud of you Hector! You’re new chapter is just beginning and the opportunities are endless. Next stop – Royal Academy of Arts and beyond!
For now you can preview Hector’s artwork at the REM Gallery and check out professional photos of his work on nether website because mine aren’t-so-great iPhone quality pics. Hector’s studio is housed at the Hausman Millworks studios.