Visual Artists

Celerino “Cele” Castillo III Vietnam Veteran and Chicano artist

Celerino “Cele” Castillo III is a Vietnam veteran and Chicano artist. I met him at Art Studio by Design located on Main St in McAllen arts district. Inside the gallery, I found a small room reserved for Celerino’s drawings some of which deal with war but all feature Chicano themes.

Celerino told me that he wishes to educate people about Mexican-American cultura, a term that refers to culture. We talked about the word Chicano as a civil rights term with political connotations. He brought up symbols like the Pachucos, which refers to certain Mexicans living in the United States during the 1950s who carved a cultural identity of their own.

Maya and Aztec references are also present in Cele’s work. We see the indigenous pyramids of Mexico and the quetzal bird as references to a lost Pre-Columbian heritage.

I asked him if Mexican Americans are still exploring the symbols depicted in his drawings. He said that in places like California and San Antonio, Chicano symbols are more common than in the Rio Grande Valley. He attributed the lack of Chicano symbols to little emphasis put in Mexican American themes in the Valley.

Overall, I found this exhibition very interesting because it put me in direct contact with traditional Chicano topics. Some of the symbols addressed in Cele’s work are important because they have given Mexican Americans a cultural voice through the decades.

Artist and Vietname Veteran Celerino Castillo III

Artist and Vietnam Veteran Celerino “Cele” Castillo III at his Chicano Arte Exhibtion in McAllen’s art district. Mar 7, 2014

Artist and Vietname Veteran Celerino Castillo III

Artist and Vietnam Veteran Celerino “Cele” Castillo III at his Chicano Arte Exhibtion in McAllen’s art district. Mar 7, 2014

Painter Gaby Rico presents the exhibition titled “Chasing Rainbows A Lucid Daydream”

Painter Gaby Rico presented a solo exhibition at Hinovations Art Gallery in McAllen, Texas featuring paintings of colorful landscapes. The exhibition opened on February 7th, 2014 and is set to close in March. On February 28th, I met Gaby at the gallery to make some pictures and talk about her work.

Gaby has a cosmic perspective about culture. When I asked her about what it means to be Mexican American she replied that nature and the universe are bigger than ourselves.

Painter Gaby Rico

Painter Gaby Rico holds one of her landscape paintings outside Hinovations Art Gallery in McAllen, Texas. The gallery featured her paintings in solo exhibition. Photo from Feb 28, 2014

Painter Gaby Rico

Painter Gaby Rico holds one of her landscape paintings outside Hinovations Art Gallery in McAllen, Texas. The gallery featured her paintings in solo exhibition. Photo from Feb 28, 2014

Painter Gaby Rico

Gaby Rico drawing a model right after our photo session. Hinovations Art Studio, McAllen, Texas. Photo from Feb 28, 2014

Painter Gaby Rico

Painter Gaby Rico and her series of paintings titled “Chasing Rainbows. A Luci Daydream” in McAllen, Texas. Photo from Feb 28, 2014

Paul Valadez artist and lecturer at the University of Texas Pan-American

Paul Valadez is an artist and a lecturer at the University of Texas Pan-American. I have attended several of his exhibition throughout the Rio Grande Valley. I’ve had the opportunity to follow his work for roughly six years. He is inspired in part by Mexican films from the 40s and 50s. He showed me stacks of magazines featuring actors and personalities from that era. His work has a subtle humorous touch that uses witty phrases in English and in Spanish.

Painter Paul Valadez

Paul Valadez holding one of his paintings at his office at the University of Texas Pan-American Art Annex in Edinburg, Texas. Jan 13, 2014

Painter Paul Valadez

Paul Valadez holds a throwback issue of the magazine Somos. Art Annex of the University of Texas Pan-American in Edinburg, Texas. Jan 13, 2014.

Painter Paul Valadez

Paul Valadez poses next to his drawings on February 19, 2013 at the Weslaco Museum in Weslaco, Texas. Reception for his exhibition entitled Lessons in Scorn.

Painter Rosendo Sandoval at Galeria 409

Rosendo Sandoval painting exhibition at Galeria 409 in Brownsville, Texas. Rosendo’s work is influenced by lyrics found in corridos and other songs dealing with Mexican culture. This subject matter visits the past and tries to connect it with the present. His oil paintings feature plenty of saturated colors.

Painter Rosendo Sandoval at Galeria 409

Rosendo Sandoval and his painting exhibition at Galeria 409 in downtown Brownsville. Jan 10, 2014

Painter Rosendo Sandoval at Galeria 409

Rosendo Sandoval and his painting exhibition at Galeria 409 in downtown Brownsville. Jan 10, 2014

Painter Daniel Maldonado

Painter Daniel Maldonado teaches art classes to kids and adults at his studio in Brownsville, Texas. The place is filled with paintings that range from portraits to landscapes to abstract pieces. The paintings emanate a sense of nostalgia.

Special thanks to photographer Ben Briones his assistance in taking these images.

Brownsville Painter Daniel Maldonado

Brownsville painter Daniel Maldonado outside his studio and classroom. Dec 29, 2013

Brownsville Painter Daniel Maldonado

Brownsville painter Daniel Maldonado in his studio and art classroom. Dec 29, 2013

Brownsville Painter Daniel Maldonado

Brownsville painter Daniel Maldonado in his studio and art classroom. Dec 29, 2013

Brownsville Painter Daniel Maldonado

Brownsville painter Daniel Maldonado in his studio and art classroom. Dec 29, 2013

Painter Cande Aguilar

Cande Aguilar is a full-time artist from Brownsville, Texas whose art deals with contemporary national and regional issues. Mr. Aguilar draws inspiration from Brownsville as well as from Lego and Star Wars toys. The paintings are made using mixed media and they almost always feature vibrant colors. He has categorized the style as Barrio Pop, which is an interesting term that references Pop Art and Mexican culture.

Here’s what Cande says about Barrio Pop on his website:

#barrioPOP is an amalgamation sprung by characters, colors & street phenomena that is my life emerged in popular border town culture, expressed through multimedia such as painting, collage, photography, assemblage, digital collage, image transfer & music.

Check out more: http://candeart.com/home.html

Painter Cande Aguilar photographed in his studio in Brownsville, Texas. Oct 8, 2013

Brownsville Painter Cande Aguilar in his studio.

Painter Cande Aguilar playing the accordion at Galeria 409

Painter Cande Aguilar playing the accordion at Galeria 409 in downtown Brownsville. Photographed on May 26, 2013.

Painter Cande Aguilar in his studio

Painter Cande Aguilar Photographed in his studio in Brownsville, Texas. Oct 8, 2013

Roel Sandoval Flores presents his exhibition Cosechando Juntos

Roel Sandoval Flores is a self-taught artist from Weslaco, Texas. His works is based on personal experience working in the fields while listening to conjunto music. Mr. Flores has taken his paintings on the road to places like the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., Texas Folk Life in Austin, the University of Chicago among other places. Through his art, he hopes to inspire future generations of Rio Grande Valley natives to remember their cultural heritage.

Here, Flores poses for a picture during the opening reception of his exhibition entitled Cosechando Juntos. Photographed at the Weslaco Museum in Weslaco, Texas. Aug 24, 2013.

For more information about the artist, visit the blog Pharr from Heaven. My friend Eduardo Martinez wrote an extensive article on Mr. Flores’ life. I’d like to thank Eduardo for informing me about this event.

Tejano Artist Roel Sandoval Flores

Roel Sandoval Flores during the opening reception of his exhibition titled Harvesting Together at the Weslaco Museum on Aug 24, 2013.

Tejano Artist Roel Sandoval Flores

Roel Sandoval Flores during the opening reception of his exhibition titled Harvesting Together at the Weslaco Museum on Aug 24, 2013.

Chicana artist Celeste DeLuna

Celeste DeLuna describes herself as a Chicana Artist. The topics in her art deal with immigration, Rio Grande Valley border culture, Tejano symbols among others. I met with here at South Texas College Pecan Campus in McAllen to take photos for the installation of her exhibition: Nepantla: Art from the Four Corners of El Valle.

Chicana artist Celeste DeLuna

Chicana artist Celeste DeLuna setting up her exhibition at South Texas College Pecan Campus in McAllen, Texas on Aug 23, 2013.

Chicana artist Celeste DeLuna

Chicana artist Celeste DeLuna setting up her exhibition at South Texas College Pecan Campus in McAllen, Texas on Aug 23, 2013.