If you were to walk into a gallery and see my work, and someone was to ask you: Where do you think this artist is from? More than likely, you would answer: Texas. I paint about immigration at the US-Mexico border and mass shootings. What could be more Texan? I have tried to fit into the NYC art milieu for several years, and I simply do not belong. I get along with NYC. I get along with the art world and scenes here, but my work, my very ethos as an artist does not belong here. NYC does not feed my work properly. I feel cut off from what does feed my work, and so I return to Texas, full of enthusiasm, ready to tell a story about the failure of American empire from the very soil from which I think that failure is defined in the most contemporary, explosive, conflicting, unresolved and visceral terms.
I went to graduate school at UT Austin and lived in Texas for many years after. I found my footing as an artist driving around the desolate freeways of Texas photographing gas stations and strip malls and turning them into small lonely, empty, nearly minimalist oil paintings in graduate school. I found the real American story on those freeways of Texas; the story of blood, brutality, cruelty, capitalism gone mad, a vapid, endless landscape of strip malls and lonely souls, the “geography of nowhere” as it is called.
While I love NYC and will miss many things about it, this is not where my work belongs; it’s not my authentic journey into the American mind, the American empire, the great American lie and all its many social ills. I am on a mission to tell that story, to speak that truth, and that can only be found in my most authentic soil.
As Diego Rivera said:
“I know now that he who hopes to be universal in his art must plant in his own soil. Great art is like a tree, which grows in a particular place and has a trunk, leaves, blossoms, boughs, fruit, and roots of its own. The more native art is, the more it belongs to the entire world, because taste is rooted in nature.”
And so, I bid farewell to NYC and I move back to Texas, the most American of Americas, steeped in a culture of violence that to simply say the word “Texas” leaves the taste of blood in your mouth. I am heading to the frontline, so to speak, where my feet have their ground, "my own soil", where my heart finds its purpose, where I am called to make the most authentic and important work I can muster with these two hands directly "in the dirt" of it all, la frontera.