Armando’s Sanchez’ “Romo’s Quality Food Store” was completed over ten years ago when Sanchez was engaged in painting oil and watercolor images of small businesses of San Antonio’s Westside. The Romo store image is from a 1949 photograph of the store on Guadalupe Street. Sanchez’s other paintings included grocery stores, ice houses, taverns, and bakeries owned by San Antonio Mexican Americans.
Armando grew up loving to draw and sketch and recalls that as a child in elementary school his teachers would ask him to use his drawing skills for holiday events.
The family left their Southside home in the mid-1950s when his father, a skilled mechanic, found a job at the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan. To supplement the family income, Armando and his siblings worked in the fields picking crops.
After three years in Michigan, Armando returned home and enrolled at Burbank High School. One teacher noticed his art skills, in particular, his excellent lettering,
and suggested that Armando work in the design and creative arts field.
Sanchez left high school before his senior year and took a job at a local sign shop. Not satisfied with just his lettering skills, he taught himself to draw and paint, gaining skills to begin painting murals in bars and restaurants. In the early 1970s, he met Jorge Cortez and Lionel Sosa who helped shape and influence his development as a painter.
In the early 1960s, Sanchez accepted a position with Randolph Air Force Base. At Randolph, he was assigned the task of painting portraits of the commanders as well as creating paintings of the aircraft for the Commander’s Headquarters.
He left the Randolph Base position to work with the public relations firm owned by Lionel Sosa. While working for the Sosa firm, he met Jorge Cortez, then CEO of Mi Tierra Restaurant, and began a lifelong friendship with him.
In 1970 Cortez commissioned Sanchez to paint a Zapata portrait which became the icon for the restaurant.
Sanchez’s Zapata image graces the aprons and tee shirts at Mi Tierra which are sold in the thousands annually.
Sanchez is best known as a watercolorist, but his outdoor and indoor murals at Mi Tierra and Pico de Gallo are highly admired by the San Antonio community.
One prominent mural at Pico de Gallo features the famous Mexican singer Jorge Negrete. An indoor mural at the same restaurant is dedicated to the Rosie Castro family and also captures more than one hundred prominent San Antonio personalities.
Today Sanchez teaches art in his home studio and continues to paint murals with historical themes. His colorful watercolor portraits are especially popular in many restaurants around San Antonio.