Raul Rene Gonzalez is a self-described
multidisciplinary artist who creates art by using a multitude of mediums and methods. While he favors painting, he is highly productive in drawings, sculptures, clothing, murals,
and installations. His artistic versatility includes live and recorded dance and other performance-based work. Last year he was selected as San Antonio Museum of Art’s inaugural artists-in-residence for 2021. His paintings that document key features of San Antonio’s musical history now have a permanent home in City Hall.
Gonzalez grew up in Houston, Texas, and began drawing at the age of six. As a teen, he never thought that a path existed for him to become an artist until he viewed the film “Blood In Blood Out,” a 1993 crime drama that featured the work of San Antonio artist, Adan Hernandez. Gonzalez was fourteen years old when he saw the movie, and he instantly connected with one of the featured characters whose painting talents enabled him to sell his art in prestigious Los Angeles galleries.
High school teachers noticed his talents and encouraged him to enter art competitions. Gonzalez’s creativity and hard work were rewarded when he won a local Congressional competition as a senior in high school.
Gonzalez’s training in the arts took him to Washington University in St. Louis, Houston Community Colleges, the University of Houston, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. At the University of Houston, Professor David Hickman encouraged him to add painting to his skill set.
After finishing his art education at the University of Houston, Gonzalez joined the Art Collective in Houston which introduced him to artists from numerous European and Latin American countries. As part of that group, over several years he worked with nearly 60 artists. He enjoyed the Art Collective and learned from his
involvement with the international artists that art had many dimensions he had yet to master. Thus he decided to pursue additional training.
He enrolled at UTSA with growing artistically in mind. While at UTSA, he was mentored by professors Connie Lowe, Dennis Olson, Ron Binks, Ricky Armendariz, and Kent Rush. Moving to San Antonio to attend UTSA had an added dimension: meeting some of the Latino artists he
admired. Gonzalez made a point of contacting Cesar Martinez whose work he had followed for many years.
Gonzalez arrived in San Antonio only a few years after the Chicano Visions exhibit opened at the San Antonio Museum of Art and at a time when the McNay Museum of Contemporary Art was considering the design of their famed Estampas de la Raza exhibit. Gonzalez was one of many San Antonians to view the Estampas exhibition that included Texas artists Vincent Valdez, Alex Rubio, Sam Coronado, Luis Jimenez, and Cesar Martinez.
Gonzalez often paints images of construction sites and workers in this industry. His dad worked his whole life as a construction laborer, and Gonzalez has an affinity for the skills and equipment needed in this work. In recent self-portraits, he is shown teaching his daughter skills common to construction workers. Gonzalez uses materials commonly found at construction sites in his work. A painting of his daughter hammering at what appears to be a wooden toolbox is colorfully portrayed on a discarded masonry block.
Gonzalez notes in his bio that the experiences of living in Houston and San Antonio influenced much of his work. Over the past decade, he has produced creative works that “detailed urban landscapes that pay homage to the workers who build and maintain our cities.” Several years ago I was drawn to his paintings, intrigued by his handling of geometric abstractions. He is known for his use of bright colors, which his wife K.C. Gonzalez, a writer,
“refers to as bold colors that draw the viewer and bring a sense of energy to each piece.”
Gonzalez has a studio in his home where he spends time drawing and painting and also caring for his children as a stay-at-home-dad. In a painting completed during the height of the pandemic in 2020, he is seated on a chair bottle-feeding a young baby while his pre-school daughter stands nearby with a paintbrush in hand ready to begin her art piece.