By Dr. Ricardo Romo
Raul Gonzalez began drawing at the age of six, but never thought that a path existed for him becoming an artist until viewing 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 in his hometown of Houston noticed his talents and encouraged him to enter art competitions. Gonzalez’ creativity and hard work was rewarded when he won a local Congressional competition as a senior in high school.
Gonzalez’ 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 that he had yet to master. Thus he decided to pursue more training.
He enrolled at UTSA with growing artistically in mind. While at UTSA, he was mentored by professors Connie Lowe, Dennis Olson, Ron Brinkman, Ricky Armendariz, and Kent Rush. Moving to San Antonio to attend UTSA had an added dimension: meeting some of the Latino artists that 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 Espanpas
exhibition which 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 tool box is colorfully portrayed on a discarded masonry block.
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 chosen for the La Prensa cover, 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.
Ricardo Romo [Photo credits: Raul Gonzalez]