By DAVID LOPEZ
Special to the NEWS
Warriors, pyramids, jaguars, serpents…these are some of the images and symbols found in Andy A. Villareal’s work, soon to be exhibited at the San Benito Cultural Arts Museum.
Running from February 6 to March 20, Indigenous Warriors & Rituals of Mesoamerica is an exhibit that satisfies the eye’s desire for vibrant colors, almost psychedelic in its portrayal. The exhibit is composed of about thirty grandiose paintings, some painted on traditionally stretched canvas while the majority is made to fit into organically shaped pieces of board.
Andy Villareal is an artist from San Antonio, currently teaching art at the University of the Incarnate Word.
He obtained his Bachelor’s in Area Drawing and Painting in 1978 from Corpus Christi State University and his Master’s of Fine Arts from Arizona State University in 1983. He has been teaching on and off for 30 years, instructing in art disciplines ranging from drawing, painting, design, art appreciation, abstract, mixed media, landscape, and so on.
“I knew since I was a kid that I was going to be an artist,” he said. “A lot of times kids say things about what they want to be and lose interest, but I didn’t.”
Villareal’s work has been featured in over 50 one-person exhibitions and several hundreds of art shows in Texas and out-of-state, including New York and California, and internationally, including Mexico and Italy.
Now his work, which focuses on Mexican indigenous culture, is to be displayed for the first time in San Benito.
Luis Contreras, San Benito Cultural Arts Director, said his department works to bring residents and visitors a chance to experience history, culture, music, and art in an authentic way. “Andy Villarreal’s work provides an insight into a mysterious history stemming from Central Mexico. One that many would consider the generations of today to be long disconnected from. This exhibit, however, brings educational value to the community – reconnecting us at some level,” he said.
Villareal says he has been traveling to the Rio Grande Valley from San Antonio consistently for the past six years and has grown to love the area.
“I am very honored to be here, with the people here. The Valley has geographic importance because of its proximity to Mexico, which is where my art takes its influence. I like its change of pace compared to San Antonio, and I feel like the people here are really genuine,” he said.
Although Villareal has been painting Mesoamerican interpretations for over twenty years, much of his artwork for the Cultural Heritage Museum was made specifically for this exhibit, though he says a few of the pieces are over 10 years old.
“Mesoamerica is all I’m doing right now because it’s our heritage. I’ve been to the Louvre in France, and that’s all good but that’s their art. yet when I go to the grounds in Chichen Itza, there’s a lot of energy there that is unmatchable.”
The public is invited to Gallery Talk with Indigenous Warriors & Rituals of Mesoamerica artist Andy Villarreal on Saturday, February 22 at 10 a.m.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2020 issue of the NEWS.