Preoccupations: An exhibit on DIY valley culture


Pictured is one of Valadez’s paintings for his upcoming exhibit, Preoccupations, at the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum.

Driving through any city in the Rio Grande Valley, one will see countless signs of Mexican restaurants, Mexican or Tex-Mex food at corner stores, or Mexican food trucks cruising through neighborhoods.

This is the culture that Paul Valadez, Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, wished to celebrate in his upcoming exhibit, Preoccupations.

The exhibit runs from June 18 until August 7 at the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, located at 250 East Heywood Street.

Valadez, who says he has been making art since he can remember, admitted that his many Preoccupations pieces came as a result of the lockdown.

“During the lockdown, all these restaurants closed, and as soon as you can’t have something, you want it more,” he said.

Many of his pieces depict the Valley’s “DIY spirit,” as Valadez calls it.

Originally from Stockton, California, Valadez moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 2004 and fell in love with the “do-it-yourself” attitude of the locals.

“So really, it’s a response to this area, to the incredibly optimistic spirit that one can get around their situation,” he said. “It doesn’t make the people here ashamed; it makes them proud.”

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 June 19-25, 2020 issue of the NEWS.

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