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art by Ricky Armendariz
Painting by Ricky Armendariz

UTSA hosts painting exhibit by Ricky Armendariz

By Tim Brownlee
Assistant Director of Public Affairs

(Jan. 19, 2006)--UTSA President Ricardo Romo and Dr. Harriett Romo will host the opening of "Confessions of a Singin' Vaquero," a painting exhibit by Ricky Armendariz, UTSA assistant professor of art and 1995 B.F.A. alumnus, from 6 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, Suite 116, Alamo and Probandt streets in downtown San Antonio.

The exhibit can be viewed through March 13 from noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday.

"Singin' Vaquero" (or cowboy) is Armendariz' first solo exhibition and is only the third solo exhibition ever presented in the Blue Star main gallery. It is the first exhibit at the venue with both an Hispanic artist and curator. UTSA art specialist Arturo Almeida curated the project.

The works are based on conjunto and 1980s music and the "dichos," or familiar sayings, that Armendariz heard as he grew up in the border community of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. The mixing of Hispanic and Anglo cultures in the region produced unique music, language and foods, according to Armendariz. He begins his works with a painting of a sunrise or sunset and adds a dicho in the form of cowboy-style song lyrics.

"I was brought up with the idea of 'catching more flies with honey than vinegar,' and that is a big part of my art," said Armendariz. "I learned that you can convey a racially or socially charged message by orchestrating the visuals and text in such a way as to be inclusive. You try to invite people to relate to the work and work a little to understand it and ask questions -- without vilifying anyone."

The lyrics in the art pieces, which were written by the artist, have contemporary influences from the music of Los Blazers, Jesse Dayton, Wayne "The Train" Hancock and Dwight Yoakum. Classic influences came from artists including Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Flaco Jimenez and Freddie Fender.

The text and other visual aspects of the work were influenced by the humor of Latino comedians George Lopez, John Leguizamo and Paul Rodriguez, and the work of text artists Ed Ruscha and Barbara Krueger.

Addditionally, Armendariz cites artists William Turner, Frederick Remington, Carol Walker, Carmen Lomes Garza, Sandy Skogland, Eric Fischel and Ed Paschke as strong influences on his body of work.

"I want to thank President Romo, Arturo Almeida and Blue Star director Bill FitzGibbons for their support in arranging this exhibit," said Armendariz. "And I couldn't have done it without the support of my wife, children, family and the UTSA faculty and staff."

For more information, contact Bill FitzGibbons, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center executive director, at (210) 227-6960.

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