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The El Paso Museum of Art announces "Gaspar Enríquez: Metaphors of El Barrio"
Gaspar Enriquez (American, b. 1942), Luis y la Virgen de Guadalupe, 1986. Airbrushed acrylic on masonite. Gift of Martini de Groat and the Southwest Bell Foundation Collection of El Paso Museum of Art.
EL PASO, TX.- After more than thirty years working as an artist Gaspar Enríquez is at last being recognized as one of El Paso’s most respected and hardest working artists. Gaspar Enríquez: Metaphors of El Barrio presented by CommUNITY en Acción presents artwork from throughout Enríquez’s career assembled from collections in El Paso, Texas and throughout the United States.

Enríquez is often identified as “the quintessential Chicano Texas artist,” although it would be correspondingly just as correct to describe him as an American, portrait painter who blends realism with contemporary popular culture. Nevertheless, one could easily go down a list counting off the significant series of artworks and other accomplishments of Enríquez’s career: the wearable and the book-like metal objects of the La Familia series, the black and white full-figure portraits of the En la Esquina series, the artist portraits and metal heart icons of the Puro Corazon series, the publication of the twelve paintings of the Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez series. The list goes on but, does not even mention the artist’s involvement with numerous mural projects throughout El Paso, the years contributed as president of the Juntos Art Association or the three decades teaching art at Bowie High School.

Enríquez’s art has been continually admired, exhibited and collected because it is serious, real and confronts relevant issues. His subjects range from children to teenagers, from artists to everyday persons and typically depict persons from El Barrio, where the artist grew up. The slice of culture that Enríquez explores includes many details about the importance of traditions, family and identity in Mexican-American life. Integrating the iconography of youth culture, and Catholic and pre-Columbian religious simultaneously Enríquez subtly critiques/examines the bicultural, Chicano experience.

Even after retiring from teaching art Enríquez continues to balance numerous complex projects simultaneously. For example, for the last several years Enríquez has been deeply involved in the restoration of an ancient adobe building into studio spaces in the 400-year-old presidio of San Elizario in El Paso's Mission Valley. And since 2012 Enríquez has been busy completing numerous sketches and several large portrait paintings as part of a commission for the new El Paso Baseball Stadium.

In addition to including over fifty paintings, prints and sculptures from 1983 - 2013 Gaspar Enríquez: Metaphors of El Barrio also includes a video interview with the artist and a book of the same title with texts by Constance Cortez, Ruben Cordova, Christian Gerstheimer, Benito Huerta and Lucy Lippard. Enríquez’s art has been included in many exhibitions throughout his career such as: CARA/ Chicano Art/Resistance and Affirmation 1965-1985, Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, Arte Caliente: Works from the Joe Diaz Collection and Infinite Mirror: Images of American Identity.





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February 10, 2014

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