Full of Catholic iconography and elements of youth culture, Gaspar Enríquez’ portraits explore the bicultural, Chicano experience, “My subjects range in age, but most of them are students that I taught during my years at Bowie High School. They are people dealing with real issues that I built relationships with over the years and I wanted to portray the seriousness yet real way they dealt with their lives.”
Currently on display at The El Paso Museum of Art, Christian Gerstheimer, curator has successfully created an exhibition for one of the best-known Chicano artists in the region. Gaspar Enriquez: Metaphors of El Barrio features over 50 of the El Paso native’s paintings, prints and sculptures. “I’ve known of Enríquez’ work since 2003 and have been advocating for a retrospective for several years,” said Gerstheimer.
“I couldn’t believe that they would ask me to do a retrospective,” said Enriquez. “The fact that Michael Tormei and Christian Gerstheimer initiated this came as a complete surprise to me. It is a very humbling experience for me. One I would also like to thank the CommUNITY enACCION for supporting.”
Curating the exhibition was fairly easy for Gerstheimer because he said Enriquez was a very organized artist who provided him a list of collectors who owned his work. One of the most notable collectors of Enriquez’ work is actor Cheech Marin. “Cheech first noticed my work in a friend’s home in San Antonio and since has collected four of my paintings. I am surprised that so many collectors loaned their pieces. Art is a part of your family and to share in this exhibition means a lot to me,” said Enríquez.
This sentiment certainly rings true when it comes to the artist’s own opinion of his work. Enriquez said it’s impossible to favor one piece of art over another. “It’s like asking a parent which child is your favorite child, you just can’t do it,” said Enríquez.
Enríquez’s collection (presented by CommUNITY en Accion) entitled Metaphors of El Barrio can be seen at The El Paso Museum of Art in the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Gallery January 26 – May 11.