Paintings from the Daily Life of a UCLA Alumnus on Display in the San Antonio Gallery


Ana Fernandez and her “chili queens” cook Tex-Mex food at her San Antonio food truck, Chamoy City Limits.

The truck also became a source of inspiration for Fernandez’s paintings.

Although Chamoy City Limits started out as a simple business venture for Fernandez, the artist and alumnus said she eventually began to see a connection between her art and the culinary heritage she championed with her food truck. . Selling food and documenting culture, Fernandez said she feels her business builds relationships with others while functioning as an art form – she paints views specific to her hometown of San Antonio, in Texas. Fernandez is exhibiting his work at the Cinnabar Gallery in San Antonio until June 17 and will also participate in an international artist residency program at Artpace, an art gallery in San Antonio, in the fall.

“I feel like it’s really embedded in my culture, in that I provide the food and photograph people eating it,” Fernandez said. “I paint the customers who come in my truck and eat my food, so it comes full circle. “

When Fernandez returned to San Antonio after living in Los Angeles for 10 years, she said she realized the drastic under-representation of small town art venues. Fernandez said the landscapes she painted in Los Angeles all looked familiar, in large part because the city appears as a popular backdrop for Hollywood productions. In San Antonio, she found a rarer beauty in the hand-painted signs of mom-and-pop boutiques lining the streets.

Therefore, Fernandez focused on painting little Latino– owned businesses like his. Object allowed Fernandez to achieve a level of privacy in his art that his cityscape portrayal couldn’t provide, she said.

“Some people misread my art and think it’s about gentrification or things that go away,” Fernandez said. “I see it more as a celebration capturing something in full bloom, like a flourishing business.”

Fernandez’s painting “Raspa Kids”, currently on display at the Cinnabar Gallery, shows neighborhood children savoring raspas, or snow cones, that Fernandez sold to them from his food truck. After asking their mothers for permission, Fernandez took pictures of the children and then referenced them for her painting, which is how she said she usually starts her job. The painting uses as a reference an unposed image of children zoning out while eating their raspas. The way the light plays on the characters creates a Caravaggio feel, she said.

Fernandez said she applies different symbolic levels to her paintings: an accessible level that only requires an understanding of the literal meaning, and a more symbolic level that painters can appreciate. Véronique Le Melle, former executive director of Artpace, said Fernandez subtly incorporated aspects of her under-represented past into her work.

“One of my favorite pieces (‘Pool Necklace’) shows a family in a community pool, and when you look at the painting, you immediately know that one of the little girls is actually (Fernandez),” Le said. Miss. . “She has such an ability to take local and culturally important themes to her and elevate the work in a way that it truly becomes a commentary.”

The vivid realism of Fernandez’s work makes it easy for the viewer to understand the neighborhoodIt’s chronic, said Le Melle. In Fernandez’s painting “La Gardenia”, two people in a restaurant drink from plastic foam cups, seated in a cramped cubicle with a gray cityscape reflected in the window.

“Even though her topic is San Antonio right now, these kinds of relationships are happening all over the world,” said Susan Heard, owner of the Cinnabar Gallery. “You don’t have to be in San Antonio to relate to ‘La Gardenia’ because it’s just two people around a plate of food.”

Ultimately, Fernandez said she aimed to paint scenes from the everyday lives of people who rarely see themselves portrayed in art or the media. In 2012, Fernandez took to a street in her neighborhood and created a series of watercolors based on the houses and cars she saw. Later at the gallery, she said she saw a young man stand in awe when he realized Fernandez had painted his own house on Banks Street.

Fernandez said she aims to instill a sense of astonishment in all of her viewers just by painting the places she eats and the backyard parties she attends. Fernandez said that for many, his paintings provide a window into their own lives, which rarely appears on museum walls.

“Art can make people feel a little different about their home or their restaurant, because it’s now the subject of a painting,” Fernandez said. “Having said that, we have something of value in our community that someone sees the beauty of, even if it’s just a hand painted sign.”


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