Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Gallery: Casa Arte De Sol

On Saturday, Nov. 11, the art gallery, Casa Arte De Sol, at the Second Saturday event featured various local and underground artists monthly; this week featured UTSA senior art major Maria J. Brown and UTSA graduate David Anthony Garcia. 

Casa Arte De Sol, owned by Petra Del Sol, is a 1930s home, now converted into a gallery.

“I came in and gave a lot of tenderness and care to the home,” Del Sol shared. “I made the two rooms the central gallery arch and brought in the lights, and the original flooring worked out perfectly.” 

Del Sol continued to brief the gallery. She added, “I got to meet the owners, the grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter who lived here 60 to 70 years. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed renovating and getting it established. It’s a part of history and a pleasure to be a part of it.”

Furthermore, Brown’s artwork was on display. Alongside being an art major at UTSA,

 Brown is also a San Antonio-based interdisciplinary artist in San Antonio, Texas, who derives her work from many traumatic experiences. Brown depicts her emotions with imagery and metaphors within her life and artistically expresses them in a personal narrative. 

“As a child in a kindergarten class, it was my favorite time of the day to do art,” Brown said. “We had these mini easels and many aprons, and I would paint my mother every class. My entire walls were filled with portraits of my mom, and later, we ended up separated. There was a divorce, and then there was some abuse.” 

This led Brown to immerse herself as a daydreamer and seek comfort in the control and fantasy of art, all while finding and creating in-depth interpretations of parts of her story.  

“I continued with that type of romanticism my entire life, for example, with the Pearl necklace. I paint pearls often because I feel like pearls are like my soul and hidden inside this ugly shell, so the oyster collects the dirt around her. And from the earth, she creates a precious gem. But no one can find the treasure unless they seek it out.”

Brown further explained the symbolism within her artwork, now focusing on interpreting her use of the serpent and individual pills in her oil paintings and ceramics.

“What I love most about snakes is their biblical reference to temptation,” Brown shared. “I feel the serpent is demonized and associated with women, which I find ironic. Women are scared of birthgivers. They are mothers. In ways, I represent myself as a serpent.”

Now progressing, Brown falls into the flow of her mental health and the literal, as well as metaphoric interpretation of her struggles, not to mention her advocacy for those seeking help and taking medication.    

“I’ve been prescribed medications, which have been beneficial to me. They helped me clear my head space and focus on creativity as opposed to sadness and depression. So, I’m embracing that journey right now.”

 The artist even explains how she achieves interesting textures within her paintings, sharing that she collects the hair from her hairbrush and applies it on the canvas with paint, leading to a unique surface. 

Then, it brought her attention to the oil painting of the two skeletons in the room, holding each other in one another’s arms. 

“I’ ‘ve never seen a healthy and loving relationship between us,” Brown said. “Every relationship I’ve seen has been like an internal twist relationship. So, I romanticized the idea that people can live and die together. It’s almost a dream to me that that would even be a possibility. So these two people were found buried together, which I thought was symbolic of living a life together but also dying together, and then the story continues with the remains of their bones. So, skeletons tell a story because they’re the frameworks of our bodies, which is interesting. After all, that’s what’s left. The remnants of us. This one I did after my dad died. And this was the first time that I did pearl referencing. It was 2019, and my dad had just passed away. It was a hugely traumatic experience for me.”

Nonetheless, alongside Maria, David Anthony Garcia, a local artist for several decades, states that he has a few series he is most pleased with, one featured at Casa Arte De Sol. Garcia and Brown have collaborated in his collection of casting faces; Brown’s face is in his collection. Yet what differentiates the two is their unique style of surrealism and abstraction. 

“My painting series is spontaneous but simultaneously meticulous,” Garcia said. “A lot of abstract art is kind of random, splashy art. But I have highly detailed work, so I’ll spend hours working on mazes and using a tiny paintbrush to paint small details. Still, most of my work is about integration, like merging styles to make one good composition. So, I’ll do a free-flowing design and pattern and layer various kinds together.  I’ll spend hours on a piece just doing line by line, but it’s become second nature. I’ve been doing it for so long that my hands have gotten too used to the repetition. Many people think the result is pre-planned, but it’s not. It’s just accessible and flowing. Then, the masks series, I’ve been doing a series for several years now, and I’ll cast people’s faces who lay on a table and allow me to put plaster on their faces. And then, after about 11 to 15 minutes and some trust, I’ll have a cast of their face, and then I use slip to create a shell, and what comes out is an exact copy of their face with every detail, and then I’ve incorporated those onto canvases and then did the similar painting style. I’m excited to have a show at the San Antonio main library in June or mid-June 2024. And I’m going to fill that gallery with purchases. I taught elementary school for about 24 years. So, I will have my fourth and fifth graders design a white mask based on their favorite library book. Oh, so I’ll have about 200 of those and put them on panels in the center of that gallery. So I’m excited to have them involved because it’s the main library and their favorite library book.” 

Overall, the gallery will be open until Dec. 8, but ultimately, the collection will be featured in future exhibitions in the San Antonio area; keep an eye out for more artists at the Casa Arte De Sol and the work of artists Brown and Garcia.

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About the Contributor
Samantha Ysaguirre, Staff Writer
Hi, I am Samantha Ysaguirre. My pronouns are she/they. I am obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art specializing in drawing and am a Junior at The University of Texas at San Antonio. I have written for the Paisano for four months, exploring Art and poetry. A few interests outside the two involve reading and practicing contemporary dance.

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