The nationally renowned expressionist painter Jose Luis Rodriquez completed his art education in Nyssa Mexico and then moved to Ontario at age eighteen, he later moved to Boise Idaho where he founded the Art Attack Gallery with his friend David Alrihart.
The two artists successfully brought together a collection of Western artists that traveled to various museums all across the country. He now resides in Seattle Washington.
This collection of Jose’s work has a distinct feeling of transcendence, capturing the figures in an otherworldly place between this reality and the next. Magical elements seem to have imbued these pieces with an essence of spirit, a rising up, giving the viewer a feeling of reverence. There are stories told here, of a mystical journey, a crossing into the dream world, a shaman’s vision, the moment when the heavens embrace the soul. Jose’s art is like a glimpse into a special state of grace that we all yearn for.
Q: For How Long Have You Been An Artist? Please, tell us a little about your chosen medium.
A: I began making art when I was seven years old but I made the decision to Be an artist in my mid twenties, forty years professionally. I am primarily a painter, I also do sculpture in bronze, wood, and plastics; and I am a print maker as well.
A: As a painter, I am self taught, I also attended Boise State University where I learned the art of melting metals, making sculpture in bronze, and welding. In addition, I made sculpture in wood, stone and plastics. I attended classes on printmaking and discoverd the alchemy of printmaking such as lithographs, etchings, aquatints.
However, the best training has been in the process of making the art, and pursuing the opportunities and experiences with the sculpture studios in Europe and printmaking shops in USA and Mexico.
I must add that in the beginning of my career after many disappointments and rejections that occurred in competitions I almost decided to give up, but by luck or a turn of fate I was invited, and later accepted, to participate in a national art competition sponsored by The Western States Arts Foundation, associated with The Brooklyn Museum and The National Endowment for The Arts. The exhibition included a selection of the best artists from the western part USA; artists that deserved national attention, this included nineteen Western States, and eight hundred artist nominations. One hundred art studios were selected and visited by the museum curator Charlotta Kotik, to finally choose forty three artists. The selected artists were rewarded with a two-year National Traveling Group Exhibition. The opening ceremony happened at the Brooklyn Museum, in New York. That exposure later generated several corporate-sponsored museum exhibitions. Now with more than twenty museums in my portfolio and more than one hundred art institutions such as colleges, universities and alternative small museums rewarded me with local, national and international exhibitions of my personal art projects. These were all created with my own efforts over forty years. This experience was ultimately the best training: A life training experience!
Q: What Inspires your Creations?
A:The art for art’s sake, art history, art movements, the masters, alchemy, light, fire, water, landscape, music, dance, movement, people, human behavior, beauty, and love.
Q: Was your family supportive of your artistic endeavors?
A: No, but they never opposed it either.
Q: Is there someone special who has encouraged your work and your path as an artist?
A: Not just someone, in my case, many people indirectly you could say; teachers, curators, art directors, artists, friends, and ultimately collectors who are the best encouragement.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams of future goals?
A: Actually, I have been working on my art book; my lifework experience, cataloging my paintings, sculptures and other works on paper as well as my artistic and historical life. Secondly, I am finishing a proposal for interested corporations and art institution sponsorship: For a one-man showcase of my art work. An exhibition-project to travel nationally and internationally; encouraged by the invitations from museums, art directors and governmental art authorities. Generated by years of traveling abroad, collecting public relationships specifically in Mexico, USA, and Europe. And last but not least, I wish to create a small museum in my community with the help of all the necessary professionals such as architects, lawyers, fundraisers, and donors.
Q: If you could do any project with full funding, what would it be?
A: The logistics and cost of an international one man show exhibition as I mentioned on the last question; A showcase to museums in Mexico, USA, and Europe. The funding by a corporate, organizations and art institutions who can have an interest for an international platform, exposure, public relations with businesses, corporations and governmental authorities, providing a cultural international exchange at the highest level.
And of course we need an “Art Space” I’d like to raise the funding for the Museum; where art exhibitions, art collections and art education will be possible; helping to develop the next generation of artists who will enrich our communities.
Q: If you could meet an artist who is no longer living, who would it be and why?
A: Just one? How about a handful? well: It would be the artist sculptor Ed Kienholz, a friend who I never had the opportunity to say good bye. I visited him once a year seventeen years ago, he visited me only three times: once when he was alive he came to visit me in my studio with Nancy his wife to support a Sam Francis exhibition in my gallery in Boise; The second time he visit me in a dream a few days after he had died; and the third time many years later in a second dream that occurred in my studio in Seattle where we conversed about art for a long time.
And there are a handful of other artists: the masters such as Picasso, Diego Rivera, Goya Caravaggio and Velazquez. Because they have had the greatest influence on my work.
Q: Tell us about your ghostly elements in your art.
A: My ghostly elements which I paint are from a higher dimension and not from the realm of the dead. Or lower realms. My apparition beings are from a higher plane of existence, they are appearing to save us from ourselves.
Q: Have these sort of haunting themes always been of interest to you?
A: The haunting theme you are referring to, are The Human Condition Today! We all are part of it. It is my artistic point of view, through personal experience, my subconscious mind and observations. Sadly they are haunting themes. We are living in very dangerous times, in the shadow of a nuclear war which is very real. We are becoming alienated, which could lead to genocide. It is my human responsibility and interest, “whether I like it or not”, to point out such haunting themes, it is my artistic expression to bring it to the light. The Human Condition today! Perhaps we all are ghosts already!
Q: Have you ever seen a ghost?
A: No, I have not seen one I heard them but I know they do visit me in my dreams and in my dreams I can see them and recognize them without fear and have long conversations with them. A lot of us can only see them this way but people confuse this with regular basic dreams when actuality they have come to visit us.
Q: Do you have a favorite ghost story?
A: Of course! If you have the time. Back in the mid 70’s I had a studio in Boise, Idaho. It was an old house divided into two spaces, I was renting one side and Steve Martinez, a new friend, was renting the other side; Steve did not believe in ghosts but in his part of the space, in the upper level he had a home attic where at night we could hear noises. One day Steve late at night was a little drunk while half asleep, from his bedside, he saw a little girl playing with a ball on the stairs of his kitchen to the attic above. He thought she might be my daughter. I had no kids in those days. He did not think much about it and went back to sleep. Steve would later experience many incidents like this.
Not too long after, a dear friend teacher and colleague, the poet Abelardo “Lalo” Delgado, writer and professor at The University of Colorado, PhD in philosophy and great visionary. Was hired to help us in our non-profit organization which was rapidly growing and we needed his expertise.
He was famous and eccentric, being a poet it was expected of him. That summer I managed to paint a portrait of him. That painting later helped me open the doors to the museum in Boise, ID. Lalo and I became good friends for life such that he did not like to stay in lonely hotels and wanted to move in with us. My wife Gloria we were just married and not much fond of Lalo’s wishes, but an idea
came when our next door neighbor Steve was getting ready for a month vacation in Hawaii. I took the opportunity to borrow Steve’s space for my friend Lalo. It all worked out!
A few weeks passed. Gloria and I used to drive back home every weekend to visit our parents about fifty miles away and return back to our place every Sunday evening, one Sunday on our return, Lalo was waiting for us on the porch of the old house, I noticed he was anxious to ask me a question, he wanted to meet the family who lives in the attic; Disconcerted I asked why? he responded, “well I hear them at night, the kids are running all the time and the family all very active; I just want to meet them and to let them know that I will be staying here. I do not want them to think that I am a stranger or a dangerous person. In case I come late one evening I didn’t want to scare them, especially the kids”. I didn’t say anything! There was no family in the attic that I knew. Thinking practically I thought maybe a homeless family was using the space at night, but it was useless, there was no such luck. The only entrance to the upper attic was through the kitchen side. This was the real thing, and I knew it! Lalo I asked, do you really want to know the family upstairs? He answered yes! I said, well if you insist. I decided to play the mystery. I walked towards the direction of my tool box and got a hammer, walked in the direction of the kitchen where the only entrance of the attic’s upper level was located. It was closed with a piece of wood instead of a real door. There has never been a door in that entrance. Taking out the 2 long nails with my hammer I removed the piece of wood and held it in my hands and put it to the side. I walked towards the upstairs as Lalo followed just behind me.
As I got to the middle of the attic I opened my arms and said, “Dear family let’s get together and meet my friend Lalo, ‘Followed up by an extension of my right hand and I said Lalo, meet the family that lives here!”… When Lalo saw the empty attic and no family, I only remember his big eye’s expression as he turned around and walked down as fast as he could and promptly gathered his things from the room where he was staying. He walked away getting himself a room in a hotel close by. I’ve laughed as I have told the story many times. This was no laughing matter for Lalo. I have learned to be sensitive of Lalo’s feelings. And some people don’t take this matter lightly.
Many years later I ran into Steve and he said to me. “You know Jose, I never believed in ghosts but now I do!”. Steve mentioned many other incidents and experiences but I have no time tell them at this point. For myself, I lived in that house for 5 years and I have never seen a ghost, I may have heard something in deep sleep but that’s it!