One of the earliest memories I have is finger-painting in my grandmother’s kitchen in Hialeah when I was maybe four years old. This hands-on discovery was my first real experience with the arts. My elementary school art teacher helped to nurture and encourage my interest in remaining creative. Her rigorous German attitude coupled with a brash and straightforward intellect provided the charm needed to draw me right in. She was my first critic as well as a adamant supporter. By the age of ten, I had moved past the formal confines of figurative drawing studies to chase crumbling paint on neighborhood bridges, underpasses, abandoned warehouses and train yards throughout the Miami area. Twelve years later when I visited New York for the first time, I begin to embrace the fine arts again when I visited the many cultural institutions and museums. After permanently moving to NYC in 2004, I landed a job at a large commercial gallery (that focused on graffiti art) serving as assistant, admirer and confidant to all artists and patrons who graced our doors. My crash course in the art world at Deitch Projects was a vital lesson and a true turning point in myearly career as an artist.
Upon returning to finish college studies, I completed an BA in Painting with a minor in Art Education. Through these foundation courses, I began to define my own style. With the encouragement, support and guidance of my wife, I completed a Master’s in Special Education to diversify my learning experience. I was finally starting to think outside of the confines of the white gallery box. Hired by a middle/high school in the East New York section of Brooklyn with the NYC Department of Education, I made the transition from the street to studio and back into a classroom as seamless as possible. Recently, I was given the opportunity to teach high school Studio Art and look forward to writing this new chapter as I further develop my artworks in the studio and out on the streets.
Growing up in Miami, I spent just about every weekend at my Abuela’s house. I loved hanging around her sewing room, surrounded by the floral prints and motifs of her favorite textiles as well as the cardboard sheets used to create patterns for the dresses and clothes she made. The colors, shapes and textures were so exciting to me as a child. My Abuela had been a pattern maker for Lanvin in the 1950’s and moved to New York City for a year; just long enough to earn some money to bring her family from Cuba back to the United States.
I wasn’t able to attend college and study art until I was almost 30 years old. Prior to that I was basically a self-taught artist. I dropped out of high school and I painted on the streets, you could say that my early education was found in the derelict buildings and abandoned warehouses that dotted seldom used train tracks across Miami. These spaces provided almost unlimited areas to create and although I wasn’t in the classroom, those experiences carved my existence as an artist into being. Daydreaming and using my imagination became an integral part of my working process.
Now as a Visual Arts Teacher in the New York City public school system with an advanced degree in Special Education, I inform my students of these important techniques needed to find their inner artist. When I see young scholars abandoned works or work in a series, I nurture and encourage this as part of their practice.
I work with middle and high school students in East New York. Some of these underserved youth have never had an art class during their elementary school years and have not had the opportunity to visit an art gallery, museum or organization. Learning the value, power and importance of their own voice opens new doors for these young students and encourages them to never be content following the status quo.