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'Latino Faces' Pop-Art Exhibit Opens In San Antonio

Finding the Art Legacy Gallery in San Antonio is a challenge. Located at 18503 Sigma, it’s in the lobby of a strip mall with no signage declaring its existence.

But upon entering, you’re greeted by a Warhol-inspired, pop-art portrait of an older man sticking out his tongue. What’s most striking is his bright pink tongue and blue shirt. Everything else is gray. That’s famed author Gabriel García Márquez.

Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio
Frida Kahlo, vector illustration on brushed aluminum, by Analy Diego

You also are greeted by two Frida Kahlo portraits. You might not realize it at first, but Frida’s brows are familiarly bushy in one, but plucked cleanly above the nose in the other.

These are just a few works featured in the Latino Faces exhibition by San Antonio interior designer and graphic designer Analy Diego.

Diego doesn’t put pen, pencil, or brush to canvas to create these bright, arresting images. She simply unfolds her laptop. She calls this type of art “vector art.”

“Some people use a mouse, I use a stylus pen,” Diego said. “A lot of people might consider it to be the newest type of art, but it’s been around for a while. I think it can adapt to many mediums, which is great, many substrates. It can be done in many sizes. It can really adapt to many formats.”

Diego works with existing photographs to create her images. She uses the photos as a starting point, then inspiration takes over.

“I am a big fan of color and high contrast of color,” she said. “… My art looks very Warhol-inspired, and he is definitely one of my main inspirations.”

Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio
Eva Perón, vector Illustration on brushed aluminum

Diego’s portrait of former Argentine first lady Eva Perón is a prime example of how she uses color. The background is a deep teal, and Perón’s high-saturated red lip and blonde hair stand out in the portrait.  

“When I was researching for the right image to use as a reference, most of her images are in black and white,” she said. “… I wanted her to pop.”

And among the other familiar faces of Selena, the San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginóbili, and soccer star Pelé, are a couple of less familiar portraits.

One is of 85-year-old French-born Mexican journalist Elena Poniatowska, who is thoughtfully smiling at you while cradling her face in her hands. And the other, directly to Poniatowska’s left, is Mexican realist painter and muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, wearing a bright red shirt, and pointing right at you, as if singling you out in the gallery.

And further down the hall, tucked away in a corner by a fire alarm, are visionary fashion designers Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.

Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio
David Alfaro Siqueiros, vector illustration on brushed aluminum, by Analy Diego

You may notice that many of the subjects of the 33-year-old artist’s portraits are above a certain age.

“I’ve always enjoyed hanging out with older people and my grandparents,” Diego said. “I would always touch their (faces) because I would find their wrinkles so interesting. It’s the same when I draw. I really like to draw older people because they have so much detail. It kind of shows the journey they’ve been through.”

Adriana Cisneros, director of the Art Legacy Gallery and curator of the Latino Faces exhibit, says the placement of these portraits tell a story.

“We try to place the designers — Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta — close,” she said. “They are in a far corner because they belong together. We also have Elena Poniatowska and David Alfaro Siqueiros (together) because we think about them as the rebels of the exhibition.”

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Diego’s art work will benefit the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Latina Leadership Institute.

Latino Faces remains on display at the Art Legacy Gallery through April 27.

Norma Martinez can be reached by email at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1