Rene Alvarado: Studio center

His work has caught the attention of a wide range of collectors, and he is considered one of the most refreshing talents in the state. While his style is clearly influenced by 20th century painters such as Picasso, Diego Rivera, and Frieda Kahlo, Rene’s imagery comes from within, and in each painting, he reveals a bit of himself.

The past twelve months have, in many ways, been an awakening for the reserved young man from San Angelo. Following his highly successful show in Austin (May 2000), Rene traveled to the Northeast to spend the month of July at the Vermont Studio center on a residence fellowship. The center, founded in 1984, provides an opportunity for artists and writers to pursue independent work and to interact informally with other painters, sculptors, photographers, and writers.

The Studio center was truly amazing. Life there was simple and free from daily responsibilities. Time in my assigned studio was uninterrupted, and after a few days of adjusting, this new environment served as a home away from home. I did not paint as often as I would have liked. There was too much going on, and I chose to participate. I went to poetry readings, visiting artists’ talks, performance art events, and, of course, to the great forest surrounding the center.

Most of the interaction took place in the dining hall where I was generally seen visiting with writers. When I listened to them talk, I felt very envious of their ability with words and found the ease with which they used words extraordinary. I have always painted and, in many ways, told stories using my vocabulary of images. I realized that from sculptors and painters to writers, it seems we all shared one common language. We all had something to say, each with his or her own ingredients.

I wanted to explore my creative process within all this newness; I wanted to take all the emotions gathered from my surroundings and translate them into my own language. Painting has always come naturally to me so I wanted to learn something fresh and distracting about myself… perhaps a new challenge within the creative process. One of the visiting artists noticed my frustration. He asked why I was trying to reinvent myself. Reinvent myself? I did not realize the damage I was causing. To approach change by neglecting all that is so much a part of oneself, is like replacing one soul with another. The wise artist’s advice was ‘never change what comes from the heart.’ He took all the photographs from my portfolio and placed them on my work table. He asked what I saw, and I replied ‘myself’.

At the end of the stay as we all exchanged numbers and addresses, I received a couple of poems written by two lady writers. Both were about a particular painting of mine with which they had connected. For me, this [verbal tribute] was the highest of all compliments.

Expect to see more emphasis on space and variations on how the human figure and the symbolic elements interact. A certain refinement not seen in earlier work emerges from the subtle interplay of line and color. He is challenging himself at each turn, and the result is an exciting evolution which brings him to the forefront of talented contemporary artists.

En route from Vermont to Texas, Rene spent time in New York City. This, his first visit to the center of art and culture, was mesmerizing. A whole new world opened before his eyes as he wandered through museums and explored galleries. Look for his work to be hanging in a New York gallery in the near future! Meanwhile, you can look forward to seeing his most recent work here at the Gallery Shoal Creek in mid-May.