Al Preciado on Retrospective, Recollection, Reflections
06 May, 2019
San Jose, California fine artist Al Preciado has had an illustrious career. Having shown work on a national and global stage, the seasoned and accomplished painter and sculptor believes in the importance of artists possessing a strong voice and making a social impact through their work. This past December, Al had what may be his very last major exhibition at Citadel Gallery in San Jose, CA, Al Preciado: Retrospective, Recollection, Reflections, which consisted of original works of art, as well as a vast collection of pieces featuring his favorite artists, who also happen to be great friends to this world-renowned artistic talent. In addition to his active involvement in the art world and community at large, Al has taught at Bellarmine College Prep, Jesuit High School for the past 21 years, continuing to instill in students his values and experience.
Dig IN Magazine: Al, this past December you had a solo exhibit, Al Preciado: Retrospective, Recollection, Reflections, at Citadel Art Gallery in San Jose, California. What is the significance of this exhibit? What art of your own did you show there and what art from The Preciado Collection did you have on display?
Al Preciado: I have a vast collection and my 2019 retrospective was filled with old and new art that I have collected over the years and in the last few months Among the favorite works I’ve collected are from artists Erika Gomez Henao, Jaclyn Aldrete, Tridy Levy, WillB, Vanesa O’Hanlon, Danny Rosales, Harry Powers, Kimy Martinez, Francisco Ramirez, Andre Hart and a multitude of others. A new artist I like very much is Fabricio Ponce.
Dig IN: How long did it take you to complete all the art on display?
AP: To install and complete my last major exhibition, my retrospective of 2019 took several months of painting outdoors and much in studio work. To actually install I had the help of [my] students and fellow Citadel Studio artist, Willie Baet. He does a wonderful job of installing the art work My brother Jaime and sister Elena, as well as her daughter were also instrumental in this last large solo exhibit that I will ever do.
Dig IN: Can you share what inspires your paintings and sculptures?
AP: What inspires my painting and sculpture and other art work such as photo collage and watercolor are the beauty of women as objects of desire, powerful beings as represented by ballerinas (who stands on one toe as they do) and healers of the chaotic world. One of my favorite women right now is Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, newly elected Representative for New York and a hard as nails fighter for the people from the Bronx.
What also inspires me are my students. One hand washes the other and in my case, teaching of students inspires my art and my art inspires my teaching.
Just like I cannot imagine a world without music, I cannot imagine doing art without the constant love of my students.
Dig IN: You’ve shown your art all over the country and world for many years, what would you say has been the biggest driving force for you to remain active in the art industry?
AP: To be honest I feel due to my older age I am slowing down and do not have the power and range I have felt in the past. I feel that wisdom and experience sometimes make up for my loss of drive–although when I am at Two Buck Tuesday at Kaleid Gallery, Mighty Mike McGee’s event at Cafe Frascati, The Well Read Series, Flash Forum at Works Gallery or The Invigorating Meeting of the Minds at the Citadel 9, which is a collaboration of two randomly selected artists out of numerous artists that paint together for three hours, I feel my creative juices flowing back. Therefore, I feel my friendships and family are a driving [force] and always constantly push my creativity.
Dig IN: There is one painting that consists of a marriage proposal between a couple, can you tell me what inspired this piece?
AL: The Proposal was a painting created at the Rose Garden on Naglee in the Rose Garden Neighborhood. It was inspired by a man proposing to his lady right in front of me as I was doing a Rose Garden scene. The couple stepped in front not knowing I was there. So I painted them into the scene. They were very impressed with the painting and came to my show and purchased it!
Dig IN: What have been the major highlights of your career?
AP: First Solo exhibition at Fred Spratt Gallery 1989
Two man exhibition at MACLA 2000
3 solo shows at the Blue House Gallery, Frankfurt Germany, 2010, 2012, 2014,
4 Solo shows at the Cooper Gallery and Transhudson Gallery in Jersey City, New Jersey
1992 and 1995 Award for Every day Hero for the arts for Jersey City 1994
Multi Cultural and Renannsaise winner at SJSU, 1989
Greenwich House Resident in artist winner, New York City 1995
2018 & 2019 Candidate for the Cornerstone for the arts award San Jose
Favorite shows I have curated:
1994 Racism and Otherness, 111 FIRST Street Galleries, Jersey City, New Jersey
1995 Sex, Control and Desire, 111 First Street
1998 Que es Chicano with Kelly Griffin on Santa Ana and Carlos Perez in San Jose
2010 Beast Figurative at Works Gallery
2013 Seed with Heart of Chaos
Dig IN: You’ve also taught at Bellarmine College Prep, Jesuit High School for the past 21 years, what values and experience in the art world do you hope to instill in your students? What do you hope to teach them?
AP: As I have stated one hand washes the other and teaching has been a major part of my life. From New York City to Costa Mesa and finally San Jose, teaching has been the constant in my life even as I have gone through several relationships. Besides showing students how to do art I try to teach them about the creative, regeneration healing power of art and how it can restore your spirit. Art saved me afterall. From a little boy 4 years old picking up wire that the Telephone repairman threw down because he saw me playing in the backyard to comic books (mostly Marvel 9–Stan Lee and Jack Kirby will always, along with Spiderman, Black Panther and the In Humans be my heroes.) I try to show students how benefiting it is and the freedom one feels when painting or sculpting. How another zone of calmness, serenity and certainty is the center of art making and how they can balance a stressful life with the medicine, the magical sweetness and process that envelopes one’s soul, heart, mind, hands and heart [with it.]
Dig IN: One of your latest pieces is of NFL Football star Colin Kaepernick kneeling as he had done during NFL’s the national anthem in a symbolic gesture of protest against racial discrimination in the sports organization. How powerful do you believe art is in regards to activism and making political statements, in this case, on social justice issues? How do you feel art can influence change in society?
AP: I believe artists should reflect on their work or behavior and possess knowledge or awareness of the political landscape surrounding their environment. I recently did a piece on the children in cages coming from Central America juxtaposing against the Vietnamese fleeing from Vietnam. I also made a large painting of Colin Kaepernick in front of a flag turning into a snake via its
stripes and the stars sobbing, illustrating to me the tremendous struggle and pain of the division of America today. I believe an artist can make a statement through their art.
Dig IN: You are still involved in a number of group art exhibits, what are your plans for the future in regards to showing art and as an artist in general?
AP: My plans for the future are to have an Open Studio in May and to be a part of the SubZERO Arts Festival in June. I plan on showing at Kaleid Gallery for awhile, reading [poetry] at Cafe Frascati, as well as helping other artists as much as I can.