El Progreso Memorial Library’s artist of the month for May is Uvaldean Dolores Gutierrez, 67, a self-taught painter specializing in oils.
“I try all different techniques,” she said. “I really started with watercolors. Watercolors would be easier, but oils are brighter.” Gutierrez has been painting for the last 30 years.
She enjoys the time necessary to work with her chosen medium. Though oil paints take longer to dry, “I have patience for it,” she said. “To me, the acrylic dries real fast. If I make a mistake [using acrylic], it’s hard to correct.”
A wide range of her work is on display at the library, including nature and still-life. In time for Cinco de Mayo, the display especially focuses on Gutierrez’s Latin heritage. “My art interest and inspiration are my Hispanic culture, my faith and my country,” she said.
“Right now, it’s my country,” Gutierrez continued. “We want to make this country better, but we need to stand up… to stop all this injustice that’s going on, things that are not right.” Her paintings inspired by American patriotism are not part of the display for this month.
“I like to paint everything, but my Hispanic art inspires me more,” she said.
The famed Diego Rivera has been a meaningful artist for her. “He paints also on hispanic culture,” she said. “His work inspires me because he shows that he respects his culture.”
Her favorites from her own collection are her renditions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which she has named “Rosa de Guadalupe,” and Mission San Jose in San Antonio.
“I am interested in Texas history [and] the settlement of San Antonio,” Gutierrez shared. “One of the first to settle San Antonio were the Catholic Spanish missionaries who built the several missions of faith to convert the American Indians and also to protect them. My cultural piece ‘Mission San Jose’ is part of our faith and history of Texas.
“I like San Antonio because it has a lot of culture,” she said.
“Another of my artwork which is [inspired by] my faith is the oil painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is Blessed Mary, Mother of God, whom I honor and venerate.”
When asked how she sees herself growing as an artist, she had this to say: “I just paint. We have to keep our minds active… open. You get sick when you just do nothing.”
When she is not painting, Gutierrez enjoys listening to music. “Music and painting [are] food for the soul for me,” she said. “Your faith [is], too.” She is an active member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and regularly participates in the Cursillo Christian movement, a three-day retreat focused on attendees’ relationships with themselves and with Christ.
“When you come out of there,” she said of the retreat, “you see the world differently.”
Gutierrez hopes to be a positive influence on other artists and those who are just starting out. “I want to see others grow in their talent. I wish I was an inspiration to the youth or others who do want to continue their talent and their art,” she said.
“I have realized that there’s a lot of talent here in Uvalde,” she went on. “Arts needs to be encouraged here… After [students] get out of high school, I don’t see them continuing their art. We need to have more art shows, more activities.”
Gutierrez’s work has been on display in Del Rio at the Casa de la Cultura during its monthly art walk. She has also done several shows in Uvalde with the former Uvalde Art League. For the last two months, she and three other artists have set up their work downtown during Foursquare Friday, which she plans to continue this month.