the artist

Ralfka Gonzalez

Ralfka Gonzalez

San Antonio, Texas

Ralfka Gonzalez

I was born and reared near the San Antonio river where El Rancho Grande meets the blues, on the borderland, neither here nor there.  An angel came to me and told me to paint: I channel the mystical primitive, creatively and scientifically.  Creative experience is the mama of science.  My mama used to say,“every generation says it is the end of the time, it is the end of the world.”  Living as a gay Mexican man, being able to express this healing process of living in folk art: I believe surrealism is a blessing.  I paint myths I have not met in person.  Yet I know them, from the bowel to the lips.  The work is healing for me.  Some people love my art, some don’t.  I want to make art that makes you smile: colorful bees, cactus flowers, virgin saints.  Death, love, social justice, dreaming butterflies.  And like my real world, my art has deeper shadows, too.  Art needs to be shocking.  Be spontaneously on purpose.  New universes will be discovered.

Self-taught Chicano artist Ralfka Gonzalez was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1958 and now lives and works in San Francisco, California.  Gonzalez has worked for several periods in Philadelphia, Chicago, Oaxaca (Mexico), Mazatlán (Mexico), and San Francisco.  Gonzalez is also well known in Philadelphia, where he spent several years in the 1980s and 1990s.

Gonzalez has also been involved in many other projects.  He co-wrote and illustrated the award-winning children’s book, My First Book of Proverbs/ Mi Primer Libro de Dichos, published by Children’s Book Press/Lee and Low Books.  His work is featured at Rick Bayless’s two restaurants in Chicago, Frontera Grill and Topolobambo.  Among his other diverse endeavors have been the interiors for restaurants in San Francisco, postcard and notecard designs, and the cover art for Sandra Cisneros’ book Loose Women (Random House, 1994).  His work has also been featured in critical work, including Art and Homosexuality (Oxford University Press), La Luz de Jesus 25 (catalog book), In and Out of the Cold (Yerba Buena Museum, SF), Mission Grafica: Reflecting Community in Print (Mission Cultural Center, SF), and Raw Vision Magazine.

Fast Facts

Name: Ralfka V. Gonzalez

Place of Birth: San Antonio, Texas

Notable or memorable instructors or mentors:
H.D. Ivey (sculptor), Rolando Briseño, Arnulfo Mendoza (Zapotec painter and rug maker)

Particular field of study or class work:
Mexican folk art and fine art, illuminated manuscripts

Major influences/admired artists:
Martín Ramirez; Francisco Toledo; Dr. Atl (Gerardo Murillo Coronado); David Hockney; Jean Dubuffet; Judy Chicago; Robert Mapplethorpe; Marcel Duchamp; Man Ray

Favorite materials or media:
Acrylic paint, wood, tin, canvas

Gallery Representation (when Convention Center acquired artwork):
Galería La Mano Mágica (Oaxaca, Mexico)

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