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Pursuing the Mexican Dream

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By Joe Ray

Gennaro Garcia is an artist who grew up in and around his family’s restaurants in San Luis and Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico. Along with his passion for fine cuisine, he discovered a passion for art. In addition to preparing the foods he loved, he also wanted to paint and photograph them. Today, Gennaro lives in the town of Maricopa with his wife and young daughter, where he creates art and maintains his love of food and the joy it brings to others.

Tell us about your creative process

Usually it starts by looking around inside my home, inside my soul. Then, I’ll walk outside, or if I go driving, I’ll look around. Everything is art. I take pictures continuously. Then, when I’m ready to paint, I look inside again. I look for something that got my attention before, then I start sketching everything. The funny part is that I never know what I will paint, or what colors will be on the canvas; all I need is a blank canvas treated with Italian plaster full of texture. I just stare at the canvas. Sometimes it’ll take a few minutes and sometimes a few days, but the idea is just to create something new, something different – just something.

You’re the father of a beautiful, two-year-old daughter, Frida. How has fatherhood shaped your outlook as an artist? Is it evident in the work itself, or is it more subtle?

Well, now I no longer have control of my time. She gets my attention all day long; I don’t like to paint if I know I can be playing or doing something with her. But, my art is still the same; the only difference is that now I paint thinking about her. I hear her, and that just keeps me painting. There is nothing more beautiful than spending time with that little girl.

You had a show in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Tell us about your “Mexican Dream” and why it’s so personal

The idea of exhibiting in San Miguel de Allende came after receiving an invitation to exhibit my work in New York City. A well-known gallery in New York in the Chelsea area contacted me and offered me representation for a year, along with a solo show. I agreed, but, the very next day, I called back and canceled because I wanted to exhibit in Mexico first. 

I recall that they asked me at which gallery in Mexico I would exhibit, and I replied, “I don’t have one yet.” Of course, they told me I was out of my mind, and I agreed with them! I told them that exhibiting in New York City was a dream for any artist and it is part of my American Dream, too. But, what happened to my Mexican Dream? 

Where is the Mexican exhibit? 

I wanted to exhibit in my Mexico – en mi patria, mi segunda piel. That’s my “Mexican Dream,” to exhibit in my Mexico. A few weeks later, I met a Mexican film director, Carlos Muñoz. When he was presenting his latest movie here in Phoenix, we talked and laughed, and he asked me about my future plans. I told him about wanting to go back to Mexico and find a gallery, and I also mentioned the New York story. He laughed and told me I was very güey! Then, about a week later, he contacted me from Mexico City and asked if I was serious about wanting to exhibit in Mexico. 

I said, “Yes, of course,” and he suggested doing this short film about my journey back to Mexico, and that’s what we ended up doing. I flew to San Miguel de Allende and he followed me around “24/7” with his cameras. I was fortunate to find the gallery I wanted and, thanks to my dear friend, Guiomar, who lives in San Miguel, I was introduced to so many amazing people. This got me even more excited about exhibiting there. 

So, on January 6, I had my first solo show in Mexico, “Finding My Mexican Dream.” This is part of the short film that Carlos Muñoz is putting together. 

What is your biggest goal and ambition for 2012 and 2013? 

As a follow-up to the exhibit in San Miguel, Mexico City will be next, then, it’s New York City. This is where the film will end.

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