A dream life comes true – one painting at a time

I first met an artist based in San Antonio Albert Gonzales a few months ago at one of my favorite cafes, Rosella. I was sipping a latte and working on my laptop, trying to disconnect from the world. Gonzales was meeting locals who had purchased some of his art displayed there.

At one point Gonzales, 31, noticed me peeking at his paintings and he introduced himself. But he didn’t stop there. He insisted on telling me his story, despite my impending deadlines. Her moving story included an impromptu visit to her art exhibit in the café and next door to architecture firm Overland Partners.

It was my honor to listen.

His story begins with his dream, an epiphany so intoxicating that it inspired him to quit his depressing cabin job. that same day. His vision – to paint a canvas in a cabin in the mountains of Germany – would put him on the path from starving artist to beloved San Antonio artist.

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One of his most heartbreaking experiences was in 2015, when he painted from street corners in Downtown and Southtown, exposing his art on the sidewalks to sell for $5-20, all that he could get to pay for new and better paints, brushes and canvases.

Homeless, he spent his nights couch-surfing, sometimes resting on public buses and benches or iHop. He doesn’t remember having slept much.

“Too hungry,” he said.

Yes, for food. But he spoke of a different kind of hunger, an ambition that drove him to overcome significant obstacles and extraordinary adversity to achieve his dream. Self-taught and resilient, he is driven by his goals.

Local artist Albert Gonzales draws inspiration from his family, both child and adult. Here, his 2-year-old son draws in his studio.

Albert Gonzales/Courtesy

A personal exhibition.

An out-of-state exhibition.

His own art studio gallery.

A comfortable life of his art.

I’m not an art lover, but his art, which he says is inspired by Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh, is remarkable. His works are included in exhibitions in Texas and beyond. And he’s creating local public art, including helping other artists create the new “All Welcome, Love Conquers Hate” mural on Travis Park Methodist Church.

Behind each of Gonzales’ paintings hides a story.

During my unscheduled visit, Gonzales said his exhibit, “A Story for My Son,” described how his parents’ divorce when he was 7 shaped him into the man he is today. Her message of enduring heartbreak and pain resonated with the cycle of divorce in my life and the lives of almost everyone I know.

“Unity and love” was one of my favorite pieces because of its bright and bold colors. The white flowers represent the innocence of Gonzales and his younger brother; the red flowers represent the love and joy of her parents, before their separation.

“Those are some of my fondest memories of how I remember my family growing up when I was a little boy,” he said.

Her painting, “The Moment Life Stopped”, shows broken flowers against a dark background.

“That’s when I realized my family was changing and it would never be the same again. I was very scared and I was very sad,” he said. It’s the very first time I’ve cried while painting. I had vivid flashbacks to my childhood and my parents asked me who I wanted to live with.

One of his darkest paintings, “Broken into pieces”, of broken flowers floating against a black background, had the biggest impact on me.

“The family I had growing up became unrecognizable memories. I wish my family could be put back together,” he said.

Some wishes do not come true, but new ones can be born.

He still plans to paint one day in this dream cabin on the mountainside in Germany. Only now he would like to take his wife of two years, Caroline, and his 2-year-old son, Seferino.

His most sacred wish? To make sure his family is unbreakable – so his son can one day tell a new story.

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