Annie Gomez, 61, hasn’t quite grasped the concept that she’s finally an artist. Gomez’s debut art show, Alter of Anguish, which opened on Second Saturday at Gallista Gallery, is a 20-work collection of pieces that are bright in color and dark in content. Although she still hasn’t learned what composition or balance is, you’d never know it from looking at her work — or that she has spent a lifetime overcoming obstacles to finally find her space in a gallery.
Gomez’s struggle to become an artist is clearly represented in her drawings and paintings. Her pieces are filled with turmoil, a result, perhaps, of feeling that if she wasn’t doing the art right, God would punish her. Broken paintbrushes symbolize the battle with herself to create art.
Gomez started drawing at a young age, and her mother caught onto her gift when she designed dresses for her dolls that she told
Annie were “really pretty.” For any young girl this might be the ultimate seal of approval. Despite her talent, Annie was sent to a convent in eighth grade and stayed there for five years. She left, she says, because she didn’t believe she had enough real-world experience to help others. Gomez says she was too young to be thrust into a religious order, but she doesn’t regret her time spent at the convent.
Seven years after leaving the convent, Gomez met her husband Joe, and he encouraged her to start taking art classes. She studied at various local colleges and universities, taking courses at the McNay, Inspire Fine Art Center, and most recently at Gallista Gallery.
But Gomez didn’t try painting until she showed her Gallista instructor, Jim, drawings that she’d been working on for more than 20 years. It took the urging of a friend to show her art to Gallista owner Joe Lopez. Lopez loved her works and quickly booked Gomez’s first show.
Gomez painted while her husband worked nights, pouring her soul into her art. Some pieces, she says, were just too painful to work on at times. Jim compared her to Frida Kahlo, since both artists delve into surrealism. Although Gomez is a fan of the Mexican icon (she even created a ceramic bust of Kahlo) she doesn’t follow art history. “I’m really not going by any artists … this is my art,” Gomez says.
She is by no means snubbing artists that have come before her. She acknowledges that she possesses the gift, but still shies away from identifying herself as an artist. She struggles to describe her work, saying simply that it represents “feelings that I couldn’t express through words.”
“It was all my feelings — I never knew what the end product would be like.”
Gomez’s feelings weren’t always dark; when she painted trees she found inspiration from an unlikely role model. When her husband would comment that they weren’t realistic enough she found herself going back to the famous Bob Ross happy-tree method.
She plans to continue taking classes, and to show her work in more venues. “I always wanted to be an artist,” Gomez says with a smile as she looks at her works on the Gallista Gallery walls. •
Alter of Anguish
1913 S. Flores