ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Renowned New Mexico contemporary artist Edward Gonzales has been to the White House to present his work. He’s had a school in Southwest Albuquerque named after him. And now, his life is the subject of a new commemorative mural painted by students at his namesake school.
“I thought it was a really wonderful, ambitious effort on their part,” Gonzales said of a baker’s dozen of students who worked on the mural in the cafeteria of Edward Gonzales Elementary School at 86th and Tower SW.
The mural depicts Gonzales as a child interested in art, working his way from high school to the military, and coming back to become one of Albuquerque’s more celebrated artists, as an illustrator, print maker and painter.
“I think it really captured the spirit of what was going on in my heart through all that time,” he said.
The mural accentuates the importance of family, education and the preservation of the Hispanic culture. Gonzales collaborated on the project with 13 students, school community liaison Alma McBride and substitute teacher Alex Morris, both artists.
The cafeteria at the May 22 unveiling was packed with more than 200 people, some of whom said they had driven long distances to be there, Gonzales said, commenting on the recent event.
“It was a really memorable event that I’ll always cherish being a part of,” he said of the mural project funded by the McCune Foundation.
The Corrales artist, known for dedicating much of his career to works that depict authentic images of Hispanic life, culture and traditions, also donated three paintings to the school, titled “Grandmother’s Wisdom,” “At Home with Books” and “The Gift of Reading.”
All three works to be hung at the school emphasize the importance of parents and grandparents in education, and how reading represents the key to a good life.
“Education starts with the family, and the paintings also show that the child should be self-motivated to learn,” Gonzales said. “Those are the messages that I have consistently tried to convey in my art.”
Gonzales has for years donated posters of his work to Albuquerque and New Mexico schools, but this is the first time he has donated original works.
During George W. Bush’s presidency, Gonzales became part of a select few artists chosen to produce a decorative ornament for the White House Christmas tree.
Later this fall, on Sept. 28, Gonzales has agreed to be featured artist at the Albuquerque Public School’s “A is for Art” celebration, hosted by the APS Education Foundation.
— This article appeared on page 1 of the West Side Journal