‘Genesis’ just the beginning for Mexican artist Garza

Nadia Garza poses with one of her paitnings from her self-portrait series. Photo by Andy Coughlan

Nadia Garza is not comfortable with her English, and my Spanish is definitely not good enough to conduct an interview. Fortunately, our mutual friend, local artist Ines Alvidres, was on hand for our conversation. Alvidres doesn’t normally like to play the role of translator, but, “We all speak the language of art,” she said.

Garza was speaking about her solo exhibition, “Genesis,” which opens March 5 at The Art Studio, Inc. Garza visited Beaumont last spring after a long-distance relationship with her husband, Camilo, who works here. While she was visiting, she entered TASIMJAE, the Art Studio’s membership show, and got in. She also participated in a show at the Beaumont Art League.

The Monterrey, Mexico native has only been in Beaumont since November, but she arrives with a solid reputation in her home country, where she ran an art school.

Garza is self-taught. She said her art is a fusion, and she is constantly trying new techniques. Her subject ranges from figurative to abstraction. She works in all media and says that even if she is not sure they will work together, she will always try it.

“We say in Spanish, ‘corazonada’ — a feeling in your heart,” Garza said. “Everything really starts from intuition.”

“Corazonada”equatesittothe English “gut instinct,” although the heart is a somewhat more romantic image.

Nadia Garza poses with one of her paitnings from her self-portrait series. Photo by Andy Coughlan

Garza said she has been an artist since she was a child, when other kids would buy her paintings, and said she has never had any other job.

Alvidres said when she met Garza, they had an instant connection.

“It was so refreshing to hear someone that came from Mexico and her passion,” Alvidres said. “She wasn’t afraid of knocking on doors. She wasn’t afraid to show (her work), and she was explosive, you know? And I love that in anyone, makes you feel like you should be around those people.”

Garza said she works as many as 12 hours a day, all day long. Her daughter (she has two, 19 and 22 years old, and two stepsons around the same ages) went back to Mexico and now she has all the time with her paintings, often working on multiple works at the same time.

“It will be weeks before she finishes one, because she will grab paint and go from one to the next, and then come back to a different idea and then continue on another one,” Alvidres said. “She’s done up to 20 paintings a week. That’s why I was so inspired.”

When Garza was young, she used to go to the dentist and wait to be seen. The waiting room had a huge painting of little kids, but they didn’t make any sense, she remembers, with details such as one ear being bigger than the other.

“I think my dad was using that painting to make us feel that the time was going faster, distracting us,” she said. “That’s what captured me as a kid.

“I want (people) to have the same reaction I had as a kid in that dentist office. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, (but) I want people to be intrigued.”

When Garza was in Mexico, she sold art to Americans and to Europeans, and for a Mexican, she said, it is like a step forward to move to the U.S. She said yes to Southeast Texas because Camilo’s well established in his job and she’s open to new experiences.

“In Mexico we have the saying, ‘If you’re good rooster you will sing the same anywhere you go,’” she said. “So, as a painter, I relate to that because the rooster sings, the artist paints.”

Alvidres said it is a challenge to change because Garza was established in Mexico.

“She has some fears but just doesn’t stop in her,” Alvidres said.

Aside from the bright and playful colors and images, viewers will see a small detail that speaks to Garza’s longevity. She said she feels her signature is a little silly. But she started painting as a child and has kept the same signature on her work the whole time.

Garza’s signature may be child-like, but the work has the assured touch of an experienced grown-up. “Genesis” is just the beginning of her new artventure.

“Genesis” opens with a free reception, 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday and is on display through March 22.

The Art Studio, Inc. is located at 720 Franklin in downtown Beaumont. For more, visit www.artstudio.org.

This story first ran in the March 4, 2022 Art of Living section of The Beaumont Enterprise.

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