Luis Perez’s Retablo


One of my favorite moments at last weekend’s Spring ArtWalk was hanging out at the new Vita-Art space with co-owner Luis Perez. Perez has a warmth and authenticity about him that made me not want to leave, which turned out well as my lingering allowed me to meet artist Wil Shephard who has a provocative, exhibit of 3-dimensional art made from found objects.

While perusing the gallery a particular painting caught my eye and Perez explained to me that it was a retablo that was made for him by a Mexican artist.  As it turns out, retablos are fairly rare (Perez has a personal collection in his home), made mainly in Latin America and devotional in nature–an aspect that resonates deeply with me.

Retablos are  expressions of gratitude for answered prayers.  They are very personal and few artists make them. Perez’s retablo (pictured) depicts an environment for teaching children to create art and includes an image of a saint that corresponds with the subject or event, a traditional practice for retablo painting.  The Vita-Art Center is a manifestation of Perez and his wife’s dream, for which they are of course grateful. This attitude is reflected in the retablo and throughout the gallery/learning space.

If you didn’t make it to ArtWalk (or even if you did) Vita-Art at the Bell Arts Factory will be open on Friday, May 1 for the First Friday gallery crawl, an event put on solely by local artists.


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