An Unforgettable Time at CATALYST


Photo Credit: Chris Conforti

Hello everyone!

During September I was honored to be the Artist in Residence at CATALYST, at the Tucson Mall. I painted live on premises and presented a closing Artist Reception, which I called “A Cosmic Art Event.”  During my stay, I (almost) completed my last painting, which I plan to showcase soon. During the month, it was a joy to share the space with very talented individuals, starting from the CATALYST staff, to business creatives such as Art Mixer, and the  Esperanza Dance Project. This artists' collective was initiated by Kate Marquez, whose genius made it grow to what it is today along with the rest of the staff, an ideal combination of awesome and appropriate spaces for all creatives and our needs. I absolutely recommend you all to visit CATALYST!

During my presentation, I spoke on a few updates, my recent art pieces and my work in instruction. Additionally, I shared that I’ve been simultaneously caring full-time for my mother, Eva Rincón, during the last 10 years. She joined God in May, and I've been handling that. My presentation was in part dedicated to her memory, since she is an intricate part of my art life.  Her life was amazing, tragic and brilliant. We had both wonderful and difficult years in the US and Mexico, learned humility to overcome our differences, and became best friends. Her impact in my life permeates everything, hence Rinconart. Here I will share a few thoughts on her.

A very beautiful woman, she married an American in the late 1950’s and immigrated to Texas, had a great family life and many accomplishments, like her bachelor’s degree from UT Austin, and perfecting English and French. She lived through the 60’s and embraced it like a natural flower child.  Her husband’s participation in the Vietnam war affected his mental health and along with his family, engaged in bizarre abusive behaviors against my mother, violating her human rights. She tried to rebuild after her divorce and had twins from another relationship, but it was not stable, so the children were adopted by another family and raised in the US. She returned to Mexico and, despite harassment from her sisters, found healing over time.  

Her resilience took her to a successful career as an executive bilingual secretary to the Advisors of the Mexican President, at the time, José López Portillo.  She translated legal, patents, technical documents, books, and even subtitles for Hollywood movies released in Mexico during the 80’s. I was born from this world of politics, culture, and the law, even though my father couldn't be with me. I have super cool childhood memories of after-school visits during her special projects at the President’s quarters: Los Pinos. Today, thanks to AMLO and his administration, Los Pinos has been transformed into a cultural complex. My mom was an avid supporter of AMLO for years.

My mother taught me to develop my skills in various areas so I could be independent and pursue my art life with ease. My first job was at 14 and I never stopped working since. I have experience in business, administration, Real Estate, translations, instruction, design, hospitality, and legal work.. But the art life is always part of it, because we incorporate our experiences into our work. That’s how I grew up in Mexico City: Music in parks, murals, public museums, fairs, bookstores, colors everywhere. My relatives on my mother’s side are all talented in one way or another, many play piano, guitar, sing, etc. My cousin Roberto, for example, has been a piano teacher all of his life. 

At a young age I had all kinds of questions, often metaphysical. This was not acceptable by my Catholic surroundings (some of which were highly superstitious), so I kept my interests in the beyond to myself. But I saw it everywhere, especially in the indigenous world that surrounded me. It was in my city and culture, but also because I was partially raised by Doña Rebeca, the caretaker of our building who was the equivalent of my grandmother. Full-blown indigenous, I spent time with her family and learned many things that were completely different from my other European-style family (some of whom, sadly, rejected Doña Rebeca, and consequently a part of my soul). One of the main things I learned with her was to be closer to nature.

In terms of society, I learned the contrasts and dynamics of my environment, where ethnic groups were not supposed to mix, where native Americans and ancient knowledge were advertised for the tourists, but their daily lives were hell due to marginalization and poverty, and openly humiliated by some Catholic and otherwise euro-style communities. I grew up observing political struggles and the artists and creatives that made a difference, taking it all in, making it part of my art life.

My mother encouraged me to live my life and consider children only in the right circumstances - I suppose it's because of what she went through. I have taught and been a counselor to lonely youth riddled with family problems: Lack of support and attention, creative outlets, emotional/sexual education, and protection from abuse, to name a few. I think many of us experienced some of these issues while growing up, so I agree with my mother's viewpoints. We always aspire to end toxic cycles from our parent’s generations, in my case I have amazing nieces and nephews that I hope to see thrive. Despite rapid changes in Mexico, there’s still a lot of stigma and unfair expectations of women, one reason why I am a grateful immigrant. I appreciate organizations like the Esperanza Dance Project, and encourage you to learn about their work and enhance your understanding of how Art has the power to heal the soul. I encourage every parent to pursue art classes for their children, and themselves too.

We immigrants come from everywhere, with struggles and stories, find ourselves here, and find ourselves here. I am not sure how to measure success, but from my humble origins’ perspective, life has taken me places beyond my expectations. I’ve met incredible people… and shared with my mother many years I did not anticipate. Anything at this point is an additional blessing. I love the finer things in life, but hardships show you the value of people who are humble at heart. That is my favorite kind of people, they aren’t always found in the world of luxury. So I keep my life simple, with a positive mindset and removing myself from narcissistic environments/family/friends/relationships. That is how I've made most progress in my life. Currently, workwise I am in the field of providing solutions to homelessness in Tucson, Arizona. Now that is a motivator.

Time for my art life was limited because I was a caregiver 24/7, so I am working on projects slowly. My mother's adopted children here did not get involved with us (her PTSD required patience), we lived completely independent lives from each other, with a very different lifestyle. I am happy with my humble origins; I live a healthy and productive life thanks to my hard work and it feels pretty darn good. So, today my communications with them are limited to a legal basis. My mother and I understood that she was a victim long ago (we both were), and found legal protection and healing, it's been a heck of a journey. I am SO proud to be her daughter. Life is about stories, and today I share mine.

A Cosmic Art Event also featured an overview of my background and discussion of various pieces that have been quite popular over the years, many of which are from Arizona, of course. I love the entire state, but particularly Tucson and Sedona areas. Some of my work features metaphysical and Native American themes. I also bring up the discussion of the cosmic changes we are experiencing on a global scale, using as reference some pieces with pyramids, mystical topics and sacred sites, such as The Reunion and Light Codes of the Fifth Dimension.

You will find at CATALYST the original for The Reunion on display (and available for sale), come check it out! I also received awesome feedback at the Tucson Folk Festival this year. I can't thank SAACA enough for giving visibility to the Latino and Native American communities of Tucson.

I think it’s long overdue that I acknowledge individuals and groups who have made a difference over the years in my life. I have also built an extended family, people who are transparent and laugh at the simple things in life. They’ve shown up during hard times, lent an ear or a hand because they care and because they can. So thank you. In the darkest hour, the Most High has made sure to remind me I am not alone. This is the most amazing miracle of all. God is our ultimate family, and let’s not forget our ancestors, I believe they are present with us and in our memories.  

For introverts like me, the art life is not always fun: Some people will laugh at you, others will try to be your friends, some will invent stories about you, copy you, or even try to compete with you. It is all a circus to me. I don't take myself that seriously, because it all comes from the Creative Source, and everyone can access it through introspection. I wish more people did.

Authenticity is what’s up. Courage and loyalty are what’s up. Consistency matters. we all make humbling mistakes, we learn to own up and hopefully grow from them.  The jewels of life, what makes it worth living. Not all the talent in the world, influences or charm will take you places if you don’t put in the work. Discipline is where I put my focus, I believe in the law of reciprocity, it’s actually pretty straight forward to me.

I want to thank each and everyone of you who has shown interest and appreciation for my artwork. It is a joy for me to share it and it is also my business. So thank you for your business as well. A short and incomplete list of those who I wish to acknowledge today:

Of course, my family, those of you who stood by us and supported my mother through all of her struggles, we love you!

Murray Bolesta, Santosha, Omid, Ernie, Gene Roberts, Laura B, Maria's Restaurant, Scott M, Tucson Yellow Book (2009), Steve Pagac, Angel Ibañez, Mayan Restaurant, The West Coast Leaf, Frank Town Meadows, Matthew Prentice, Thomas Cox, The Angry Crab, Raúl L, Mr. Ziegler, Pop Art, Findelton Estate Winery, Iron Willow Gallery, The Triad Arts Theatre, Jose Mora, SAACA, Chuck Gross, Chris Conforti, Lance Saxerud, The Harrison Group, and more to come.

Ana Luisa Rincón