{Arts Magazine}


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Patricia Rodriguez, in [email] conversation

photo by Sam Bortnick Photography

Being married to a Texan, I (Zach) have spent more of the last 5 years in Dallas than I had ever expected to. There are opinions and stereotypes that float around about Texas, least of these within the community Composite is a part of, is that of Texas being the next artistic hotbed. However, what a lot of us aren’t talking about or aware of, is that (besides Austin of course) cities like Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston are massive metropolitan areas with resources (and money) and creative communities coming out of the woodwork. This has only become more evident to us by the amount of submissions and proposals that have begun to roll in from across the Lone Star State.

With Issue No. 11, The Wild, we rolled out our Artist Proposal calls. For the first two years of Composite, we, the editors, has been inviting and selecting Visual Art contributors based on personal relationships and work we had seen ourselves. We have been accepting literary work via blind submissions for awhile, but moving forward we knew we needed to open the conversation up to creatives we weren’t running into ourselves. We wanted to open our circle up as big as we coud. Patricia Rodriguez is the first visual artist to be included in Composite through our open calls. Based out of Dallas, I specifically was excited to work with a member of a community happening right under the nose of my extended family, in neighborhoods I barely know but am growing to love.

Recently, Patricia took time out of her super busy schedule to talk with us about her art, her health, and whats going on in South Dallas.


Composite: You might not know this, but you were the first artist we accepted through our new proposal submission calls. How did you find out about composite? How often are you submitting your work for new things? How much of your work time is spent on getting your work out there vs making your work? 

Patricia Rodriguez: I found out about Composite through this site called Art Hash  they regularly post open calls, opportunities and the like for artists. I had no idea I was the first artist accepted but I was super excited to be! I try to be proactive as possible in submitting for new things but of late I’ve been getting ready for some art shows and have slacked off a bit. I do try to catch the major things, like Texas Biennial, even though I’m busy. But usually I try to start my week by finding a few new places to submit, you have to have your fishing lines in the water so hope for new opportunities stay alive.

C: For our most recent issue, the wild, your work involved heavily around birds and bugs and where they call home. An evosystem all their own, what is the catalyst for the use of this kind of imagery in your work?

PR: I wanted to utilize creatures that were right outside your doorstep most likely, our little suburban neighbors. A lot of my work deals with bringing attention to the natural world that is around us here and now- not in some wilderness or exotic place. I feel everyone is always plugged in to technology and the busyness of modern life and should “log in” to Nature a little more. I think there is an upset in the balance of what is natural if you don’t recognize the natural world you live in and realie that everything we have is derived from the Earth. I give humanlike virtues to the creatures in my paintings- doing things that we do….work, survive, push through trials, form societies and families, seek the fruits in life…in hopes of drawing the viewer in and feeling a kinship with the creatures instead of a revulsion like “Ew! A bug!”

C: You call Dallas Texas home. Obviously Dallas, and Texas as whole, have a reputation in regards to culture, accurate or not. What is it actually like living and making work in Dallas? 

PR: Well honestly it is very hard in this town in some regards. Dallas in general is built on restaurants, entertainment and business and it is just now starting to understand that the Arts have been neglected and more of a focus is being turned toward it. There is a cry for “how do we get young artists to come live in our city and help the arts flourish?” by the clueless city planners –with no regard to the fact that the artists ARE HERE they just need opportunities to thrive. That being said the arts community is amazing and helpful and always providing opportunities to each other in various ways so it has it’s pluses living here in Dallas but trying to survive as a full time artist here- extremely hard.

C: There seems to be a real Renaissance going on in neighborhoods like oak cliff, with the Bishop Arts District and the explosion of great new restaurants and breweries popping up all the time. (This interviewer is sad 4 months still about how quickly I drank up the Oak Cliff Roasters Christmas blend) When did all of this start in motion. What are Some of your favorite spots?

PR: I’m a little biased on this question because I grew up in Oak Cliff and have resided here for 36 years so while I appreciate that there’s a plethora of places to grab a cup of coffee and dinner now I also see the bad effects of gentrification going on and familiar spots being torn down, neighbors being kicked out. But that being said I do have a couple of spots to give the thumbs up to, {neighborhood} in the Bishop Arts District actually has….ART! They do a great job of showcasing local artists in their interior design shop, more places should do that. From the Ends of the Earth does the same as well as focusing on recycled, upcycled and Earth friendly art and goods.

C: You have a process somewhat untraditional to the archetypical painter, combining acrylic and krylon (spray paint). What does this process look like in practice? Spray paint/tagging/murals are all common place with in the rising world of street art. Does this growing movement have much context in your work?

PR: I actually love graffiti so much it was the subject of my final term paper in Art History class, that being said I can’t tag if my life depended on it. So I found a way to incorporate the spray paint into my work giving it a different context on canvas. When I did the first painting this way it started with a spray background that reminded me of an ugly tie dye shirt. I hated it. I painted on it and hated it. For the first five hours of painting I hated it until I started to see what was happening- it started to have this really amazing 3D effect, soft and diffused in the background, sharp and graphic in the foreground. It’s something I’m still exploring but from that first sprayed piece I knew I had finally found what I was looking for, my signature style. Now each painting starts that way and for the first five hours it is hated and ugly. It’s like my Nature graffiti, maybe I can put it on a big wall mural style some day.

C: You’ve recently been hit with a few health struggles. What all is going on, and how can people help out? 

PR: Yeah, I’ve had chronic pain for years and it has slowly just gotten worse so much so that the past two months have seen me in the ER more times than I’d ever care to be. After many tests and misdiagnosis the doctors finally see cysts on both ovaries and since it’s been an ongoing source of extreme pain, nausea and vomiting I’m fairly certain a surgery is going to be needed. I’m uninsured and a struggling freelance artist so this comes as a huge blow to me. Having to miss a week of work because I have to go to the ER every month is just not an option and I won’t even mention the outrageous medical bills ($830 for a 3 minute ambulance ride!) So if anyone would like to help out I started a GoFundMe page for donations, you can find it here

The outpouring of help has been amazing and gives me hope that I can face this ailment and get through it, I have an army of awesome souls behind me!

C: What is up next for you? 

PR: I’m in the middle of getting work ready for my first solo show at Baylor Health Science Library at the end of May and preparing for a big joint show at WAAS Gallery with Neil Matthiessen in July. These require a lot of new paintings so I’m hustling to make it happen. I will need at least over 25 new works and time is ticking! It’s a lot of stress but it’s also a lot of fun, I’m doing what I love to do- painting! I usually have about 3 good weeks in the month before I start getting ill,  so I try to paint as much as humanly possible in a day, it’s amazing therapy. Every day painting is a great day.

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