FRANK GONZALES: NATURE UNTAMED
A new exhibition at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix highlights the evolution of Frank Gonzales’ paintings.
Arizona artist Frank Gonzales trained as a classical figurative painter at Laguna College of Art and Design, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2003 before finding his passion for nature themes. He began with ornithological subjects and has combined those with plant life and minerals over the years. The pieces show his background as a technical artist, but also highlight his contemporary eye through a bold use of color, exploration in design, and imaginative forms and ideas.
“Eventually, I didn’t have too much I wanted to say with the figure, and I started involving things that were of interest to me in my work, which was kind of tough at first because you have this fictitious audience you think of that tells you what you can and can’t paint,” Gonzales says. “But when you let go, you start letting go of inhibitions and letting things grow. I wasn’t a big birder growing up, but I was interested in bird imagery. It went from being the spirit of a birdlike image and evolving into more specific species as I’ve grown in my research. I’ve done a lot of that with botanicals as well.”
Gonzales, who spent several years in California after he graduated then moved to New York City where he lived until 2011 before returning to Arizona, has always had a professional connection with Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden nestled in Papago Park. He has spent many hours along its trails studying the cacti and plants to find inspiration, and when he and his
1 Frank Gonzales in his Mesa, Arizona, studio with Night Breed in progress. 2 Amarillo, acrylic on panel, 24 x 20"