A new ex­hi­bi­tion at Desert Botan­i­cal Gar­den in Phoenix high­lights the evo­lu­tion of Frank Gonzales’ paint­ings.

American Art Collector - - Contents - By Rochelle Bel­sito

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"

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