Monday, September 26, 2016

Canvas 9.26.16

Not An Artist? Me Either.

My great-grandmother was an artist. Pilar Rivera, Puerto-Rican native, and avid seamstress, painter and authoritarian. She could take any cloth, rumor has it, and make it into a tapestry worthy of royalty. I barely knew her before Alzheimer's, but I know a lot about her from Migdalia Hidalgo, my grandmother. 

My grandmother is an artist. She is admired not just for her caretaker skills, God bless her for the last few years she spent with her mother, but also for being an amazing painter. She had her work displayed in a Manhattan exhibit many years before I was born, and I fondly remember summers of her teaching my sister and I how to make beautifully decorated musical instruments out of cereal boxes and oatmeal containers. Even now, on her weekly visits to nursing homes to sing and encourage residents (she is 71, mind you), my grandmother will occasionally make paper flowers, pictures and cards to hand out. 

My father, Michael Hidalgo is an artist. He is one of those point-at-something-and-he-can-draw-it kinda guys. A beast with a pencil, he took it up a notch and through twenty years of experience in graphic design and printing, is also an amazing retoucher and proofer. He can digitally reconstruct photos, use Photoshop to make annual Christmas cards with our faces on any pop culture icons, and can make banners, posters and invitations with ease.

My sister, Maria guessed an artist. She had her artwork displayed in a Children’s museum at eight years old; I not so fondly remember the long trip to Staten Island by ferry and bus (big kudos to all of you who do it every day) to go to the exhibit. It was a portrait of her friend Jolee, which I think means pretty in French. 

Not to be outdone, my two-and-a-half year old niece, Naomi Migdalia Hidalgo IS AN ARTIST! I am pretty sure that a 24-count Crayola box in her hands is a force not to be reckoned with. Give her a white sheet of paper, and she defiantly will find use for every square inch.

So what about Mike Hidalgo? You may be asking this as you skim the above family history I’ve made you endure. Well it’s quite simple, really. I am not an artist. Not a visual one, anyway. Oh I have tried, how I have tried! I’ve been sketching for years, and have taken classes. Heck, I worked four years in a printing studio for clients like Calvin Klein, Victoria's Secret and Hugo Boss, yet I can not draw a straight line with a ruler, true story. It is just not my gift. Though I have tried every medium to create a visual, from painting to photography, I have spent my life writing a thousand words to catch up to the images my family can make. I don’t know if it is funny or frustrating (nah I do, it’s both), but being the writer in a family of artists has got me wondering if this is why I have avoided “Canvas” for so long. Because if I can be honest with you...I don’t really like art. As a result of being someone who can’t produce magic, it is hard to be a spectator of it. Don’t get me wrong, I like art in a general sense, I’ve just never been able to say much about it. Either I like something or not, that’s really it. I happen to think that the most beautiful cavas is the sky, by the way. Every day a new image appears, as if angels have Etch-a-Sketches or something.

But yea, art commentary is a dub for me, as the kids say.

I thought I would use this time to show some art I do like though, from an artist who I respect a lot for his dedication to his work. He is my cousin Dominick Valentin, and coming from a family of tattoo artists, sketches literally every night. I am not particularly close to him any more, but I admire his work all the time when he posts it on Facebook. Most of his work he does not get paid for. He just draws for the heck if it. He takes requests, and usually has them done by the next evening. He does is not for money or fame, but because he loves it. And he draws everything. Here are a few I pulled out from his recent collection. 


It’s totally okay that I can’t draw. And I understand that I have a different type of art, making me an artist by default, just not the kind that most of my family is. I am a big believer that every person has a gift, most have many, and that we should use them. My canvas may be different from someone else’s, but it shouldn’t stop me from creating art. I have to accept that, as should you, and anyone else. I do still stand by the fact, however, that it makes visual art harder to talk about.

Stay golden everybody,

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