By Misty L. Harris and Hugo Rodriguez
Have you been to the Horizons Gallery in the WNED studios in downtown Buffalo to see the new exhibit Mundo Guitarra by artist Hugo Rodriguez? What about the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition? Have you been following that? If your answer is no, here is your opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (figuratively, of course). The Falletta semifinals are currently taking place here at the WNED studios and upon entering the event you will be greeted not only by our friendly volunteers but also by the official art of the competition! Hugo Rodriguez is the official artist for the Falletta Competition and his works speak volumes! The bright colors and mixed media of his art tell silent stories that will engage you for several minutes, if not hours, during your visit. Just as you’re ready to step away, there is something new in each painting that will grab your attention for an extended period of time. So how much do you know about the local artist? As he prepared his exhibition a few weeks ago, I joined him in the gallery and asked him a few questions!
How did you hear about the competition?
HR: In 2006, I saw my first competition on WNED Television and knew I had to participate.
When did you become the official artist for the competition?
HR: In 2008 I became the first Official Artist of the competition. My painting La Gytara Gytana became the official image of the competition.
How did you meet JoAnn Falletta?
HR: I wrote a letter to Maestro Falletta shortly after watching the 2006 competition on TV. She wrote back to me and I still have that letter, she is so awesome! We briefly met in 2007 but I can honestly say that our artistic relationship has flourished!
What inspired you to use the guitar theme?
HR: The architecture of the guitar is a multi-dimensional instrument. It has a universal message that we all carry within ourselves. This instrument helps me define what that story is, that emotion and how those colors come to play and become tangible and more importantly, how it makes you feel.
What inspired you to paint?
HR: Inspiration is universal it comes from personal experiences in life, genuine people impact me the most and music plays a key role in my work.
Did you paint as a child?
HR: I'm 40 years old and I still play with crayons. I never stopped!
What/Who inspires you to paint?
HR: There a few people that inspire me ... too emotional to mention.
Are you a musician?
HR: Yes, I am a frustrated musician but I use another media to express my music in color!
Do you like classical music?
HR: I love Classical music and like any art...I am still learning.
What composer inspires you?
HR: Jules Massenet
What piece of Classical music inspires you?
HR: I love the composition of Elegie (Massenet) very emotional and beautiful piece.
Do you have a special place in WNY that gives you inspiration?
HR: WNY has many great sites of architecture and it is well balanced with Nature. I like Niagara Falls, the sites and sounds are very powerful and nature has always been and will always be an inspirational place.
How long does it take for you to paint each portrait for the Competition?
HR: My work is getting larger and I usually work with multiple pieces at on a single time but it takes several months to complete a series of works.
Do you have a painting ritual (for example, do you listen to music when you paint, do you paint at night?)
HR: There is always all types of music playing when I paint and even when I am outside, the sound of nature is music. I used to paint in the evenings but now my painting schedules are based on feeling/inspirational energy and it is very spontaneous.
What do your paintings reveal about you?
That I take my creativity very seriously and I embrace the many things I believe in and the many things I have become through art.
Finally, what do you do when you are not painting?
HR: I really enjoy cooking, art exhibits, live music and charity events! I also like to be active outside riding my bike and few other sports.
The Mundo Guitarra (World Guitar) exhibit is available for viewing now through June 15, 2012. It is free and open to the public. For more information visit the WNED website. The JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition semifinals takes place at the WNED studios and will be live on WNED-TV and Classical 94.5 WNED at 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening. Tickets are still available for the semifinals and the finals at Kleinhans Music Hall.