The arts-based Latino outreach group, Taller Puertorriqueño, this week hosted print-maker Danny Alvarez at its building on 2721 N. Fifth St.
Alvarez’s prints and other artwork will be showcased by the Brandywine Workshop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art along with a host of other artists, said curator Shelly Langdale.
Alvarez lives and works in El Paso, Texas, but is a graduate of Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. His work focuses around his life experiences and background as a Mexican American and living on the Mexican-American border along the Rio Grande river.
“My art explores a lot of themes Mexicans deal with in America,” he said. “Catholicism, alcoholism, Americanization. A lot of my peers would be confused by my art – they wouldn’t get the cultural references. I would try to explain things to them, but if you haven’t lived it or seen it, you might never get it.”
Although his work at the museum will be prints, Alvarez makes a living by painting murals of movies, cartoons and other pop culture characters for businesses in El Paso. But at night, he works extensively on woodcuts that examine Mexican-American identity in the U.S.
“I would be working sometimes until 2 a.m., carving these woodcuts until my hands hurt,” he said. “A lot of people thought I ‘sold out’ by doing acrylic murals of Barney and Mickey Mouse for businesses, but they didn’t know what I was doing at night.”
Alvarez said although it’s been difficult at times, he’s happy with how far he and his art have come.
“I’ve beaten all the odds,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s not the end of the road. I guess the point is just to survive and keep doing what you love.”