By Lydia Zilinsky – Collegiate Staff
ArtPrize is centered around the mutual appreciation of arts and culture, but it is much more than just the art represented. Almost more impactful than the pieces are the people of ArtPrize and the artists themselves.
There are countless stories of people coming from all over the world for many purposes to participate in this event, but one person in particular is 57 year old Alberto Gomez. He and his wife, Luz-Stella Gomez, are originally from Bogota, Colombia. They currently live in Deltona, Florida and have participated in ArtPrize for the past two years.
“Art is my religion,” Alberto explains passionately, “I believe in many things, of course, but my mind is only in art.”
His piece for this year’s ArtPrize is an acrylic mural on wood consisting of five panels for a total of 4 by 16 feet. The piece, titled “Sounds,” features musicians varying from 18th and 19th century artists to Gomez’s own grandson playing a guitar.
“Who makes music and how they do it, is a fascinating history,” Gomez said on the inspiration of the piece.
His appreciation of music and talent in art is evident in his mural. The layers of the acrylics show the hard work, that took Gomez eight months to complete, spending weeks on the layering of the sky alone.
“I am focusing on painting,” said Gomez, “It is my passion and my drive. But I also play music to inspire while I do it. I like Renaissance, Polk, Folk, much more. Blues is my favorite from the United States.”
Gomez says his inspiration comes from people, feelings, and noble causes.
Part of the reason this couple is in Grand Rapids is because of their very own noble cause. They have been working the early months of the summer here in Grand Rapids at the Boys and Girls Club. Alberto worked with the children’s artwork and created a mural for them titled, “My Future is Great.” Luz-Stella explained that if they receive any prize money from ArtPrize, a portion will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club.
Another more personal hope for the couple is to be able to help their families, including Luz-Stella’s recently discovered brother in Colombia. Growing up, she was raised by her aunt and was told that her mother had passed away. In recent years she discovered the truth about her family and that her mother was not who she thought. She spent time with Alberto traveling and researching in search of her mother.
This past January, the couple discovered her biological brother through a local radio station in St. Augustine, Colombia. It was an emotional experience as Luz-Stella and her brother met for the first time. She describes her brother’s home where he lives with his daughters as “humble” as she says they are very poor.
The Gomez dream of buying Luz-Stella’s brother a new home, as well as helping Alberto’s own children and grandchildren as much as possible.
Alberto is pleased to see observers of his piece respond with expressions and exclamations of wonder and awe.
They hope to “give back” through art and already have several other displays in their hometown planned for this month.
“Sounds” is located on the lower level of St. Cecilia Music Center at 24 Ransom Ave. NE.