Enrique O. Sanchez: Have Brush, Will Paint
Enrique O. Sanchez has always painted for a living, responding to the demands of survival with wit, skill, and a paintbrush, whatever the circumstances. He was born into a creative family in 1942, in the Dominican Republic, raised in a 500-year-old house in the capital city of Santo Domingo. His father was the director of the Columbus Museum and his sister a concert pianist. As a young boy, Enrique painted murals on the walls of his room. "They let me do it ... kings, saints, Donald Duck, whatever."
He studied architecture at Santo Domingo University and painting at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. Then, as Enrique describes it, "Things started to happen. There were riots, and the University was closed. I got a job at the first television station in the Dominican Republic. I painted backdrops, illustrated ads, and began painting for a living, which I have done all of my life."
Sanchez moved to New York City when, as a young, revolutionary student, it became too politically dangerous for him to remain in his country. He worked as a percussionist in the city whenever he could, and began to study painting at Pels Art School. When the money for tuition ran out, the school hired him to teach. He also worked freelance creating dioramas at the Brooklyn Aquarium, painted theatrical scenery for Broadway shows, and was a graphic artist for Sesame Street in the early years of the show. "There was a five-story spiral staircase at Sesame Street. I was always running up and down the stairs carrying props, monkey hats, everything."
While painting sets for summer theater in Ogunquit, Maine, Enrique met his wife, choreographer and dancer Joan Sanchez. She later joined several New York dance companies and studied and taught with Eric Hawkins. Looking for the country life after awhile in the city, the couple moved to Bar Harbor, Maine, where Enrique painted signs and -- while hanging from the sides of boats -- painted vessels' names and designs on their transoms. It was also during their time in Maine that Sanchez' figurative work started to sell, and he received his first contracts for multicultural childrenÕsÕ book illustrations. Their son, Aron Sanchez, born in Bar Harbor, is also a professional artist and has enjoyed a career designing and building fantastic instruments for the musical Blue Man Group.
Enrique and Joan moved to northern Vermont in 2000, then decided to relocate to Brattleboro in 2008, where they sought out a community of artists to inspire their creative life. "It's been great. Joan has been teaching at Luminz Studio, and the Museum's Artists' Potlucks have been a great resource for connecting to the scene here. We were amazed at how many artists are here."
Sanchez' paintings, which have journeyed from representation to abstraction, are included in private and corporate collections throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe and Latin America. He has been represented at a number of international art expositions and is an award-winning illustrator with many picture books in print by major publishers.
Enrique takes a new direction with the body of abstract works, all conceived and painted this year, that are showing at Gallery in the Woods (145 Main St., Brattleboro) through the end of August. "These are truly an emergence from a concentrated, internal space -- free-flowing, conceived in total inspiration, outside of market demands.Ó" The acrylic canvases are intricately layered with floating organic forms, in tropical, almost undersea colors.
"I love working on my paintings ... they are full of surprises," says Enrique. "I start painting with no predetermined destination in mind. As I push paint around, all kinds of images from my visual experiences come forth and, as I paint them, they evolve into other images. It is like discovering things in the clouds in the sky; they keep changing as you look at them. Eventually, I find well-defined entities interacting with each other in a free association."
The public is invited to meet the artist at a Gallery Walk reception on Friday, July 3, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For further information, call (802) 257-4777; preview the show at www.galleryinthewoods.com.
Copyright 2009, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont