Emigdio Vasquez

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Emigdio Vasquez (Arizona 1939 - ) is an American artist and muralist. His artistic works and photorealistic style are studied and appreciated by art critics nation-wide. He is often recognized for his mural The Legacy Of Cesar Chavez.

Early life[edit]

Born in the mining town of Jerome, Arizona, his father worked for Phelps Dodge copper mines. In the early 1940s they moved to Orange, California. In kindergarten at Killefer Elementary, he began developing an interest in art. He copied the drawings in comic books and base them on stories his father told him about the Mexican Revolution. In the late 1950s he took up oil painting. In the mid-1960s, inspired by Diego Rivera, he painted his first mural, in his parents' patio. In 1979 he earned a Master of Fine Arts degee. His works have appeared in some of the milestone exhibitions of Chicano art, including the 1975 "Chicanarte" exhibit at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and in UCLA's "Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation" in 1990. He was featured artist at the 2002 Orange County Fair and received an award for his painting "Obreros" at California's State Fair, Sacramento.

Emigdio earned an Associate of Arts degree from Santa Ana College before transferring to California State Fullerton University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts. In 1979, for his Master’s Degree thesis project, Emigdio painted an 85-foot by 64-foot mural as a tribute to the Chicano working class, complete with figures modeled after his father as a miner and other relatives and friends as field workers and laborers.

Emigdio has drawn upon and transformed photographs into a body of work that documented and commented on the daily life of working people in the barrio. With painstaking skills, he recorded the urban experience, unsentimental and with dignity, neither glorifying nor criticizing. Emigdio has created over 400 paintings and 22 murals in Orange County. His work can be recognized by the ‘super-realistic’ style, historical transitions, and common person themes.

Emigdio has taught in the art department at Santa College, and managed a major public arts program for the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, and the California Arts Council, as well as the City of Santa Ana where he created an 85-foot long mural at the Orange County Transportation Center in Santa Ana. In 1996, he received an Artist Fellowship from the Adolph and Ester Gottlieb Foundation in New York.

Emigdio’s most recognized mural is the “Legacy of Cesar Chavez,” which is located in the lobby of the Cesar Chavez Business and Computer Center in Santa Ana College. Some of Emigdio’s favorite subjects are people in their environments that reflect a slice of time in history – from orange pickers to Zoot Suits and Pachucos to famous labor leaders, to street scenes. He also enjoys still life and landscape painting, as well as his portraits. His diversity of subject matter and style place him in a select class of artists that transcends the traditional “pigeonhole” description that most artists are assigned.

Emigdio had three paintings hanging in the residence of the US Ambassador to the United Nations stationed in Rome, Italy. He completed a mural at Cal State Fullerton recognizing their 50 year anniversary and the EOP. In addition, he was recognized as one of fifty examples of successful graduates of Cal State Fullerton. He has retired from painting, due to ill health. Many of his works can be seen, with some for purchase, at 1artstore.com.

Personal life[edit]

Vasquez is the father of six children. His son, Emigdio Jr Carlos "Higgy" Vasquez is also an artist, and has assisted him on several mural projects. His ex-wife, Rosie Lopez Schelerth, has written much about Vasquez's early life and their marriage in her autobiography Hi! My Name is Chicken.

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