Self-taught artist Al Borrego – is a natural
By Joe Olvera ©, 2012
Al Borrego is a natural – artist, that is. Borrego didn’t create his first painting until June, 2007, when he was 51 years old. He hadn’t once touched a brush or a canvas before then. He took a couple of art classes in school, but that was for credit, he says with a chuckle. Today, Borrego is one of El Paso’s better known artists, focusing on animals, but branching out into other subjects, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, and the canals in Venice, Italy. His favorite subjects, however, are animals. Is it any wonder that his first ever painting was a ram? “I didn’t like the way my den looked when I was re-decorating,” Borrego said. “I asked my daughter, Ramsey, who is an artist to do something. She said, yes, but, you know how kids are. They say yes, but, it takes them forever. So, I decided to take a stab at it. I did that painting in 45 minutes and, surprise, surprise, it turned out really well. I decided then to continue painting and that’s what I’m doing now.” Borrego says that his first love is painting animals and the zebra is his trademark. “I have a love for exploration and an interest in change and growth – that love is what inspires me as a painter.
“In each moment of painting, one is required to explore and let go of the fear of change and outcome. Painting is the most magnificent teacher and requires that we live in the peaceful state of moment to moment consciousness. That which connects me – to joy.” Borrego said that he is an animal lover. He chose as his first subject a ram because he wanted to do exotic animals. His gallery is now filled with paintings of giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers, as well as sunsets, desert landscapes and even what could be considered avant-garde images.
A self-taught artist, Borrego has already exhibited in several galleries and other venues. He has lived in Europe and in other parts of the United States. An award winner, Borrego is the recipient of the 2010 McDonald’s Hispanos Triunfadores Award for the Arts. He served as the president of the El Paso Arts Association in 2010, belongs to the Juntos Art Association, the El Paso Museum of Art, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, among others, and today is the vice-president of the San Elizario Artists Guild.
“We’re doing great in San Eli,” Borrego said, where his gallery is located at 1501-C, Main Street. “We’ve got over 30 artists who have their studios here and we also represent over 100 artists. We recently had the re-enactment of the Juan de Onate’s crossing of the river and that drew many people. San Eli is gaining a reputation as the place to go for a dose of El Paso history. Everyone’s doing well. My work addresses the vision between my muse and the canvas – which is driven by eye appeal and attention to detail. Life is beautiful as it is, without a need for embellishment or simplification. “The intention of my work is to convey the beauty of nature by representing it as accurately as possible. There is nothing more satisfying than to capture the essence of an animal within a single image, to feel the life in an inanimate painting, to look into the eyes of a painting and see the animal’s soul. Utimately, both the creation and observation of art are highly personal experiences. Done well, art yields a benefit to both the artist and the viewer.”