Star of the show: Frank Ayala celebrates his first-ever solo art exhibit at Kreepy Kawaii Designs in downtown Merced.
Professor Gomez enjoys a complementary glass of wine from Cardella Winery.
The eye is a common theme in many Ayala artworks. He refers to the eye as “the perception of reality”.
“Solo Art Show” will be open to the public until April 15.
Frank Ayala remembers a time when he practically waved his artwork in front of passing cars and people on the sidewalks of Main Street in Merced. Now, years later, he’s the focus of his very first art exhibit at downtown gallery Kreepy Kawaii.
“Solo Art Show”, as Ayala called it, is currently on display at the gallery located at 1742 Canal Street. It will be visible, free to the public, until April 15. Artist Merced had his reception last Friday. Wine served by Cardella Winery was offered to guests, along with snacks and sweets, to complement the celebration.
“I’m not used to it,” laughed Ayala as she explained the experience of attending her very first reception. “I don’t paint to show, but there’s a part of me that really loved it.”
Bright yellows, oranges and greens stand out against a dark blue and purple sky. Trees, vines, eyes and religious figures are at the center of each piece showcasing work that almost seems to come out of a psychedelic dream.
“During my artistic life, I have researched many artists,” says Ayala. “I also explored many painting methods. I have spent countless hours contemplating art and its relationship to me, and its importance to life in general. I realized that the more I become an “artist”, the less I understand.
Vulnerability, storytelling and intention are at the forefront of her work. The collection of artwork for “Solo Art Show” are pieces he has worked on over the years. Some old, some new and some not even finished.
“As a creative person, you have this awareness of the people and places and things in which you look at things. For example: a tree, and you watch how the sun moves around the tree, and how it casts its shadow on the leaf. And you look at that tree in a way that others might not see.
The eye is a common theme in Ayalas’ work.
“It’s the connection of the eye to the brain and the soul. As a visual artist, that’s it. The way you see life, the perception of reality, is throughout your life.
“I’ve always been creative,” Ayala said of her influences. “As a child, I always took things apart. My mother was very artistic and creative, she let me ruin everything. She let me write on the walls and I had this freedom in which I was never told, “No, don’t do that”.
Ayala taught at Le Grand High School for 24 years as an art teacher retiring in 2019. He was born in Merced and grew up living on the South Side. He remembers always being excellent in school, excelling in most of his subjects – with the exception of his freshman year taking art classes at Merced College.
“I never took art because I never really got into it. When I went to college I was taking all these classes and I had to take art classes because it was compulsory for humanities… and I got a C.… I never took art seriously because I was always good at math and wanted to do something in science. I’ve always been curious. I have a very curious nature – and I always have.
He was shocked by his C. Considering his nature, at that moment, Ayala’s curiosity peaked. The art, and trying to master it, was the ultimate challenge that set the choice apart from anything he had ever taken.
“There was no ‘Open the book, let’s read, let’s get to the chapter…’ It was more like, OK, you just did this, what now? It motivated me to want to conquer the subject.
Ayala later majored in art and earned her master’s degree in art at Fresno State.
He attributes his perseverance and success in education to the fact that he always has to work harder than others around him just to prove his worth.
“You have to try twice as hard to get half the recognition,” Ayala told me, explaining how vital that saying was to him growing up in Chicano in Merced in the 1970s.
“Because of that mentality, I did very well.”
Presenting his works was not easy during and after this period. He was not asked to show himself. He had no connection with the arts. In the end, he wasn’t even trying to make money from it, but he wanted to share the work he created with the public.
“Do arts for the sake of doing it,” he stressed. “We never really cared if people were going to react or buy it because that wasn’t our reality. I kept doing it out of love. »
Shortly after, he formed the Contemporary Humanitarian Artist Association (CHAA), alongside his friends Ruben Sanchez and Abel Corchado, in 1985.
CHAA’s mission is to “raise awareness and appreciation of the importance of the visual arts in our lives, in our community and in society as a whole”.
Thanks to CHAA, the three friends were able to form important friendships and relationships with other artists who share the same ideology. Now in its 37th year, members include several local educators and artists who live in other areas.
“I look at Ruben, he looks at me, and I just think, ‘WHAT?! When did all this happen? It’s crazy the things we’ve been through and now we see all the young artists coming up and we’re so impressed and happy.
“Solo Art Show” will be presented until April 15. Kreepy Kawaii Gallery hours of operation are Tuesday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and Fridays, 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Call the store at (209) 354-6067.