HARLINGEN – Her thick black hair falls restlessly to her shoulders.
The light blue top, covered with playful images of prickly pear blooms and lotus flowers, drops away from a body grown heavy through lack of care. She frowns through puffy eyes, hand at her chin.
Sure signs of sadness, but the bright blue of the top and the dancing flowers reveal a statement about the brutal brevity of life and the moment of joyous wonder interlaced through it all.
That’s one of the statements Josie Del Castillo seems to be making in the work she’ll present June 30 at Beyond Arts Gallery at 114 North A. St,
“I want it to reflect more of my days of my insecurities,” said Del Castillo, a Brownsville resident. Del Castillo is working on her master’s of fine arts at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley. Her show, “Mirrors: A Solo Exhibit by Josie Del Castillo” at the gallery will feature film photography, digital photography and portraits on wood panels.
“I have a lot of depression, anxiety, low self esteem, all these negative things, and I wanted to sort of reflect them and use these people as mirrors to reflect those emotions,” Del Castillo said.
However, that doesn’t mean reflecting them in a negative way.
“I don’t want to paint people crying, I don’t want to paint people in a way that makes people say, ‘Oh, it’s a very depressing painting,’” she said. “I want them to see it and say, ‘Oh it’s a very beautiful painting.’”
Beautiful, she explained, isn’t necessarily happy or sad. It just is. It’s the beautiful with the tragic, the pain, the happiness and the harsh realities that create a lucidity crucial to a mature artist.
It is this power that prompted Jessica Salazar-McBride, director of the gallery to exhibit Del Castillo’s work.
“She’s an oil painter and she does hyper realistic paintings,” said Salazar McBride. “We haven’t really had anybody like that here.”
Del Castillo has used many of her own social connections for her portraits.
“Usually I use subjects that are friends or acquaintances, and I use people that I can sort of relate to, whether it’s something that I look up to them for, or whether it’s their beauty, their accomplishments, their personality,” Del Castillo said. “They’re usually female but I’ve also done some male subjects.”
Her male portraits are equally moving.
The work, “We’re Always Changing” depicts a young man with sad brown eyes and short stubble on his round strong chin. His thick hair is slightly untamed. What grabs the viewer’s attention – at least one of the things – is that the face seems to have been sliced by a paper cutter. The disturbance isn’t extreme, but it’s impossible to miss.
Even more moving is another portrait which seems to reveal the same young man. Yet in that work he presents a somewhat more confident, even cocky look.
Certainly we are always changing, and the manner in which Del Castillo expresses that change in her work has impressed Salazar McBride.
“Some of the work is just incredible,” she said. “The eyes are just mesmerizing. It’s just incredible.”
WHAT: Reception for “Mirrors: A Solo Exhibit by Josie Del Castillo”
WHEN: 6 p.m., June 30, on Harlingen Art Night
WHERE: Beyond Arts Gallery
114 North A. St., Harlingen
ADMISSION: Free of Charge