HARLINGEN – When Terri Peralez was in the fourth grade, a substitute teacher changed her life.
The 62-year-old Brownsville resident remembers the moment like it was yesterday.
“We were a little out of hand and she told us to take out our history books and draw what is on the cover,” Terri said. “It happened to be Washington crossing the Delaware. I remember the book. I remember the drawing. That kept us quiet.”
But, most of all Terri remembers the words her substitute teacher spoke when she saw Terri’s drawing.
“She stopped at my desk and said, ‘You are an artist.’” Terri said of the day that changed her life. “It just opened things up.”
And, she’s run with it ever since.
Tomorrow night, Terri will be among several area artists to have work on display at the Harlingen Art Forum “Red, White and Blue” member competition and exhibition at the D’Arte Centre in Downtown Harlingen.
“I am loving this opportunity to come here,” Terri said about having her art in the gallery. “To get back into it where I can sell and show off my work, that is what I wanted.”
However, there was a time when Terri didn’t paint at all – for about 30 years.
Life was overwhelming at that time. She was married, working full time and had two children. She admits she is immersed in art when she is very happy or very sad, but during this time in her life, she was too busy to be either.
That all changed in 2011 when her mother died.
“I was sad for a long time,” she said. “In 2013, I started painting again, just one day.”
Since that moment, her painting has been nonstop.
Her art varies dramatically in subjects, from people, to animals, birds, flowers and much more. But, her preferred medium of acrylics and her style remains similar and is more impressionistic.
Her art is influenced by what is happening in her life, but her goal is always the same – to make a difference and give back.
“I am really happy, happy to be the age I am at,” she said. “My kids don’t need me anymore. I am divorced, doing my own thing. I have never been this happy and art is back in my life. It is part of that happiness.”
Terri was born in Mexico and immigrated with her family when she was 8 years old. About 11 years later, she became a United States citizen.
“I never thought I would go back to Mexico,” she said. “I wanted to be here and do things right. I think it was the best thing I could have done.”
Now, she’s living her dream every day.
“I wanted to go to school and do something with art,” she said.
She now has hopes to retire soon and spend nearly all of her time painting.
“I guess some people see selling their art as being successful,” Terri said. “I don’t see it that way. Success is being here today, being in a gallery was a goal and I am here. That is successful to me. I guess doing what you like and being proud of doing and being is success … a job well done.”
Her happiness ties in with her ultimate goal.
“I have read many times we leave this world a better place and that is a good mission to have,” she said. “That could be with a good son or a daughter, a good painting – something positive. If we do something good that is left behind, we have made the world a better place and I think I have done that with my artwork.”
If you go
WHAT: Harlingen Art Forum Red, White and Blue member competition and exhibition
WHERE: D’Arte Centre Gallery, 115 E. Jackson Street
WHEN: Tomorrow, Friday, June 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. The exhibit runs to July 19.
WHY: See great artworks with a “Red, White and Blue” theme. Awards will be presented. Money raised from the scholarships
Student summer art classes at the Harlingen Art Forum
July 15 to 19 and July 22 to 26
Ages 7 to 11, 10 a.m. to noon
Ages 12 and older, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Each session is $60 per student
The first week is devoted to drawing and composition.
The second week, students will produce a variety of paintings using techniques such as acrylic pour and marbling. All materials are provided.
Call Kathy Rinearson at (260) 578-2120