SAN BENITO — From warriors and pyramids to jaguars and serpents, several symbols and motifs from ancient civilization can be found in this collection of artwork.

The San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum will host an opening reception for its latest exhibit “Indigenous Warriors and Rituals of Mesoamerica.”

The reception will be held Thursday, Feb. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. at 250 E. Heywood St. in San Benito.

The exhibit is comprised of close to 30 paintings and was created by Andy A. Villarreal, 65, an artist and art instructor from San Antonio.

The majority of the pieces are made to fit into organically shaped pieces of board and others are painted on traditionally stretched canvas.

“Andy Villarreal’s work provides an insight to a mysterious history stemming out of Central Mexico, one that many would consider the generations of today to be long disconnected from,” City of San Benito Cultural Arts Director Luis Contreras said. “Every piece is an opportunity to learn about an individual’s creative process that includes both history and mystery.”

According to Contreras, the exhibit brings educational value to the community and is a wonderful learning experience for the public.

“When I studied the Art of Pre-Conquest as an undergraduate, I learned that Mayans had remarkable insight into mathematics and astronomy, and other sciences such as medicine. I see that in Andy’s work,” Contreras said. “What I find most fascinating from an evolutionary perspective, is how intriguing their mathematical systems and worship of gods were and how we can compare them to today’s practices.”

The artist

For the past 20 years, Mexican culture has been a key source of inspiration for Villarreal.

“I’ve been to a lot of different places in Yucatan,” he said. “When I go there I feel a presence of something I feel connected to, which is very calm and peaceful.”

Ongoing themes in his artwork include history, mythology, religion and architectural elements.

Villarreal says the heartbeat of the culture is the roots of what his work represents.

“I try to embrace and celebrate the richness of the culture and its achievements, as well as the sadness of its demise,” Villarreal said. “Indigenous people and deities from Yucatan interact in varying times and places in my art.”

Coming up

The museum will also host a Gallery Talk with Villarreal Saturday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m.

Contreras said this is a great opportunity to learn more about the research behind the exhibit and to engage in discussion with the artist himself.

“A lot of the work that’s in there is very recent and I’ve never shown before,” Villarreal said. “So I’m really looking forward to the reception and the gallery talk.”

OPENING RECEPTION

WHAT — Indigenous Warriors and Rituals of Mesoamerica exhibit

WHEN — Thursday, Feb. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

WHERE — San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, 250 E. Heywood St.

COST — Free

EXHIBIT ENDS — Friday, March 20

For more information, call (956) 281-0810.

GALLERY TALK

WHEN — Saturday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m.

ARTIST — Andy A. Villarreal

WHERE — San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, 250 E. Heywood St.

COST — Free