Imagery artwork: San Benito Museum features “Preoccupations” exhibit

Artist and UTRGV Arts Department lecturer Paul Valadez is seen organizing his artwork before putting it on display in the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum. Courtesy photo

SAN BENITO — From food such as tacos and burritos to a variety of text and depictions of people, art enthusiasts will be able to witness a variety of pieces that showcase a unique twist and flair.

The San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum’s latest exhibit “Preoccupations” features an assortment of acrylic paintings by Edinburg resident Paul Valadez.

Originally from California, Valadez moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 2004 and works as a full-time lecturer in the Arts Department at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

“ I was invited to display some of my artwork,” Valadez said. “I was very excited about the opportunity to be able to do this.”

The exhibit comprises 24 art pieces altogether, but some of the pieces are made up of several different parts.

Valadez said most of the artwork was created this year.

“ It’s from the coronavirus lockdown, where I was sheltering in place and all the restaurants were closed,” Valadez said. “Of course, if you can’t get anything, that’s all you want and I kept thinking about Mexican food and restaurants so this was part of the thing that I was painting, an imaginary idea of this food.”

Valadez describes himself as an image maker rather than a narrative painter, who tells a story.

“ The great and wonderful thing about imagery, is that you’re free to think anything you want when you see it,” he said. “These are things that interest me.”

Valadez said his goal has been to make art, as a Mexican American artist, that challenges viewers’ preconceived notions of what Mexican American art can be.

“ I would really like them to come without a preconceived idea,” he said. Without any ideas of what it’s going to be so they see the images, whatever they feel or think, is perfect.”

The exhibit will be on display now through Aug. 7.

The museum is located at 250 East Heywood St. in San Benito.

Due to COVID-19 precautionary measures, the museum gallery will be available to the public Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.

The hours of 10 a.m. to noon are reserved for those with potential health vulnerabilities.

The City of San Benito Cultural Arts Department, is asking visitors to cooperate with the following rules when visiting the museum — masks are required to enter the facility, do not enter if feeling ill, wash hands before and after visiting the facility and practice social distancing.

For more information about the exhibit or upcoming virtual content events, contact the Visitor Information Center at (956) 281-0810.

ahernandez@valleystar.com