We had the good fortune of connecting with Fernando Reyes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Fernando, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I needed a change in career. After a 17 year career with Bank of America from branch banking operations to software development to my last positions as operations management for the banks bankruptcy accounts nationwide – I had enough. I prepared for my departure a year in advance and managed to leave debt free with money in the bank to start a new career in the arts. Having management experience was a real plus as I structured my day understanding that I needed to be productive and disciplined. Considering I was in my late 30’s I felt that I was still young enough to pursue the career I always dreamt of. I had an enormous learning curve to overcome but my perseverance was enough to see me through my trial and errors. I immediately enrolled at San Francisco City Collage and took as many art classes as possible. Eventually in 1993, I moved to Chicago with my partner Daniel (now husband) and applied to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I was accepted and graduated with a Bachelors fo Fine Art (BFA) degree in 1997. We moved back to California in the summer of 1997 thus my art career was in the making.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career has been varied throughout the years after graduating from The School of the Art Institute (SAIC) with a very strong portfolio influenced predominately by the human form (1997 – 2015). I was taught to paint in a representational style but I felt compelled to find my voice in a style I can call my own. My figurative paintings are straightforward and representational often depicting a single figure. Others, however, through the juxtaposition and overlapping of multiple figures can appear somewhat abstract. My most recent figurative work reflects a departure from the linear aspect in my earlier work, inviting figuration to move a step closer towards abstraction. At the time, my influences were varied from referencing old master drawings to the Bay Area Figurative movement. In 2015 a new direction in my art making happened after visiting MOMA to see “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs”. Unexpectedly, my figurative work took a back seat to what I’m currently producing today – abstract artwork in handprinted paper cutouts from mono prints specifically created as inventory to cut and paste. I’ve created mono prints for many years but the idea of cutting and collaging them took me through a creative journey expanding my artistic repertoire. This new work is an abstracted reflection of a myriad of images that has captured my imagination for years from art movements like Mid-Century Modern Art and Abstract Expressionism; from artists like Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly, and Rex Ray amongst others; and from my childhood memories growing up during the 60’s. I have not abandoned working from the nude figure. In fact, my interest is in marrying the two genres together in creating exciting and thought provoking work. What am I most proud of? In 2017, after many years of working from the nude figure I had my first abstract exhibition at Mercury Twenty Gallery in Oakland titled “Making The Cut”. During the exhibition the curator of the Mexican Museum in San Francisco visited the gallery to see my show and at that time I was offered an exhibition at the museum. The curator asked to visit my studio where he could see more of my work. He viewed early and current figurative and early landscape work. The exhibition at the Mexican Museum resulted in mounting a retrospective of my life work. “An Artist’s Evolution 1991 – 2017” which opened in January 2018. The highlight for me was having the honor of recognition for my achievements and to have publication interviews throughout the course of the year which included the cover art for CA Modern Magazine Fall Issue 2018 with a 5 page interview. I’ve had many successes throughout the years but it didn’t come easy. I’ve never failed in my career as a banker and I wasn’t about to let that happen as an artist, even in the most difficult of times. The challenge of working as a full-time artist can be difficult for many reasons. I had to endure the Dot Com Crash of 2000 and the Housing Market Crash of 2008 making it challenging to keep my studio open. Through my perseverance and work ethic I was able to work through those difficult times only to see tremendous success since my museum retrospective. As an artist you need to be able to ride the wave of uncertainty and success by keeping a balance in life and work. I remain positive for my artistic future as I try to keep my work fresh, interesting and current. I work with galleries, art consultants, art advisors and I license my artwork. I’ve been in many solo exhibitions/group shows throughout the years; a list of publications/awards with a vast collector base which continues to grow each year. In 2018 Daniel and I finally bought our first home in the Sierra Foothills in El Dorado County. A 10 acre property of oak, manzanita and pine trees along with occasional visitors e.g. deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, frogs, etc… inspiring new ideas in my art making. In 2020 I renovated a stand alone building on our property which is now my new art studio where I work everyday with my assistant Daisy (my dog). It’s taken many years to get to where I am today and I have no intention of slowing down as I look forward to new ideas and a promising outlook.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The Bay Area is the jewel of entertainment, food, culture and the arts. Assuming money and covid is not a problem here are a list of restaurants that I’ve dined in the past both in San Francisco and Oakland; Cotogna, The Slanted Door, Atelier Crenn, Quince, Gary Danko, State Bird Provisions, La Ciccia, A16, Bix. Zuni Cafe, Commis, CDP and Shakewell to name a few. Of course, I’ve listed some the higher end restaurants which obviously have left me with memorable dining experiences. I would select one or two of these restaurants to dine out with a special best friend. Gallery hopping and museums are a must. In Oakland, I would take in the art galleries in Uptown Oakland, Minnesota Street Project, Potrero Hill Galleries and Union Square art galleries in SF. A trip to the Oakland Art Museum, SF MOMA, Legion of Honor, De Young Museum, and The Mexican Art Museum (when it reopens in it’s new location). The performing arts; Theatre District in Union Square, Yerba Center for the Arts YBCA.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband Daniel Jackson deserves the credit for encouraging me to pursue my dream as a visual artist.