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From painters and sculptors, Venezuelans begin to make art history in Gainesville

Artist Carlos Romero poses in front of his sculpture at the Gainesville Fine Arts Association. (Photo Maria Dickson/WUFT News)
Artist Carlos Romero poses in front of his sculpture at the Gainesville Fine Arts Association. (Photo Maria Dickson/WUFT News)

Venezuelan painters like Arturo Michelena, Luisa Palacios and Mercedes Pardo have left their mark on the history of Latin American art. Today, these artists are an inspiration for new talent whose work ranges from abstract art to realistic portraits. Carlos Romero is among the emerging Venezuelan artists who seek to highlight art, even as a foreigner. Every time he visits the United States, Romero seeks to exhibit his art because, in his home country, he said he feels it is more difficult to work as an artist due to the lack of local support. Romero said he discovered his artistic side at a young age, but it was when he was in his 20s that he decided to fully study it. “At the beginning of my career as an artist, I was dedicated to painting, where I ventured first as an autodidact. Then I spent two years at the Julio Arriaga School of Art. But when I saw sculpture exhibitions, I went crazy with sculpture and said 'no, this is my area,'" Romero said. “From there I have dedicated myself because, although I felt that I found the target, that was my profession, my art, my dedication. It is my passion,” Romero said. Although it has not been easy, Romero said that art was not his only job for a long time. At first, he was an art teacher at the University of Zulia.

“It is not an easy career. It is always a hard path. We artists can survive in many ways, but, generally, a poet or a sculptor has to have other professions,” shared Romero. Romero spent almost four years trying to exhibit his art on each of his visits to the United States. His first exhibit was in Miami in 2019. He said it is a blessing for him to have the opportunity to show his work even if he is not a resident of the country. Romero said he feels that an artist depends a lot on the opportunities that the country can offer. “Depending on the country you are in, it offers more or fewer opportunities and that helps. But in general, the artist has to do it practically alone,” said Romero. Even though it is not the first time Romero has shown his art in a gallery in the US, it is the first time his art is exhibited in Gainesville, and in a public entity like is Gainesville Fine Arts Association (GFAA). GFAA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting visual arts through exhibitions, workshops and programming for emerging and accomplished artists with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. “Basically in GFAA you have a membership, and you can exhibit your art whenever you want. So it is up to you if you want to do one (exhibit) or several a year,” Romero said. According to GFAA’s website, its goal is to provide artists with inspiration and opportunities for professional growth and to be recognized as a welcoming and vibrant center for visual art.

“I feel so proud that, little by little, our artists are transcending throughout frontiers, growing and expressing our culture. I’m glad that everyone can have an opportunity,” said Daniela Ruiz, a Venezuelan who lives in Gainesville and is familiar with Romero’s art from Venezuela. Arianna Uberti, who is also Venezuelan, is recognized for her illustrations in Gainesville. Uberti started creating art after an accident she had when she fell out of a tree, and from there she found her new passion. “Thanks to her, many people have a piece of Venezuela in them. Thanks to her art,” said Maria Barroeta, a Venezuelan student living in Gainesville. Uberti is not only dedicated to making paintings that represent Venezuela, but she said she is also inspired by Gainesville. “My paintings are happy illustrations because the idea is that, when people see them or get close to them, they put a smile on their face,” shared Uberti. Uberti said she decided to fully dedicate herself to her art after she started posting her drawings and she saw that people were quite receptive. “I thought, 'this can become something a little beyond just drawing,'” Uberti said. Uberti said she is happy to represent a part of herself and the Venezuelan community in Gainesville. “What you do becomes your identity. I am Arianna, but I am an illustrator, my art is me, it is what I do," said Uberti. She also participated in a contest online on a platform called Talent House where she submitted illustrations representing jazz and the city of New Orleans, and she won. Her first exhibit in Gainesville was in 2021. Uberti has created different art around Gainesville, and this month she started to paint a mural at Alachua County Animal Resources & Care.

Maria is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing