Artist Makes His Mark in Business and on Canvas

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AJ Rodriguez looks over a piece of his new his new body of work titled 'Figuras'.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

AJ Rodriguez looks over a piece for his forthcoming exhibit "Figuras."

Leaning against the walls of a studio on Lone Star Boulevard, the oversize paintings that will make up next weekend’s opening exhibit of San Antonio artist AJ Rodriguez’s most recent work invite interpretation. What you see in his bold use of color, smooth textures, and the abstract figures that seem to be in motion on the canvas will be exactly right, every single time.

The same could be said of the artist himself.

“What is most pleasing to me through this venture is seeing what others see in this work,” Rodriguez said. “When you see another’s viewpoint, the impressions they have, the visuals they get, I’m always amazed. And if you see it, that’s great. That’s what I’m trying to inspire in others – developing their own creative lens.”

Growing up in San Antonio, Rodriguez began sketching as far back as he can remember, often on the cardboard packaging from his grandmother’s pantyhose. Though he attended some summer art classes at the McNay Art Museum, art wasn’t his focus.

“This was a passion that was hidden for a long time,” Rodriguez explained. “In high school (at Central Catholic), it was about making sure I passed so I could play sports. In college, it was all about grades.”

What most see in Rodriguez, by day, is a man who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Texas at San Antonio, which named him Alumnus of the Year in 2008, and who built a successful career in government relations with jobs at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the City of San Antonio.

So although he’s currently an executive with a major San Antonio company and a married father of three, like others before him on the local business stage – names like Lionel Sosa, Ricardo Romo, and Omar Rodriguez  come to mind – he’s also an artist who invests his time and resources in both pursuits – art and business – with equal devotion.

AJ Rodriguez poses for a portrait with his new body of work titled 'Figuras'.

Scott Ball / rivard Report

AJ Rodriguez poses for a portrait with a piece from his new exhibit “Figuras.”

“I have a passion for both. And I can’t imagine doing one without the other,” Rodriguez said. “Now that I’m doing this, people ask me how I find the time for anything. But people own boats, people go out and play golf, or go to movies. I do art. You find the time.”

Calling himself an emerging artist, Rodriguez is grateful for the support of the San Antonio art community and other more established artists who have critiqued his work, some of which is currently displayed at the Plaza Club and on loan to UTSA.

“It’s a great area to learn your craft and get better, and the Lone Star Arts District is, in many ways, that new place that’s serving as an incubation point for many emerging artists and a point of establishment for many artists to be a mentor for others,” he added.

Rodriguez lives in the King William home once owned by his great grandfather, but leases studio space in the district from renowned local artist Jesus Toro Martinez. The spare space features a few bare walls with drop cloths on the cement floor surrounding a small work bench. It was there on a recent evening he opened his sketchbook to explain the creative process.

AJ Rodriguez work that will be on display

Courtesy / AJ Rodriguez

Two large works by AJ Rodriguez that will be on display Friday, Jan. 13 at the Radius Center.

Pen and pencil drawings, appearing as rough sketches on restaurant receipts or the odd cocktail napkin from Southwest Airlines, spilled from the book and date back to previous exhibits, one themed South Texas birds and another, the San Antonio River Walk.

“Once I find that theme and I really know that’s what I want to do, it all starts to click into place, the work just flows as a result of finding the right piece of inspiration,” he said. “A lot comes from a central idea, and that is finding the extraordinary out of the ordinary. It’s a constant interest of mine.”

His upcoming show Figuras, which opens Friday, Jan. 13 at 6 p.m at the Radius Center, 106 Auditorium Circle, is more minimalistic in style than his previous works. Using two to three colors of metallic acrylic on large canvases – or paper for smaller paintings – the works and the show’s title represent the shape, form, and movements of the human figure. Curated by Joan Grona, the show continues through April 14.

“My goal is to have a collection of work that people say has inspired them to seek out their own creativity in other outlets in different ways,” Rodriguez said. “(I’m) trying to develop a level of consistency in regard to quality and my own style so that it’s recognizable and featured.”

17 thoughts on “Artist Makes His Mark in Business and on Canvas

    • I have frequented the Lone Star Art District for at least 7 years, this has been an incubation site for artists from around the world. This is a must SEE destination for San Antonio. This is not only a 2nd Saturday venue, but a world renowned facility for artists.

    • Not only does Lonestar Arts District absolutely exist, but it exists as one of the most vibrant areas for cutting edge artistic expression in all of the city. Southtown, on the whole, is not an arts district, and the corner of S Flores and Lonestar Blvd (where the majority of the Lonestar Arts district flourishes) is completely outside of Southtown.

  1. Im reading in the comments that someone is confused… we are not in Southtown, this is The Lone Star Art District. Everyone is welcome at 107 Lone Star Blvd. Lone Star Art Space

    Toro

    • Jesus, with all respect one studios claim to be an Arts District does not make it an Arts District. We have worked for 20 years in our area to make it a larger idea with all of what makes us collectively SOUTHTOWN THE ARTS DISTRICT (sastad.com) of which Lone Star Studio Artist Bill Fitzgibbons is a member of. We are and have been an incubator for the arts for 20 years at the 1906. We live, work and share our artists in the community. We are committed and have worked hard to have started and establish the Second Saturday event for all of us to enjoy.Please reach out to learn more about our mission.

      • Lone Star Nabohorhood Association has monthly meetings and I’m a member of so please join us… this is where ideas and concept for the area are develop. It’s open to the public. The Lone Star Art District is outside of Southtown. So join us for 2nd Saturday art walk. 107 Lone Star Blvd.

    • I believe it is always respectful to acknowledge the efforts of those that have preceded you and allowed opportunity to come your way. Perhaps a better way to make your statement above would have been, “You are invited to the Second Saturday Artwalk founded 20 years ago. Thanks to the efforts of my colleagues Andy Benavides, Joe Lopez and Alberto Mijangos we now have a thriving, vibrant corner and artwalk for our city to experience. I am proud to be an active, vital contributor with Lone Star Studios. As a proud member of Southtown The Arts District and my contribution with Lone Star Studios over the last 7 years I look forward to building a wider community, alongside my neighbors, for the city to benefit from. ” Bill, I appreciate you and all that you have built up with Lone Star Studios and I recall you being on board with the Southtown Arts District mission when we had our stakeholder meeting. Thank you for your membership and your support of Southtown Arts District’s wider vision that encompasses schools, restaurants, bars, creative spaces, public art and support for our members. Long after we are all gone, we can be proud of what we have built up together.

      • Still confused with Southtown… Southtown is over by Rosarios Restutaunt… we are at Lone Star Art Distict the other side of the railroad tracks. The hart of Lone Star Art District is the corner of Lone Star Blvd. & South Flores, the other side of the railroad tracks.

        • We are sensitive to this topic of discussion. We appreciate the comments made and hope there is a willingness to study the history of this community and understand where it’s origin stemmed from. There are many new faces and community that have evolved around this area and with much enthusiasm we embrace their support for us as artist. In the last 10 years more eyes definitely on our area, so there is the assumption of the history without real knowledge of how and when it started. We are here as a reminder of community building and arts education as a resource for all of our city supporters. SOUTHTOWN is a five square mile area. North to South/Cesar Chavez to HWY 90/ andEast to West 35 to 37. We look forward to sharing more Jesus and appreciate your passion and commitment in our community.

  2. From reading in the comments section, It seems that some is confused where Lone Star Art Dist is . Lone Star Art Space is at 107 Lone Star Blvd, San Antonio, TX.78204. In the hart of Lone Star Art Distict.
    Everyone is welcome.

  3. Congratulations AJ.. Great article. Thank you Rivard Report for providing on going support for the arts and artists of San Antonio.

    • Understood. AJ is a friend and it was disrespectful to allow my frustration with the articles language to interrupt his acknowledgement as an artist making his mark. He’s a fellow artist and a neighbor who’s work we respect. Thanks Polo for chiming in and grounding my emotions.

      • That’s cool…

        We, however, should not forget the contribution you guys have made…to paraphrase a country song…you were Southtown before Southtown was cool.

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