What Is Your Life’s Story?

“Our Story”. What is it? How much control do you have over it? San Antonio artist James Saldivar graciously shares a bit of his, unshy and thought provoking, take time to read, digest, and explore his work.


On the cusp of getting ready for a show, I’m always filled with feelings of the future. How will my work be perceived by the generations to come? The hopes of the work being mentally complex enough so that it gives to a generation the same thought provoking images that past modern master’s work of abstraction has to me. Through my eyes abstraction and the process of it has always had a mind of it own. The work will be. It’s going to do what its going to do. No matter what control you think you have, it’s nothing but a falsity, a lie your ego has told itself to put you at ease. Abstract work in essence is its own entity so to speak. It lives, it breathes, it gives life, and pushes us through progression. It is and always will be just what it is.


“I remember, back in my first studio trying to make the paint flow exactly the way I wanted it to, fighting it every step of the way.”


Not always pleased with the end result, I remember being back in my first studio trying to make the paint flow exactly the way I wanted it to, fighting it every step of the way. I was still learning. Learning in a metaphysical sense, what I had already known for years. I don’t have as much control as I think I do. This “learning to accept” is what has led me to the process I use today. I don’t push it; I don’t force the work. I’m always at work in my studio, the “main studio” as my friend Marc Weigand once said to me, “the one in your head, where it all begins.” I’ve learned to just let the work be. Of course this has taken years of messing up and ruining work to get to, but it’s all part of the process. Abstraction to me has always been emotional, a way of speaking words through color, at least that’s what I’ve always thought and what has drawn me towards painting styles of the Abstract Expression Movement of the ‘40’s-60’s. No matter what the iconology was, it always had a strong emotional background.


Growing up in San Antonio later in my adolescent life, I frequented the San Antonio Museum of Art quite a bit to sit and contemplate the work hanging on the walls way before I ever decided to take art on as a profession. Two paintings always stuck in my head. Of course, not realizing this until years passed, there they were, sitting in my subconscious and growing like a seed planted by the universe to push me to become what I am and lead me to my destiny. One, a piece by Frank Stella, “Double Scramble”, I saw for the fist time when I was about 15 years old. With its hard edge abstraction, its minimal palette, it still moved. The vibrating colors lifted off of the canvas and proceeded to fill me with such enjoyment of life, I fell in love and still visit it quite often.


Frank Stella,American, born 1936 
Double Scramble, 1968
Fluorescent alkyd on canvas
h. 69 in. (175.3 cm); w. 138 in. (350.5 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Brown Foundation, 76.27


The second, “Glow-Sprite” by Sam Gilliam. This painting broke ground in my head. Again, the colors moved but in a different way. The painting itself seemed to flow on the picture plane confined by its canvas. I was so intrigued by the process of this painting. His immaculate use of color that should have “mudded” but didn’t and it’s texture, with an imposto-like aesthetic, and the fact that he cut up a painting and reconfigured it’s pieces to make the painting we see today was just unthought-of to me. It transcended me; I began to see that we must learn the rules of engaging before we break them. Coming from a graffiti background, I was used to breaking every rule I could and even then the universe slapped me in the face and said “stop fighting, why do you want control so badly? Just be at peace and it will come together.” So again, I reiterate the relevance of emotion to me in abstract work and in my own work. Color is everything, it’s like our emotions x 20, the visualization of our feelings, and it is non-stop. New colors are made everyday much like our feelings.


Sam Gilliam, American, born 1933
Glow-Sprite, 1979
Acrylic and Rhoplex on canvas
h. 30 in. (76.2 cm); w. 40 1/4 in. (102.2 cm)
Gift of Elizabeth and Meyer Lifschitz in memory of Pearl and George Bronz, 97.6


My work will always be in feference to the many happenings that have and will be a part of my life. What has happened and what will happen because that is what it’s all about.


It’s what we are all about. Our story.


James Saldivar

NMDK Studio/Gaslyght Gallery

1906 S.Flores SA, TX 78204

www.jamessaldivar.com // wwwjamessaldivar01@gmail.com


James Saldivar
42” x 42”
Oil & Enamel on canvas
James Saldivar
24″ x 48″
Oil & enamel on birch
James Saldivar
“Shadows In the Sun”
36.25” x 48”
Oil and enamel on panel