Ana Fernandez

At Blue Star: Blue Star Painters II

Posted on November 06, 2016

Steve Bennett

September 21, 2012

Ana Fernandez paints cinematic scenes of her hometown — a pickup parked out front of a West Side cottage — but her sensibility is more David Lynch than Disney.

“I combine familiar domestic elements with subtle, sometimes eerie, hints of the unknown,” says the local artist, one of eight in “San Antonio Painters II,” through Nov. 17 at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center.


Following on the heels of the popular summer show “San Antonio Painters,” part two also features the work of Bryson Brooks, Chrys Grummert, Megan Harrison, Chris Sauter, Corbin Spring, Cornelia White Swann and Jason Willome.

The exhibition was again juried and curated by Barbara MacAdam, deputy editor of ARTnews magazine, who reviewed slides from more than 130 local artists and made numerous studio visits.

“It's very distinctive work,” she said, “hovering between abstraction and figuration, continually moving back and forth.”

From Swann's “luscious and sexy” pure abstraction to Brooks' grids to Harrison's large representation of a rat (it will haunt your dreams), the exhibition offers a wide cross section of San Antonio painters.

“You go someplace and you think, ‘Oh, this stuff is going to be so derivative,' but then you discover some very interesting work and by the end you are completely taken in,” MacAdam said of her San Antonio experience.



Hither and Thither: A Curatorial Juxtaposition of Environment vs. Aesthetics

Posted on November 05, 2016

By Gabriel Diego Delgado

Hither and Thither
A Curatorial Juxtaposition of Environment vs. Aesthetics
Artwork of Darrell Roberts and Candace Briceño

-San Antonio, TX. Hither and Thither, a two person exhibition at Joan Grona Contemporary Art Gallery that opens Sept. 1, 2011 and runs through the month is the brain-child of Guest Curator and San Antonio talent, Ana Fernandez. Her first guest curatorial endeavor, Fernandez eloquently weaves a web of playful pictorial deceit with a color and theoretical apposition of environment acting as leading contextual elements in a comprehensively critical and analytical exhibition. Working on several conceptual levels, Hither and Thither takes the viewer through an overwhelmingly quantitative world of heavily textured paintings divvied with incongruously drawn and dreamy, Neverland-channeling artworks.
Darrel Roberts, inspired by the ever present construction-site landscape of the “Urban” spread of Chicago, creates works of art that successfully attempt to capture that unrelenting buzz and hum of the inner city Chicago heartbeat. On the other hand, Magic Hat #9, a drawing series is a composite of 24 works on paper that metaphorically mimics the late evening and nocturnal sensibility of rural Vermont. Fernandez couples this visual display of pure painterly emotion with a new and fresh, but border-line poignantly playful and garishly distorted Wonderland-esque landscapes by Austinite Candace Briceño.
Taking all aspects of view-ability into account, Fernandez captures a kind of curatorial cornucopia, doing justice to these two unique artists by finely walking the ultimate and questionably ethical art based curatorial role of when does the “organizer” stop being a Curator and cross that hampered line to Installation Artist. Fernandez’s ability to analyze audience demeanor plays a concrete role in her aesthetic decisions of how and why to hang the overall exhibition. Working with 50 plus paintings by Darrell Roberts, Fernandez’s decision to anticipate a right to left viewing enabled her to think conceptually and intuitively when hand-picking the individual paintings. Then expressively designing an exhibition wall composition reminiscent of what she visualizes as a whimsical explosion of a dandelions blowing in the wind; a concentrated curatorial effort to display an asymmetrical but fairly random alignment. This is all achieved by building up the arrangement of canvases to a larger cluster of overpowering and multi-layered cityscapes, popping in very small and randomly placed paintings. These miniscule artworks are subtly different than their immediate company, in that at their core they exist only to capture a few moments in time when the artist’s eye rests for a minimal amount of time on arbitrary peripheral elements like building facades, water reflections, horizons and other miscellaneous banality.
Roberts makes sure we are all well aware of his coveted artistic lineage to the historical forefathers of Abstract Expressionism-with his deliberate color soirees; emotionally driven abstract paintings that take on aspects of sculpture, but hold true to a two dimensional security. Roberts comments on his ability to “condense the Macho Man” of the Abstract Expressionist era and micro-size the scale, but maintain the signature expressive attributes of overall composition and gestural flare.
Featured on the right wall of the gallery, Candace Briceño’s art has trouble holding ground to such adjacent color explosions. However, her minimally hued agave sculptures convey an organic responsiveness to the exhibition; that up until now was an absent artistic contribution. Her simplistically brilliant and ephemeral sense of nature is only reinforced by her material choice. Felt, a fabric lending itself to a distinct look and feel is the perfect selection for sculpture- albeit an entirely opposite characteristic of the real deckled leaf features of this native plant. White, with one color accents, these carefully constructed Oldenberg-ish sculptures are a breath of relief and a much needed visual break in this color saturated environment.
On pedestals placed through-out the gallery sit Briceño’s mushroom sculptures; eloquently contrasting the garish and gritty paintings of Roberts. Potentially threatened by his overpowering and parasitically pigmented painterly pieces, Briceño’s clean linear seams and meticulous constructive qualities of the fungi prove to be key components that highlight the artist’s intention on overall presentation. Evident is her intuitive understanding of artistic gestalt; fluid are her aesthetic decisions concerning such cartoony and suggestive low-brow subject matter.
Solidifying this first curatorial effort is Ana Fernandez’s choice to create a visual juxtaposition on the immediate left wall of the gallery space. A wall never used to capacity previously, Fernandez is able to maximize spatial limitations while creating an environment that changes the meaning of both artists work into a curatorial derived environment. Roberts’ drawings from the Magic Hat #9 series make up a pictorial grid- now construed into a visual assimilation of an all too familiar skyscraper facade. Systematically placed in front of this wall is the larger of two agave plant sculptures, titled Agave #1. Now more decorative landscaping and curb appeal aesthetic than artist owned imagery, this Austin based sculptor’s intent is assimilated into an overall visual cue- organized by one curator’s vision.
In the end, a one local’s curatorial revelation plays a solid hand against two poker faced artists, each grappling with a hidden sense of communal acceptance and environmental analysis; eluding to a distorted but inviting artistic paradise.

Critique: Paintings by Ana Fernandez create hybrid of South Texas culture and surrealism

Posted on November 05, 2016

Intern, UTSA Art Collection

By Lenora Weakley

March 9, 2011

Ana Fernandez subtly, but surely captures a bit of the old masters into her contemporary work. Fernandez creates a hybrid of South Texas culture and surrealism. The artist recently showed a series of oil paintings at the Joan Grona Gallery in the Blue Star Arts Complex.

Fernandez' eerie mood is inspired by Goya, but the artist's methods for rendering a mysterious sensation are her own. Fernandez uses a great amount of contrast, greatly appealing to one's curiosity. Several paintings show houses decorated for festivities, but there is no one there to celebrate, a house is painted in a cheery palate, but just above it ominous birds are rising toward the sad sky. Along with using juxtaposition, the artist's technique is crucial to creating a theatrical tone.

There are more than enough clues to start a narrative, such as a clock in an odd place by the door, a crime scene ribbon across a harmless looking home, a window where there is a picture of a ship on a stormy sea. A puzzling, yet incomplete, storyline is part of the works magnetism. The effects seem effortless, but without the sensitive attention to detail the somber mood of the work is compromised.

The work's atmosphere is reminiscent of surrealist de Chirico. Both painters capture a sense of loneliness, a desolate setting. The lack of figures or people in Fernandez' paintings makes one wonder where everyone has gone off to. What has happened to make everyone disappear? When asking the artist why there are no people she replied that she "did not want them to become the focus of the paintings."

The decision to leave people out has a strong effect on a spectator, the result being a fervent feeling of the enigmatic and wanting to investigate more. Whether it is the lack of people or a highly individualized landscape, there is an air of something missing. While the yards are sprinkled with remnants of inhabitants there is an inescapable feeling of absence.

Yet Fernandez' series does not invoke a sense of impending doom per se; the work is not so much dark as it is cast in shadows. Yes, there is a chord of slight melancholy, but not without a definite note of humor and playfulness. Christmas lights hang from the houses, but it's the wrong season; Spurs posters are up, and two dogs attempt to part ways after a brief "romantic" encounter.

Fernandez has taken elements of romanticism and surrealism incorporating them against the setting of South Texas, bringing out a side of the city where the ghosts are apt to dwell playfully. These paintings promise something new with every visit. The work charms you, draws you in and allures you, all the while never revealing its secrets.


The recent show of works by Ana Fernandez at the Joan Grona Gallery was curated by Arturo Almeida, archivist of the UTSA Art Collection.

Pranking perspective: Fernandez’ larger paintings approach Magritte’s doorstep

Posted on November 05, 2016


By Scott Andrews

February 9, 2011

Ana Fernandez makes her local debut at Joan Grona Gallery this month with large oil paintings in which cars and houses sit in a neighborhood that promises the familiarity of home but delivers a rather uncanny air drifting through the trees. If you often happen to live in paintings, the wind shouldn’t blow too harshly.

Fernandez has exhibited paintings from this series in Chicago and Los Angeles, where her scenes depicting San Antonio residences were read as filled with brujaría, a bit of Latina witchiness. The oddly shaped balloons and floating creatures are riffs on figures that the artist has taken from Francisco Goya’s Black Paintings, a group of ghoulish works done after the atrocities of the Napoleonic Wars had rendered the artist a bitter old man. Under the guidance of Fernandez, however, the warnings of doom have more a Halloween or Día de los Muertos appeal, and seem to tease the viewer with impending pranks that won’t harm. Dark scenes are theatrically lit, dark rings around Krieg-lit centers hone the eye to find jokes that the painter has made to herself, like the word “Goya” written slanted on the front of a house.

The biggest prank, however, is Fernandez’ messing with aspects of perspective, enhanced by double vision. She has placed what seem to be two gray iron dogs between columns of leaves in what should be the foreground of the painting Caninus. They are rendered a bit fuzzy, out of focus, countering convention and fuddling with the illusion of depth. The twin cars in the middle space appear strangely crisper, reversing expectations of the near and the far. It is subtly done, however, as both the two dogs and two white cars, twinned in absurd opposing pairs, dominate the scene, a hint that this is not a painting of your mother’s house, but perhaps might be René Magritte’s doorstep.

Fernandez uses symmetry to buffo effect in other paintings, too. A house seems folded in on itself, two more twin cars are joined by matching windows with hearts; even the sky is mirrored down the center.

In contrast to the oils, small gouache works display a quick, deft hand that hints of glamour and a commercial sketch at photorealism. The style would work well with upscale advertising copy. The oils eschew this display of flash, often figuring small details in a smear. Trained at The Art Institute of Chicago and UCLA, Fernandez, who was born in Corpus Christi, has recently returned to Texas from Los Angeles. She has also taken up again her peculiar style of realism after a sojourn in California abstraction that helped net her MFA. The paintings in the show are pleasing enough — she had almost sold out before the opening — but hopefully Fernandez will not allow her work to halt in what is certainly a signature style. Enjoyable painting, it seems to promise yet more.

Ana Fernandez: New Paintings


Noon-5pm Tue, 11am-5pm Wed-Fri, 11am-6pm Sat

On view through Feb 28

112 Blue Star

(210) 225-6334

UTSA and Joan Grona Gallery present exhibit of paintings by Ana Fernandez

Posted on November 05, 2016

Fernandez painting

"717," oil on canvas by Ana Fernandez

Intern, UTSA Art Collection

Feb. 2, 2011

UTSA and Joan Grona Contemporary Art will present the detailed, mystical paintings of Corpus Christi native Ana Fernandez this month at the Grona gallery.

>> Free and open to the public, the exhibit runs Feb. 3-26. An opening reception, free and open to all, is 6-9 p.m., Feb. 3 at Joan Grona Contemporary Art.

Curated by Arturo Almeida, art specialist and curator of the UTSA Art Collection, Fernandez' paintings capture everyday scenes in neighborhoods in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. Her work utilizes a realistic yet fantastical element and style that complements the quotidian yet magical culture of San Antonio.

According to the artist, the painting series features some of her favorite subjects including magic, true crime, paranormal activity, sex, murder, occult, mythology, witchcraft and superstition -- all set in her hometown of Corpus Christi. Her attention to detail will strike a familiar note with San Antonians and others from South Texas.

Born in Corpus Christi, Fernandez moved to San Antonio at age 16 with her family. She received an M.F.A. from UCLA and a B.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has presented numerous exhibits across the nation and currently lives in San Antonio.

Joan Grona Contemporary Art was established in 1992 and is in the nationally known Blue Star Arts Complex. Representing local, national and international artists, the gallery fosters an understanding and appreciation of art in a friendly environment through exhibitions, lectures and guided tours. The gallery collection includes a broad range of innovative, original artworks by established and emerging artists.

Joan Grona Contemporary Art is in Blue Star Arts Complex Suite 112 at South Alamo and Probandt streets in San Antonio's Southtown district. Gallery hours are noon-5 p.m., Tuesday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday; and by appointment (call 210-225-6334).


>> Visit the UTSA Art Collection website.

Little Houses That Make Big Statements

Posted on November 05, 2016
February 1, 2011

Since Ana Fernandez's grandmother died in 1991, the artist has had a recurring dream.

In it, she is compelled to return to her grandmother's home - recently demolished - in Corpus Christi.

"I feel like I forgot something, and I need to go in there and get it," Fernandez says.

Homes and what their exteriors both reveal and conceal about the inhabitants are a source of fascination for Fernandez, and the subject of a series of paintings. An exhibit of her work opens with a reception 6 p.m. Thursday at Joan Grona Contemporary Art, 112 Blue Star.

Curated by Arturo Almeida, it is Fernandez's first solo show since she moved back to San Antonio a little more than a year ago. Though she previously had one-woman exhibits in Chicago and Los Angeles, where she attended the School of the Art Institute and the University of California, she considers this her first real solo show "because it's the first one where I'm really happy with my work," she says.

The exhibit includes 15 works, including oil paintings and graphite drawings, of houses, particularly modest, weathered casitas such as those typical of San Antonio's West Side and South Side barrios.

Works such as 210, a nighttime image of a 1940s-style wood structure where Halloween and Christmas decorations, a Spurs banner and a pair of mating dogs chronicle the passage of time, are imbued with a sense of the unseen occupants' presence.

"I kind of see them like portraits," Fernandez says of the paintings and drawings. "It's a traditional landscape but also kind of a portrait of the house itself, maybe the people that live there. Maybe something that's inside kind of comes out."

Fernandez, who teaches drawing at San Antonio College, works from photographs. She sometimes conflates details of different houses and adds fictional elements to create a narrative. In 717, for example, Fernandez incorporated a red-and-white, heart-shaped balloon wreath into the image of a small house illuminated solely by Christmas lights and a carpet of stars visible through bare tree limbs.

"I like to think of them almost as backdrops, like landscape backdrops to some kind of story or drama that's happening," she says.

Home for Fernandez is a Southtown duplex with high ceilings that she shares with a 100-pound pit bull-mastiff mix named Smoky and a dark brindle French bulldog named Geeta. Her living room, which doubles as a studio, is dominated by large canvases and metal shelves holding supplies, including glass jars of murky thinner with thick layers of paint sediment at the bottom.

Originally from Corpus Christi, Fernandez moved to San Antonio when she was 16. After high school, she attended San Antonio College before leaving to go to school in Chicago. After graduating from UCLA with a master's degree in painting in 2004, Fernandez intended to return to San Antonio. She stayed in L.A., however, after she landed a job "that I couldn't leave" screening images for a custom postage web business. Fernandez was laid off in 2009 when the company eliminated her department.

"It was actually the best thing that possibly could have happened to me because I moved back here; I started painting this series; I got a great job at SAC, which I've always wanted to work at SAC," she says. "I mean, everything has gone great."