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Meet Cande Aguilar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cande Aguilar.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Cande. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was raised by a musician (dad) and a music lover (mom). My dad was in a well-known conjunto band and used to take me along with him to the gigs. I grew up listening and watching master conjunto accordionists, thinking back, it was as if a painter watched master painters Van Gogh or Picasso create. The accordionists were real masters of their art. Conjunto Music was sort of like a doorway into the arts for me.

Some of my first memories of visual art are of my uncles doodling on school paper, drawing lowrider cars, I just remember (4 years old) realizing that drawing existed and thinking “wow, that’s something that you can do?” It turned out to be an important moment that would lead me to becoming a visual artist. “Growing up, I never thought I would be a visual artist. I thought that I would follow in my dad’s footsteps and my life would be music.” In high school, I took art classes, but didn’t really think about it seriously… In the back of my mind, I was already jamming on stage with my dad in my godfather’s conjunto band (Gilberto Perez y sus compadres)! I ended up creating a band after high school with a couple of close friends and stuck with it for about nine years. Then, in 1998, I began to sketch, picked up pastels and oil paints in between gigs to make little drawings, more or less a year before our lead singer quit the band to have a family. That’s when I knew my life as a traveling musician had ended.

Eventually, I got to the level where I wasn’t just squeezing paint directly from tubes but mixing colors and stretching my own canvases to create a more accurate representation of my imagination. That’s when my art really started to take off; the transformation from musician to visual artist was complete and I had my first solo exhibition in 2001.

Has it been a smooth road?
There are always struggles along with successes at any given time in resolving an Art piece. For me, my struggles as a human being will always define my work as an artist.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
It is difficult to talk about my work as a business or a company because I’ve been creating art on my own for 19 years, I don’t have assistants or a business manager, I do have to wear the promoter, and salesman hat in order to stay a float. I specialize in multimedia painting with image transfer and found objects in a wide range of sizes. Inspired by graffiti and street art, popular culture, and border politics, my #barrioPOP artworks reflect my experience of living and working in the Rio Grande Valley.

“barrioPOP can be understood as pop art through a particular south Texas, Mexican American lens that takes us on a ride that might not be posh, but it will get us there, and in this case, with its own unique style.

In barrioPOP, we see Cande’s abstract expressionist’s painterly experience with bright color fields and forms extruded through the Play-dough press of his 1970s and 80s popular culture upbringing.

What people need from art are statements that move them either emotionally, or intellectually, and preferably both within some relevant context. This is what Aguilar achieves in his art with regional flavor and genuine authenticity. After all, if there is one thing the “barrio” (and Mexican culture in general) is known for, it is: sabor (flavor).” writer/artist Noe Hinojosa.

I also have an upcoming solo shows in New York City and in Lubbock, TX.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
As I mentioned, I started out as a musician and at the age of 13, I began traveling with my dad playing conjunto music around the state of Texas in my godfather’s conjunto band. I believe it was once a month for about seven years we would play gigs in Houston at the “Matamoros Ballroom” and “El Fantasia Ballroom” defiantly good times. Then as I went on with my own band I continued to travel to Houston playing at various music festivals, one in particular, I forgot the name but it was set right in downtown Houston, it consisted of multicultural performances, African dances, visual arts, etc. I really loved that festival! I have to say that I haven’t had the fortune of exhibiting my art in Houston yet but I’m very much looking forward to that day, and I continue to dream about exhibiting at the Menil Museum, and/or The Station Museum. If there is anything I don’t like about Houston or any big city, it has to be the traffic.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All art work photographed by Cande Aguilar, artist portraits by John Faulk @frontera_media

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