100 Creatives 2013: Gilbert Ruiz, Dichotomous Artist

What He Does: Gilbert Ruiz has only been showing his work as an artist for about three years, but the quality of his offerings is unmistakable and shows tremendous promise. Above you'll see his painting 'Just Out of Reach," a powerful piece of longing and mystery that makes you ask whether the subject is stretching to touch something beautiful from the cold darkness of his cell, or seeks to crush something bright that mocks his misery. That's the true glory of all of Ruiz's work, and the thread that seems to unite them. Dark and light play off of each other, leading the viewer down dichotomous paths at the same time. Two worlds always collide.

There's an even more unnerving series of his called Black and White that takes this tendency to extremes. Nominally it's nothing but a collection of abstract shadows, but patterns like houses and people emerge for the gray areas where the black and white meet together. Things are always coming from different dimensions in his art, and it can be both uplifting and terrifying.

Why He Likes It: "I love sharing what I create with others. I don't really wear my emotions on my sleeve (at least not the deeply rooted ones), and in much of my work what feel gets poured out onto paper and canvas for as many people as possible to see. For me it's cathartic. The best part is when others can relate exactly to what's being expressed, or if they see something completely different and have a connection that way. At that point it transcends the flat surface and becomes something more."

What Inspires Him: Probably the biggest inspiration for Ruiz is music, especially instrumental music. Much of his work is an attempt to replicate his interpretation of sound in a visual manner. The way patterns reverberate off every-day life is the secret to his distinct vision of the world as a shifting series of facets.

As a kid Ruiz enjoyed comic book art, and drawing comic book characters was his introduction to anatomy. In high school he was heavily influenced by the Surrealists like Dali, Magritte, and Ernst, and then in college he discovered Matisse, Picasso, Klee, and Braque. Lately, he's obsessed with the New York school of the 1940s and '50s, especially the works of Pollock, De Kooning, Hoffman, and Gorky, as well as more obscure artists he's discovered through the Menil.

If Not This, Then What: "I would be involved in music, probably performing. I used to play clarinet in band and orchestra while in school. That's actually how I became passionate about classical music. I had plans to play in college and dreamt that maybe one day the Houston Symphony. I wanted to learn piano and guitar. I still do. Life just got in the way, but it turns out having more time to focus on art was a good thing."

If Not Here, Then Where: Ruiz is a city boy, and if he had to leave Houston it would be for another metropolis like New York or San Francisco. That said, he has no plans on going anywhere, as he feels the art scene in the city, including the opportunities it offers for so many young artists, is second to none.

What's Next: "Keep creating. I feel I'm in the early stages of my art career. I have a big text document full of ideas I have for paintings, ideas for entire series of works. I work full time, so the plan to is to create as much as possible, when I have the time, over the next year and to show in as many venues as possible. I'm entertaining the idea of showing elsewhere in Texas as well. I wouldn't mind having a studio sometime soon either."

More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Dionne Sparkman Noble, choreographer and professor Lee Wright, artist Vic Shuttee, comedy writer and performer Robin Davidson, poet and translator Jessica Wilbanks, essayist and Pushcart Prize winner David DeHoyos, astronaut photographer Sophie Jordan, bestselling book author Jessi Jordan, comic artist, beekeeper and yeti enthusiast Patrick Peters, architect and professor Jamie Kinosian, visual artist Paris F. Jomadiao, mixed-media artist and stop motion animator Shanon Adams, dancer James Glassman, Houstorian historian and artist Lou Vest, photographer Sara Gaston, stage and screen star Rachael Pavlik, a writer mom Ana Villaronga-Roman, Katy Contemporary Arts Museum director Erin Wasmund, actor, singer and dancer Karim Al-Zand, composer Jan Burandt, paper conservator for The Menil Collection Deke Anderson, actor Craig Cohen, hockey fan and host of Houston Matters Mauro Luna, Poe-Inspired photographer Trond Saeverud, Galveston Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Khrystyna Balushka, paper flower child Christina Carfora, visual artist and world traveler Sara Kumar, artistic director for Shunya Theatre Kiki Maroon, burlesque clown Gin Martini, fashion designer Lacey Crawford, painter and sculptor Homer Starkey, novelist Jenn Fox, mixed media Shohei Iwahama, dancer Erica DelGardo, metalsmith Bob Clark, executive director Houston Family Arts Center Kerrelyn Sparks, bestselling romance author Lindsay Halpin, punk rock mad hatter Drake Simpson, actor Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer David Matranga, actor Crystal Belcher, pole dancer Daniel Kramer, photographer Blue 130, pin-up explosion art Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker David Wilhem, light painter Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster Browncoat, pin-up pop artist Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist Vincent Fink, science fashion Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer Sameera Faridi, fashion designer Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre Outspoken Bean, performance poet Barry Moore, architect Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist Ty Doran, young actor Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet Justin Garcia, artist Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer

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