Juan Alonso-Rodriguez

Seattle, WA

The world needs more art. With the recent addition of eight of Juan Alonso-Rodriguez's paintings at Vela, there is an added warmth and repose that, whether we realized it or not, we were craving. Juan-Alonso Rodriguez is a Cuban-born self-taught artist who has been sharing his talent with Seattle for decades. We are honored to feature this accomplished artist at Vela as a precursor to our High Art series, which will feature a different artist each month. Juan shares our passion for promoting emerging artists; he features guest artists in his studio, as well. And speaking of his studio, it is open to the public for First Thursday each month in Pioneer Square.  It's a dreamy space - you must check it out!  Until then, here's a little more about the man behind the brush:

What inspired you to become an artist?

Creativity has been part of my life since I was very young. While other kids were out playing with one shape ball or another, I was creating something visually with whatever materials I could find, whether pencil and paper, clay or sticks and wire. I never thought of it as a career. That happened both accidentally and gradually when I first moved to Seattle in 1982. I worked for a frame shop and the owner encouraged me to frame and hang some of my work in his shop. Little by little people started noticing my work and the owner of a gallery that was a client of the frame shop asked if I would be interested in showing my work with them. That was the beginning of what has now been both my passion and career for over thirty-three years.

What gets your creativity going?

It doesn’t take much. Sometimes I wish my mind would slow down in order for my body to be able to execute every idea I get. Sometimes I start working on several projects at once just because I don’t want to let any of those sparks go that might lead to a breakthrough in my creativity. Exploration, trial and error, discovery and the possibility of what comes next compels me to be in my studio creating as much as possible.

What’s makes your job awesome?  

I feel extremely fortunate and just about every day I work on something I am passionate about. I understand that I am one of those people who loves what he does and gets to do it full time on a daily basis. My work IS my passion.

What makes your job challenging? 

Being a self-employed artist, I never know what my income is going to be from year to year or even month to month so there is a lot of budgeting I have to do so I don’t find myself in trouble during slower periods. I am also at a point where I am successful enough to need an assistant but not making enough money to justify hiring one.

What’s excites you most about the art world today?

I am very involved with the local art scene; particularly serving on the Seattle Arts Commission and the city’s Public Art Advisory Committee but I don’t pay too much attention to art trends or all the “who’s who” in the art world. I prefer to focus on my creativity and try to keep outside influences out of my own creative process. That said, I love going to see other people’s work, not just because their creativity is inspiring but because I now how important it is to have the support of your fellow artists.

What are your favorite things right now?

Traveling, particularly to warmer places, being surrounded by art at home, JAB rum and small gatherings with friends, whether at home or at some of my favorite local hangouts like Circadia, Foreign National or Rumba.

Juan's art will be on display at Vela through the beginning of May. For purchases, please contact Juan directly.