Wabi Sabi



Had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with local artist, Albert Gonzales over the weekend at his Hausmann Millworks studio.

You may recognize Gonzales as the man behind the painted mask, or from a hardly controversial ‘Pop for President’ mural at Cermelitas on Broadway earlier this year.

For me, I have been a fan of his work and following his appearances for a couple of years now since first witnessing him painting live at a Co | Lab event.

One thing I picked up on early about this guy was that it seemed like daily I would see an alert or flier for @trebla_art welcoming people to a gallery opening or live painting at an art night.

The other thing that really got me going was that the dude was doing all of this without a dojo.

For awhile Albert was homeless, a time that prompted him to double-down on his craft, and buy-in completely to his own vision.

At the time he made a goal for himself to sell one of his large paintings for $1,000. Although he fell just short of his goal at the time, he kept a positive attitude and having gotten so close, knew he could in fact do this.

Two short months later, and a prominent art collection at UTSA purchased five of his larger works. This was his break. He called it a blessing, and something he was proud to add to his resume.

The sale gave him enough funds to put upfront on a few months of a studio space and take a much needed trip to NY and Philly.

It was on this journey that Albert was inspired by no other than Henri Matisse, the great French painter. After viewing his works he completely changed his philosophy on how to use colors and the context behind those choices.

The Saturday following his return to SA saw Albert have a dream of vivid colors floating down to the canvas, into what you now see in his flower pieces, Wabi Sabi.

Since that fateful dream, he has not stopped painting them, estimating at producing near 200 of them to date.

With such a cool sound, I was curious where the name Wabi Sabi came from.

Albert mentioned watching a father-son traveling documentary where the tops of the dead trees were called Wabi Sabi, as they showed gnarled shapes, holes, and other signs of aging.

He wanted to represent this as it relates to life and for you to see this as opposed to just flowers in a vase.

Wabi = one with nature, and Sabi = wisdom.

Much like the trees, each subject unique, life goes on in perfect imperfection.

Water in the vase represents life, and being fluid reminds us to go with the flow.

In the beginning Mr. Gonzales painted behind a colorful mask. An oxymoron expressed in action. As many people navigate life behind masks, Albert decided to use his as an invitation.

Audiences were intrigued by the blazered man-in-the-mask. And with the bright colors, he was inviting enough for people to get closer, and find out more about him and what he was up to.

There are always times and places for it. And you may see more of it in the fiture.

A future he plans to share with us soon, as he is currently ramping up his inventory. He is currently working to create 3 or 4 bodies of work in the next year, and possibly host as many as five solo exhibitions.

Big ambitions for the artist that says he would love to one day work with Banksy, or closer to home Vincent Valdez or Alex Rubio, a pair of local artists he has admired for sometime.

Knowing that he favors mixed media, and that we have already seen him help many collectors fill their collections with painting commissions, add to this his outside time painting murals in the community, his multiple live painting days, and I can definitely envision Albert taking it to the road.

He has eyes on shows in Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles, although the always humble artist reminds me he is in no rush. Just flowing like water.


During the time that a friend and I sat in his studio to chat, we got to witness some capoiera from a nearby class going on and Albert sat to sketch a quick painting of myself.

The day flowed beautifully, with only a passing train and the rhythms of the Brazilian drums floating into our space.

Thank you. Thank you. What a sunday? What a guy? What a story to see.

The power of grit and determination, and being able to witness someone come out the other end of the tunnel smiling is an inspiration.

Thank you Albert.

You may find him Mondays, Tuesdays, and Sundays at his Hausmann Millworks studio. On Instagram @trebla_art, and on occasional dates at Southtown Art gallery.




Photos credit: Jonathan Duarte Mask photo credit: Albert Gonzales art

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