Patricia Ruiz-Healy: A Promoter of Latino Art
On November 18, Ruiz-Healy Art opened its exhibition Ruiz-Healy Art: Quinceañera commemorating the fifteen-year anniversary of the art gallery in San Antonio, Texas. Ruiz-Healy Art is unique among art galleries in America. It is owned and managed by a Latina woman who has survived in a highly competitive business and actually expanded–-opening an additional gallery in New York City. Ruiz-Healy Art is one of the very few galleries in the United States specializing in Latino, Mexican, and Latin American art. Over the past ten years, the gallery has also participated in prestigious national and international art fairs. The story of Patricia Ruiz-Healy, founder of the gallery, began years ago in Mexico.
Growing up on a ranch in Sonora, Mexico, Patricia never envisioned a life in the United States or a business career in the arts. Following her graduation from high school, she entered a beauty contest which led to her selection as Ms. Sonora and eventually Ms. Mexico. After her competition in the Ms. Universe competition, she returned to Mexico to contemplate what she would do next. Her travels to numerous countries had impressed upon her the value of being bilingual. Thus when the
Governor of Sonora offered to pay a year of college as a reward for her superb representation of the state, she chose to study English in a language program in England near London.
While enrolled in her language classes, Patricia also made time to visit the art museums of London. In one of her first museum experiences, she visited the Courtauld Museum, noted for having an extraordinary Impressionist collection. It was there that she saw Edouard Manet’s famous painting, “A Bar at the Folies-Bergere.” She was so taken by the painting’s beauty and execution she decided to devote herself to learning more about art. She visited all of the London museums and read extensively about the artists and their works. She explained that as the second youngest of eight children she had a very high
After a year in England, Patricia returned to Mexico where she continued her college studies. Following her marriage to Spanish-language television personality Juan Ruiz-Healy in 1983, she moved to Miami, Florida with her husband. The Ruiz-Healys moved to San Antonio in the early 1990s. Patricia enrolled at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio where she majored in business with a minor in art. During the decade of the 90s, the Ruiz-Healys frequently visited Oaxaca, a state with extraordinary art. They made friends there and bought the works of Oaxacan artists Francisco Toledo, Sergio Hernandez, and Rodolfo Morales, three of Mexico’s most famous contemporary artists.
Patricia Ruiz-Healy first began to think about opening an art gallery in 2004. She became a member of the San Antonio Museum of Art Board of Directors and enrolled in the Masters’ art program at UTSA. She visited all of the major art galleries in Mexico City as a means of learning more about the art business. For her opening of the Ruiz-Healy Art Gallery in 2006, she featured the works of Rodolfo Morales and Graciela Iturbide. Ruiz-Healy continued her quest for knowledge by enrolling in the Latin American Studies Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her doctoral studies in 2017. In 2013 she moved her gallery to Olmos Drive and opened her New York gallery in 2019.
Four of the artists in the Quinceañera show at Ruiz-Healy Gallery hail from the Texas border: Cesar Martinez and Ethel Shipton from Laredo, Richard Armendariz and Carlos Rosales-Silva from El Paso. Two artists, Chuck Ramirez and Jesse Amado, hail from San Antonio, part of the expansive Texas Borderlands. Three Mexican artists, Graciela Iturbide, Pedro Friedeberg, and Pedro Diego Alvarado-Rivera are also featured in this 2021 show. Ruiz-Healy Art also included the great photographer Graciela Iturbide in her first show in 2006. Jesse Amado has a long business association with Ruiz-Healy Art, dating back to 2015.
Jesse Amado participated in the first residency class of Artpace in 1995. Ruiz-Healy invited Amado to show in San Antonio in 2015 and in her New York City gallery in 2020. Amado’s conceptional piece in the San Antonio exhibit conveys what he calls “the human experience” featuring the border wall. The wall and food of the border region are solidly based in what he refers to as “anchored in social realities, history, and politics.” The mixed media work also includes a dark blue cloth that represents a
chicharron [fried pig fat], a delicacy popular in South Texas.
Another participant in the Quinceañera exhibit at Ruiz-Healy Art is Cesar Martinez, a popular San Antonio artist with roots in Laredo, Texas. Martinez was also a Fellow at ArtPace in their Residency program in 1999. Since moving to San Antonio in 1971, Martinez has produced some of the most popular Chicano Art Movement iconic paintings of the region, including his border “Bato” series, several of which were exhibited at the McNay Art Museum in the late 1990s. Martinez writes that “The Chicano Movement was a renaissance in thinking about us and in creating those institutions and images and writings that reflected who we are.”
Pedro Diego-Alvardo Rivera, also in the exhibit, trained in Mexico’s prestigious Academia de San Carlos and the famed French Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts. He is known for his landscapes in which he “depicts the limitless abundance of the Mexican natural world.” Pedro told Patricia Ruiz-Healy that “The great Mexican painters…reflected this light, the biodiversity, the fruits, the men and their cultures in their creations.”
One of the most famous Mexican artists featured in the Quinceañera, Graciela Iturbide, initially studied cinematography in Mexico City before becoming an assistant to the brilliant Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo in the early 1970s. She studied in Europe and credits Henri Cartier-Bresson, a legendary photographer, with greatly influencing her work.
The Quinceañera exhibition is open throughout December and closes on January 29, 2022. The Ruiz-Healy Art gallery presents different exhibits throughout the year and is an amazing place to learn about contemporary Latino and Latin American art.
Copyright 2021 by Ricardo Romo. Photo credits as indicated above.