Feb 15, 2023 - News

San Antonio remembers iconic artist Jesse Treviño

Jesse Trevino (center) with Joaquin Castro and Anthony Head.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (left) and Anthony Head (right) with iconic artist Jesse Treviño. Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Head

Jesse Treviño, one of the city's most-revered artists who made San Antonio his muse and canvas, died Monday at age 76.

Details: He had battled throat cancer for several years, but Treviño’s spokesperson, Gabriel Quintero Velasquez, told Texas Public Radio that he died of natural causes.

  • Online tributes followed the news. Retired TV anchor Randy Beamer said he was friends with Treviño for 40 years and called him "one of a kind." Mayor Ron Nirenberg called him an "American hero."

Flashback: Treviño was born in Monterrey, Mexico, but grew up on the West Side of San Antonio.

  • He earned a scholarship to attend the prestigious Art Students League in New York but was drafted during the Vietnam War after his first year.
  • Treviño was seriously injured in the line of duty and his dominant hand was amputated.

Treviño went on to create San Antonio's most-recognizable works including “The Spirit of Healing,” the tiled mural that covers Christus Santa Rosa and is visible to Interstate 35 North travelers as they pass downtown and "La Veladora of Our Lady of Guadalupe" on the West Side.

Three dimensional, tiled veladora.
"La Veladora of Our Lady of Guadalupe" by Jesse Treviño. Photo: Madalyn Mendoza/Axios

Yes, but: Treviño was also inspired by the everyday lives of Latinos, creating photo-realistic paintings like "Mis Hermanos."

  • Some of those pieces are part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection.
  • Anthony Head, who wrote the artist's biography, "Spirit: The Life and Art of Jesse Treviño," tells Axios he captured the "beating heart of San Antonio's West Side without cliche."
  • "He wanted to put life in San Antonio as he knew it and especially the West Side as he knew it," Head said.

Madalyn's thought bubble: Treviño's art changed the direction of Texas art and how San Antonio portrayed itself to the world. His work is an authentic representation that says our traditions, our livelihoods and our faces are art.


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