“I bet if you were an artist, you’d be pretty amazing,” said a friend to Albert Gonzalez as he doodled on a napkin. Those words stuck with him.
Sometime later, he left his job to pursue this talent. In the process, he reached out to Rex Hausmann of Hausmann Millworks. Rex was the only artist Albert contacted who was willing to talk to him about his passion. “Rex told me that if I have good ideas- do them. Do them with the best intentions.”
Artist Albert Gonzalez in his studio at the Hausmann Millworks. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Albert paints from his own life experiences, which have taken him through homelessness, street painting, and getting his own studio at the Mill. “When someone buys my art they buy a piece of my life story,” he explains. Having worked through his own trials, he hopes that his art can help others. “I create to share my story and inspire other people.”
Steven DaLuz, one of the more experienced artists at the Mill, elicits reactions in a much different medium. His unique work, utilizing gold and copper leaf to add a luminous element to his paintings, has moved onlookers to tears. “Sometimes there are things that happen in a piece where, whatever’s happening in that person’s life or whatever memory it invokes in them, causes the work to connect.”
Steven is both humbled and pleased by these reactions, saying his goal is not to impose a narrative on the viewer but to evoke something from within.
Painting by Artist Steven DaLuz at the Hausmann Millworks. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
He knew early on that art was his niche. “I’m not sure if it was wanting to be [an artist] more than it was a foregone conclusion,” he laughs. Steven found Hausmann Millworks three years ago after attending several gallery openings there. The community offered more than he could have predicted.
Artist Steven DaLuz stands for a portrait at the Hausmann Millworks. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Steven sees advantages to being centrally located in the city. “It’s good to be stimulated by other folks and things you see along the way that capture your imagination,” he says, “I really enjoy the aspects of community that are here. We have opportunity to connect with each other.”.”
The artists truly work in concert, offering advice and critiquing each other’s work. “One of the things that I think is a great advantage to being in this space,” says Steven, “is that there are a variety of things people do here.”
For example, Pamela Taylor is not only an artist, but offers her years of sales and marketing advice to artists for the business side of their profession.
Pamela Taylor stands for a portrait in front of some of her artwork at the Hausmann Millworks. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Pamela began to pursue art less than two years ago, and has been prolific in that time. At first she felt isolated in her work. “I needed a community,” she explains. She found it at Hausmann, where she has learned new techniques and refined her skills.
Having been involved in charity and non-profit work, as well as experiencing domestic violence herself, Pamela considers art vital in the healing process. One of her most profound pieces focuses on the victims of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting. She displayed the work during a memorial at her church. “Everyone went up and were looking at the painting and just sobbing,” she says.
Pamela shares a primary medium with her studio mate, Mary Frances Spears. Both artists utilize beeswax to produce truly unexpected visuals. They plan on visiting Egypt in March to learn more about the ancient practice.
A viewer at one of Mary Frances’ gallery shows had a particularly memorable reaction to her work. The woman hovered around a piece meant to embody earthiness and soil, unable to look away. Mary approached her. “I think that this is supposed to be yours,” she said of the piece. It seemed that the painting had found a home. “That’s all I can ask,” says Mary Frances, “is that someone love and care for it.”
Artist Mary Frances Spears stands for a portrait at the Hausmann Millworks. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Pamela and Mary became friends after Pamela asked if she could share a space with and learn from Mary. “We had both been through some rough things and so we connected really well,” says Mary Frances. Like Pamela, she finds that the community’s diversity makes it strong: “We have people who are established who are really generous. And we have brand new artists who are just coming out of college or are coming back from military service and are just throwing their hearts into it.”
Hausmann will bring you ‘Critical Mass,’ a gallery exhibition of Millworks Artists from November 30th 2017 to February 28th 2018. Downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods are teeming with artists and artisans. Experience their stories here.