Making up for Lost Time
by Tom Hall
Arturo Samaniego took a 15-year detour on his way to opening Samaniego Art in North Naples. Today, he wonders why it took him so long to decide to follow his heart and embrace the life of a fine artist.
"From my first art classes at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico when I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to be an artist," Samaniego says. But after obtaining degrees in Art and business from the University of Texas, he put his artistic aspirations on hold to pursue opportunities in the computer hardware business.
“My heart was never in the business world,” he now admits. “I was always frustrated that my artwork came second. I felt I could produce much better work if I could devote my full energy to it.”
Still, it took a change in the industry to free Samaniego to pursue his first love. When Dell and several other large computer companies began gobbling up smaller firms like his, Arturo found himself at a crossroads. Instead of redoubling his efforts to remain competitive in a constricting market, he decided at age 40 to leave the computer industry and dedicate himself to pursuing a fine-art career.
"Why die rich and bitter when you can pursue your dream?" Arturo quips of his move to Naples in 2004 to establish his studio and art gallery.
Samaniego describes his style as a blend of realism, minimalist cool and contemporary edge. "In my work," Samaniego notes, "I combine the beauty of the human form with the emotion-evoking quality of gesture. The figure is executed in the classical, old master style, symbolizing the objective. Around these figures, the environment is abstract and nebulous, representing the emotional and internal."
In a new series of mixed media work, Samaniego is beginning to explore the use of experimental materials to create symbolic content for both his abstract and figurative work. For example, in Rusting Nocturne (left), Samaniego infuses metallic pigments sprayed with acid into the abstract background that envelopes his supine nude. "The rust contrasts nicely with both the smooth surface of the oil and the smoothness of the skin, and it's a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of physical beauty, which inevitably fades."
Whether working in abstract or figurative genre, Samaniego's work has consistently garnered attention and accolades. His most recent award came from von Liebig Art Center juror Diane Camber, who serves as Director Emerita of Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach. She selected his portrait Down Looking Up as the Physicians Regional Healthcare System Best in Show at the 49th Founders Juried Awards Exhibition.
It's an award he has won before. It certainly won't be his last Best in Show either.