A life of instability and poverty is not enough to keep Adrian De La Cruz from having a successful career in art. Surrounded by vibrant splashes of acrylic paint sprayed across canvas, wooden frames and studio furniture, Adrian contemplates his next stroke across a vibrant character set in front of a fierce vortex of swirling colors. Bold black strokes reveal a darker side to the playful imagery. At first glance, his play on aquas, intense reds, and pops of yellow incite cheerful visuals of pop icons, but on second glance, more is revealed. There’s confusion, discord, turmoil and pain. Take another look and see the portrait contort into caricature.
Inspired by his older brother, Adrian observed his sketches on paper and picked up ideas for his own works. An outgoing, well known student in high school, he never revealed his love of art but to his closest friends. Attending seven different high schools and moving in and out of over 20 homes throughout his childhood, his only constant in life was his sketchbook. It wasn’t until later in life that he intensified his calling for the canvas and took to the bars of San Antonio’s First Fridays to paint live in front of strolling audiences. Sales of his pop culture depictions and other icons led to commissions. Commissions on canvas led to murals and city-wide recognition. Among his more notable works include a commissioned portrait of country singer George Strait for his personal collection; a wrap-around 15 by 150-foot LGBTQ Pride mural for Zebraz; and working with the San Antonio Spurs Hype Squad designing and creating their shoes and uniforms. Canvas isn’t the only surface Adrian imprints his ideas on. Sneakers, denim jackets, and purses have been in constant demand.
His art has been part of art exhibitions in San Antonio and New York City but his favorite place to be is in his art studio contemplating his next stroke of the brush. Black streaks across the canvas and his fingers tell more than their initial impression.