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Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Alfredo Bustinza a friend and a good painter by Carlos G. Gómez
He was a loyal patron of art and attended almost all university shows and whatever else was around in the area. We often talked about not having any support except from people like Romeo Montalvo and later on Conrad Bodden. Both of these men were very sincere about appreciating what Fred was fighting for and kept an eye on him. On many occasions we talked while drinking a beer which he liked very much and that is when he would open up and bluntly put it as it was and often he would reminisce of his Rutgers days and his friends in the East Coast whom he spoke of very highly. He was a loyal friend who was misunderstood and had great passion for life, art, family and did not hesitate to speak his mind which was one of the qualities that I really liked about him. Frankly he was the only person who knew what I was trying to accomplish as an artist and on his frequent visits to my home would also say, “you’re getting better” which was his way of saying; “I am keeping my eye on you”.
He was competitive but did not show it as he always desired to project a relaxed easy demeanor. I showed with him on several occasions and he would always say, “semos chingones….we kick ass”. See he had a lot of pride and was true, a characteristic many younger artists today don’t understand. This “truth” is vital and is what separates the art hierarchy into levels. Sure there were some who bad mouth him and always tried to denigrate him, but his art always spoke for him and so he quiet them. Of course he was not perfect, who is? Like most he had his faults, but note that most were related to his lack of support in the area. “No me dan chansa” he would say after a day or so of trying to get a show. How sad the whole thing. Here is a guy who is extremely committed to his work and who actually has good work and the only one man show he ever had in Brownsville was the one I gave him when I was gallery director at then TSC. I doubt that he would have liked the current art scene in the valley especially Brownsville. He did participate in group shows but that was not what he existed for. He did so because that was what he was about shearing his work. He could pick the “so-so’s” and as he would say “es puro pedo ese vato, no tiene nada”….that is how he spoke, he was who he was! How nuts is this, in the 20 years that I knew him he had only one, one man show in Brownsville! Like him or not he was a friend, and like him or not he was a good painter.
I kind of miss him and his 2am runs to my house to borrow a gallon of gesso, which on occasions would end up at his house and a hot cup of coffee and sweet bread from Senora Bustinza…what a sweet lady. This I think is where he got his balance and strength from his mom and father, but mostly his mom. She was the only one who dare call me Charlie, so when around her I was Charlie. Those of you who have been lucky to have met her know what I am writing about.
Much has been said about his work and rightfully so, but what I remember the most was the man. Alfredo Bustinza, Fred to some, Bert to others and those who knew him Bustinza, or as I like to call him; “pinche” Bustinza. The last time I saw him was when he went to the university and was all fired up, he was in love and glowing. A black cowboy hat, black jeans and boots, a bandana around his neck and a girl friend. He dropped by to say hello and see what my painting students were doing, but I really think he was there to say; “hey Charlie everything is alright, I am happy and doing fine”. He sure was, I don’t think that I had ever seen him so happy. The guy had just come back from the east coast and as he would say; “the real art world”…see this is the way I remember him…happy….ay te wacho Bert have a cold one ready for me…..gómez
Carlos G. Gómez, MFA
Professor of Fine Art
Fine Arts Department
The University of Texas at Brownsville and
Texas Southmost College
80 Fort Brown
Brownsville, Texas 78520
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