UA alums bring talent to Bay Area

By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 23, 2004

Who says teamwork doesn't pay off? The combined efforts of UA alums Adriana Yadira Gallego and Claudio Dicochea have definitely paid off, and the two artists will be honored with a reception for their work in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Saturday.

The event will mark one year since the artists' mural of the Portuguese Holy Ghost Festival was dedicated at the Francis building on Main Street in Half Moon Bay.

The mural is 22 feet high and 28 feet wide.

Between Gallego and Dicochea, over two-dozen paintings will be exhibited, along with a photo exhibit by Richard Kirchner, who photographed the mural's creation.

"Claudio and I have very distinct artistic processes and styles," Gallego said.

"The success of the collaboration rested on our ability to focus on our individual strengths and specialties."

Charles Nelson, co-owner of the Nuestra Tierra gallery, who was familiar with their artwork, approached Gallego and Dicochea in 2002 with the idea for the mural.

In order to research the town's history, Nelson and his wife Nidia invited Gallego and Dicochea to stay with them in Half Moon Bay.

Gallego and Dicochea traveled the coast side to document historical landmarks, interviewing historians and gathering knowledge, archival information and vintage photographs from community members.

Gallego and Dicochea faxed sketches, then sent a prototype of the mural to Nelson in summer 2002.

After Nelson raised the funds and gained the proper permits to display a public artwork, Gallego and Dicochea began the mural in June 2003. Its unveiling took place on Sept. 5 that year.

"The ideas developed easily from the different recollections and stories people shared with us," Dicochea said.

The Holy Ghost Festival is a traditional Azores-Portuguese celebration, which dates back to 1296 Portugal and the 15th century in the Azores, according to Gallego and Dicochea.

The festival, which was brought to Half Moon by the Portuguese in the late 19th century, has been a long standing cultural tradition ever since.

Both born in Sonora, Mexico, Dicochea graduated from the UA in 1995 and Gallego graduated in 1997.

They first met and became close friends in the UA's art department in 1994. The next year, they both appeared in their first gallery show, "Seis Raices Nuevas," and worked on their first collaborative project.

Now living in Los Angeles, they work with the Theatre of Hearts Youth First, among other artistically educational organizations.

With the exception of a teaching gig and the mural, Adriana said that they usually work on solo projects.

"It's always a treat to work together because there's an important learning process that goes with that, and I'm always curious to see how those lessons go on to be applied in our own individual work," Dicochea said.

While attending the UA, Gallego and Dicochea studied with art professor Alfred J. Quiroz, whom they both cite as a mentor.

"I derived a great source of inspiration from my college professors Peggy Doogan, Alfred Quiroz and Bruce McGrew," Gallego said.

"Between all of them I learned that it was possible to integrate content-driven art with craft, grace, intellect and poetry."

"More than influences, I'd say they're godfathers," Dicochea said. "Alfred Quiroz, Robert Colescott, Charles Hitner and Peggy Doogan are my former instructors, and they helped me more than they'll ever know."

"Aside from being a powerful instructor, Alfred is incredibly concerned with helping you find and develop your own artistic voice," Dicochea said.

"His lessons, discipline and encouragement have proven invaluable to me. His own artwork and dedication are a great source of inspiration."

Gallego said she discovered her love for painting "quite by accident" while taking a UA psychology course. She is the only person in her family to pursue an artistic career, but her grandfather always draws funny cartoons of himself.

"He has a very good sense of humor which I highlighted in a series of portraits I painted of him," she said.

For his part, Dicochea said music played a healthy role in his family, but only his sister liked to paint.

"I didn't have the guts to pick up a brush until much, much later," he said.

"My mother says I started drawing before I started talking," he said. "I can't remember, so we'll have to take her word."

For more information about Adriana Yadira Gallego and Claudio Dicochea:

For more information about Nuestra Tierra: