Chalk has a special place in our city’s heart. Every Spring, the streets of downtown become a canvas for the people of San Antonio; the young and the old, artisans and aspirants, crouch side by side, carving out little corners of cobblestone on which to etch out figures of their dreams. But outside of ArtPace’s annual Chalk it Up event, the medium tends to shy from the public eye.
It’s all too easy to forget about chalk. Funnily, that just suits the nature of its properties: impermanent, muted of color, delicate in presence. These inherent qualities doubtlessly in turn color its consideration by many as a possible and permanent medium.
Not so for up-and-coming artist Gabriela Gloria.
Its a feeling I get when I look at my dirty hands after finishing a piece and thinking to myself, “s—, my f—ing hands did that.”
— artist Gabriela Gloria
In her hands, chalk shatters its stereotypes. I was a bit unprepared myself. Gloria’s art exhibits a level of detail that, I’m ashamed to admit, far surpassed my imagination’s expectations concerning chalk. Gloria’s pastels push back, manifesting deep color and variety of texture that more than holds its own, as you can see in the examples below:
For Gloria, art wasn’t a lifelong pedigree, but a rediscovery of the innate. This isn’t uncommon for a generation of late artists, especially in a year when many are finding themselves with more time alone— and more time to reconnect with themselves.
As it was for many, art was a seed planted in Gloria’s childhood. She had always been creative and demonstrated a fairly strong aptitude in youth, taking classes and imitating the likenesses of favorite characters and stories. Also like many, she often demonstrated that aptitude upon the walls and furniture of the family home, much to her mother’s chagrin. This creative side never fully flourished in the perennial forefront, however, remaining semi-dormant instead, though always there when needed.
“I always knew if I wanted to, I could do it,” Gloria says.
And one day Gloria would: the day she picked up a set of 20 chalk pastels and an 18 x 20 canvas for five dollars. For her it was a whim, but with the encouragement and support of the creative friends surrounding her, the whim grew into dedication. 8 hours later, that blank canvas had become not only a finished creation, but a small miracle:
Someone offered $300 for her very first piece.
Now she’s hooked, and her craft and audience grow by the day. So does her enthusiasm. It’s almost contagious when she describes what she loves about working in chalks:
“Absolutely everything. The fact that my brushes are my fingers… It’s a feeling I get when I look at my dirty hands after finishing a piece and thinking to myself, ‘s—, my f—ing hands did that…’ …every line on the outlines to every color blending with each other, capturing every shading and angle, everything from start to finish, I love.”
What’s more, this artist has had a stroke of luck that others strive years for: her art sells.