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Local artist’s murals, paintings capture Gallup’s cultural tapestry

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Gallup is filled with many talented artisans who showcase their talent by means of silversmith, rug weaving and painting. As this area is an unique diversity of culture and art, many artisans come out of this spectrum making their mark in the art world, one of those is, Ric Sarracino, talented painter.

Sarracino first discovered his talent at a very young age.

“I started to paint and found my niche, oh about when I was a small child in my kindergarten class.,” he said.

Throughout his school days, he discovered that painting was his outlet.

“In elementary school I was recognized as a great artist,” he said. “I was so disruptive. I lacked discipline and this helped me keep in check. I always escaped in drawing, I found solace and peace.”

Later on in high school, he was given the privilege to design the cover of his high school yearbook.

“I’ve been given a God given talent,” he said. “I found I was naturally talented, I’ve had no schooling, I’ve been self-taught. I do have my influences, these were of course the masters: Rembrandt, Picasso and Monet. As well as, post-impressionist like Modigliani, a painter from the 1900’s.

Sarracino’s talent led him to do commercial painting around Gallup. His father was a contractor and he would help him paint. His first commercial job entailed painting a Christmas scene on a the window of a business. This led to signs, murals and portraits.

He’s created commercial signage for businesses such as Richardsons Trading, Gurley Motor Co., Ellis Tanner, First American Traders, Auto Glass, and more.

Currently, Sarracino has been working on beautifying Gallup by painting on city trash can, primarily in the downtown area, about 80 in all.

“I’m painting a series of pictures on these as I display phases of creativeness,” he said. “I experiment with different styles that have been in the past, like cubism,” he said. “I stretch my boundaries. I sometimes become stagnate and I want to reach a pinnacle of where I want to be.”

He’s also created  a number of murals around town such as the Hispanic mural, Gallup Community Life Mural, and the Japanese mural honoring Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi Miyamura. Just recently, he received approval to paint a mural at the Gallup Chamber of Commerce.

Aside from commercial painting, Sarracino also puts his talent to work on canvas.

“It’s hard to break away from commercialism, but I love to paint what I feel on canvas,” he said. “I feel every child is born an artist, and every child is connected to that. I want to reconnect with that child each time I paint.”

He also said that when he paints, he feels more complete. It brings out a sense of satisfaction and spurs his self-confidence. Sarracino explained that New Mexico has greatly influenced his paintings with its bright and illuminating colors of both the territory and its people.

“The landscape helps me, the Navajo tradition, the jewelry, the culture – all has become an inspiration to me,” he said. “Art is more than just a thought process, I’ll go over an idea and go over it and then produce it. The actual work is a progress and it takes time to do it from that thought that pops in my head.”

He’ll also take peoples suggestions and utilize  experiences from past years. He admitted that he’s influenced by other artists and will explore images from the southwest and make them his own.

“I don’t copy them, but take their idea and make it my own,” he said.

Sarracino not only has been commissioned by the city to paint murals, he’s showcased his solo projects in Gallup and galleries. He has been featured on television newscasts, received awards and recognition in articles. He recently sold a painting for $2,000.

“I just sell locally. I haven’t tried to sell my paintings nationally because its a lot of work, it takes a lot of time,” he said. “It’s hard sometimes, and I’m glad I have my family’s support and encouragement. I could be making high dollar with my construction, but I sacrifice all that to do what I want to do, to sell a Ric Sarracino painting.

We were all created in the image of God and that creation is in all of us. When I create a work of beauty, I’ll just feel content and satisfied until I do my next painting. It’s most satisfying to create,” he added.

So, what advice does Sarracino have for young, aspiring artists?

“Study the masters, learn art history, if you’re young enough go to school ... learn art history, contemporary work, because knowledge is power.”

For more information, contact Ric Sarracino: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .