Rene Perez is a very talented, self-taught artist who has lived in San Marcos for many years; he uses local images and landmarks extensively in his artwork. When asked why he became an artist, Rene replies, “My father and grandfather both passed away at a young age, so I always felt like death was leaning over my shoulder. Subconsciously, I never made any efforts to pursue any real ambitions or talents that I possessed. I was someone who just wanted to have fun while I could. Page | 2 It was the birth of my son Santiago ten years ago that made me realize that I had to leave behind a legacy. The day before I became a father, my sister unknowingly created a defining moment in my life when she placed a paintbrush in my hand and told me to finish off a small part of my son’s nursery wall. Those few brushstrokes ignited a dormant talent I had abandoned when I was young. Thoughts of a book I had just read, The Essential Dalai Lama: His Important Teachings, came to mind and made me ask myself: What will people remember me by?” He continues with this surprising admission, “What you should know is that I’m totally self-taught. I have never even spent an hour in an art classroom. You can call me a folk artist or uneducated if you like, but I can tell you this - I love what I do, and I hope you can see that joy expressed in my work.” Rene makes clear that San Marcos itself is essential to his artistry. “Much of my art is directly inspired by the town I love.” He walks frequently in the parks and at the San Marcos River, takes many photos, and observes nature. If you are familiar with San Marcos, you will discover many recognizable sites and images. In addition, he adds, “I have three cats and you'll see them appear often in my artwork.” He says he makes art for the simple joy of creation. “I’ve always had a knack for getting people to laugh, especially at my own expense. Now I don’t even have to say a word or make a fool of myself; people look at my work, and their faces light up. Don't read too much into my work. I call it feel-good art. If you find yourself smiling, or better yet, laughing...well, it served its purpose.” To sum everything up, he uses an odd analogy. “I compare myself to a chicharra (cicada) because he spends so much of his life underground, waiting to reveal himself, only to come up to the surface to make this weird, resonating sound. My life pattern has been the same; I finally crawled out and made a bunch of noise, painting and spreading my art wherever and however I can. I only hope that my loudness can continue to be heard far longer and enjoyed by a wider audience than the chicharra.” Besides visiting his booth at Art Squared, you can view the work of Rene Perez at http://jreneperez.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/reneperezart.