Mixed media artist Adolfo Girala never intended to pursue art as a profession. In fact, it wasn’t even on his radar. Growing up in Cuba, he wasn’t exposed to art. It wasn’t much talked about or celebrated for that matter. As such, Adolfo had his sites set on pursuing a career in technology.
In 1980, he moved to the US to earn a degree as a technician and subsequently landed a job with Learjet. He repaired computers for the defense industry for nearly two decades. But somewhere along that path, he felt like something was missing––he wanted something more soul-filling.
Somehow, Adolfo found his way to art. He began painting small objects and realized an almost therapeutic effect. For the first time, he experienced what it was like to feel fully present, connected and completely immersed in what he was doing.
As Adolfo ventured deeper into the world of art, he allowed the cards to fall where they may, not putting too much pressure on making a career of it. He soon discovered people were drawn to his work. Adolfo chose to ride the wave, allowing his heart and intuition to guide him and his art––something he committed to staying true to even as his career has taken off.
In this interview, Adolfo shares how he transitioned from a technician to a fine art artist. Read on or watch the video below to learn more about Adolfo and his journey.
When did you know art was your calling?
I am self taught. I grew up in Cuba, and we never talked about art. It was during the revolution, which is still going on, and the only art or propaganda that people would listen to or talk about would be about the revolution. I came to the US in 1980, went to college and became a technician in electronics. I repaired computers for Learjet, for the defense industry for 17 years. I was a pretty good technician, but halfway down the line, I kind of got bored with my job. But I didn’t know what else I was going to do. I knew I didn’t want to be an engineer. I’m really bad with numbers. So, in my spare time, I started painting incense holders and little pots that I would give for Christmas. Then I started experimenting and buying all these products, and I just had so much fun.
It was sort of like a gift or something that for the very first time allowed me to just be––be here and enjoy the process. I found it pretty fascinating. So, I just kept painting, painting, painting. Then I started going to little art shows. Somebody told me about an art show in the neighborhood. I went and I remember when I sold my first piece. So, it’s just started like that. I never thought about making it into a business. One thing led to another. And the reason why I’m here doing this is because, first of all, I love it, but then people support it.
What do you love most about creating art?
The surprises that you encounter every day that you work. In each piece, another layer of color reveals when I’m sanding or maybe I’ll be working and this idea comes to do this thing to this other painting. It’s this communication that comes through––I feel like I have something guiding me. I never overthink colors. It’s whatever color comes to mind, that is the one I acknowledge because I believe in the first thought. I don’t believe in overanalyzing it. When I’m in that area, it just doesn’t work because I’m working from the mind. My work is more spontaneous. It’s more about just being in the moment. That’s how I express myself. That’s how I express the beauty that I feel. Words are not enough for me. Art is really an expression of being alive and being here.
ow do you keep yourself challenged?
Every piece is different and every piece has its own mind. I’m always searching for new things, and they come very organically. For instance, this year I started incorporating some of the gold leaf. I started incorporating that within my work and glazing it over. It has a different dimension. When I find something, I stay with that for a while then I move to something else. I’m always exploring. That’s what keeps it going.
What brings you back to the Celebration of Fine Art?
This is a great place. I love everyone here. Everybody who comes here does so because they want to be here. Nobody is forced to be here. And everybody is so gracious and talented. The people who own this place, Susan and Jake, are such hard workers. It’s a very special place. I’ve been coming here 16 years, and hopefully I’ll come for many more.