2015 Texas Book Festival Poster

texas book festival

I am very honored that my painting “The Naturalist” has been chosen for the official Twentieth Anniversary Texas Book Festival poster. The festival is on the weekend of October 17 and 18 at the Texas State Capitol in Austin and benefits Texas public libraries. I am thrilled to have been chosen because the public libraries have been instrumental in my self education as an artist. Before I even stepped inside an art museum I found art within the books I devoured at the library. More practically, I learned to draw and compose paintings by copying old master works found in books. I also discovered literature which has served me faithfully not just for comfort and escape but as a treasure chest of ideas for my works.  It is no wonder that I wish for my works to open the same doorways to dreams and imaginations that literature does.

The narrative quality of Ronquillo’s work made it a perfect choice to represent the Texas Book Festival this year. As Stephens [Rachel Stephens from the Wally Workman Gallery] remarks:

“As you can see in the festival poster image, her informed visual language creates characters that are layered with a past as well as a future. The eye contact activates the viewer as a participant. Her symbolism intrigues the imagination. It is no wonder that the literary community is drawn to her work. What time period is it set in? Are the flowers being offered or received? Is the finch a friend or a possession? And what army could the red armband signify? As with literature, there are no wrong answers. There are only stories, stories wanting to be told, stories wanting to be read.” ~ from the Texas Book Festival Lit Blog

Speaking of artists, you can spend the three months between now and TBF weekend admiring the poster art by Fatima Ronquillo, an elegant that looks as if it might be several centuries old, which has the feel of both the Old World and the New World, of past and present, of nature and civilization … it tells a story of the kind we love to discover in books. ~ Robert Faires, The Austin Chronicle

American Art Collector, March 2015



American Art Collector
Issue 113, March 2015
Upcoming Show Preview, “Fatima Ronquillo: Possession”
pp. 100-101

View PDF file AACMarch2015



Diana goddess of the hunt and the moon, spoke to animals and turned Actaeon into a stag so he would be devoured by his own hunting dogs.

Huntress peers out from Fatima Ronquillo’s painting, demure with her single strand of pearls, self-possessed and agelessly childlike. Her quiver is ready on her shoulder, and the gold and crescent-shaped pearl diadem in her hair symbolizes her deity. The painting is also a reference to a tradition in British painting of women dressing as Diana for their portraits.


Ronquillo says, “Sometimes I mistrust my instinct,” but her instinct guides her through the doubt. Her preliminary drawings may not have enough information when she begins to paint, but the paintings come together―sometimes if she just walks away or works on another painting.

The painting Little Chief with Dog needed something before it was finished, “so I added the feathers on the ledge. There needed to be a little red there, but it couldn’t take away from the dog.”

Little Chief with Dog
Little Chief with Dog

When asked if the single pearl earring in Acrobat with Pearl is a  reference to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, she replies, “No, you just can’t see the other one.” She recalls her grandmother’s love of jewelry and her unrolling her jewelry wraps to show her granddaughter the treasures inside.

Ronquillo is drawn to Picasso, as well as Watteau, and likes the characters in commedia dell’arte―the harlequin costume appears often in her work, although she says the pattern is tedious to paint. She keeps a “mental card catalog” of literary, musical and art historical references to draw on for inspiration.

Acrobat with Pearl
Acrobat with Pearl

Her latest paintings are in the exhibition Possession at Wally Workman Gallery in Austin, Texas, March 7 through 28. Possession, Ronquillo says, “refers to ownership, as well as to the mental state of infatuation,” as she recalls the lyrics of Kate Bush’s song Cloudbusting:

But everytime it rains
You’re in my head
Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is
     going to happen
And I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it 

Her characters are “children in an adult role,” Ronquillo explains, “they’re so serious in a sometimes ridiculous situation. Some people think they’re sad. I find them amusing. I don’t want them to be jokes though. They are characters who believe in their moment, living in their own reality.”

Acrobat with Dove
Acrobat with Dove

“Fatima’s work fascinates the intellectual and the aesthetic mind. Through her incredible layering, symbolism and rich coloring, angelic yet curious characters emerge and reach between centuries, whispering a narrative that finds life within the viewer’s mind. Each piece is truly a treasure, full of history and sparkle.” ―Rachel Stephens, partner, Wally Workman Gallery


Solo Exhibition: “Possession”

I am pleased to announce “Possession” ―an exhibit of new works at the Wally Workman Gallery in Austin, Texas. The show runs from March 7-28 with an opening reception on Saturday, March 7th, 6-8 pm. There is also a Preview Happy Hour on Thursday, March 5th, 5-8pm.

“Possession” is a body of work wherein figures are in the act or contemplation of possessing something or someone or are themselves possessed by something or someone. Portraits are in essence vignettes of personalities held in cherished objects. While there is the sure self-possession of the hunters and the beloveds, there also lurks the uncertainty within those emotionally possessed or even inexplicably and literally bound. Most often an ambiguity exists: is the figure the possessor or the possessed?

Red, yellow and Blue: new works at Wally Workman

Yellow and Red
“Yellow and Red” 7×5 inches, oil on panel @ Wally Workman SOLD
Cadet with Red Bow
“Cadet with Red Bow” 8×6 inches, oil on panel SOLD
Boy with Crown
“Boy with Crown” 8×6 inches, oil on panel @ Wally Workman SOLD
Short-haired Girl with Pearls
“Short-haired Girl with Pearls” 8×6 inches, oil on panel SOLD
Little Chief
“Little Chief” 7×5 inches, oil on panel SOLD

Opening night: Private Revolution

Fatima Ronquillo’s new paintings come across as Wes Anderson directing the ghost of José Gil de Castro in rendering a series of children’s portraits influenced by Edward Gorey. But you don’t have to grok our transcultural  meaning to appreciate the sublime, enigmatic beauty of these oil-on-panel wonders…. ~ The Austin Chronicle, April 5, 2013


Returning to Austin for a show is like coming home, seeing old friends and revisiting favored haunts. Wally Workman’s peach and chartreuse building was as welcoming as ever. There are more photos to be seen on the gallery’s blog. Thank you to all those who attended and gave their support. For those who missed it, the show closes on the 27th, so do stop in and check it out.


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