Porfirio Salinas

Porfirio Salinas

PORFIRIO SALINAS (1910 - 1973)

Porfirio Salinas, Jr., painter, son of Porfirio G. Salinas and Clara G. Chávez, was born in Bastrop, Texas, on November 6, 1910. He attended the public schools of San Antonio for three years and was largely self-taught as an artist. He learned from watching José Arpa, director of the San Antonio Art School, sketch in the streets and fields of San Antonio. He also learned from Robert Wood, a prolific landscape painter, who paid him five dollars a picture to paint in bluebonnets on his canvases because "he hated to paint bluebonnets." Salinas dedicated himself to painting landscapes of Central Texas with particular attention to the bluebonnets that grow in abundance in the springtime. Although Salinas did not receive the attention of the professional art establishment-art galleries and museums, and art critics and art historians-he achieved a popular following among many Texans as well as the political leaders of Texas and the United States, among them Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson, who began to collect his work in the 1940s. The recognition of his work beyond the borders of Texas dates from Johnson's presidency. This popularity allowed Salinas to command high prices for his work. Salinas was conscripted and served in the army from October 12, 1943, to 1945. He was assigned to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he painted murals for the officers' lounge and other special assignments for Col. Telesphor G. Gottchalk, reception center commander. He was allowed to live at home, where he continued his easel painting for the entire duration of his tour of duty. He married Maria Bonillas, a native of Guadalajara, on February 15, 1942. She was working in San Antonio as a secretary at the office of the Mexican National Railways when they met. She assisted him in all his dealings with his agent, Dewey Bradford, of Austin, who was primarily responsible for selling his work. The Salinases had one child. Salinas was a Catholic. The city of Austin celebrated a Porfirio Salinas Day in 1973. The painter was honored for having "done much to bring the culture of Mexico and Texas closer together with his paintings." Salinas lived his entire life in San Antonio, where he died on April 18, 1973.

Selected Biographical and Career Highlights

  • 1910, born in Bastrop, Texas
  • Apprenticed to Robert Wood and Jose Arpa
  • 1943-45, serves in the U.S. Army
  • President Lyndon Johnson commissions Salinas to paint a Texas landscape that was to have been presented to President John F. Kennedy on the day he was assassinated
  • 1973, dies in San Antonio

Selected Exhibitions

  • 1940, Exhibition of Paintings by Texas Artists, J.W. Young Galleries, Chicago
  • 1947, Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin
  • 1953, San Antonio Local Artists Annual Exhibition
  • 1989, Painters of Texas Artists 1900-1950, Museums of Abilene
  • 1991, Survey of Texas Artists 1890-1990, Longview Museum and Arts Center
  • 1994, Images of Texas 1880-1950, Art Center, Waco
  • 1997, Hock Shop Collection: Rediscovering Texas Artists of the Past, Museum of the Big Bend, Alpine

Selected Public Collections

  • Governor’s Mansion, Austin
  • J. Wayne Stark University Center Galleries, Texas A&M University, College Station
  • Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  • Stark Museum of Art, Orange
  • Buckhorn Hall of horns and Fort Sam Houston Officers Club, San Antonio
  • Burleson Hall, Baylor University, Waco
  • Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center
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