Mark Villarreal Exhibit to Open at Boulder JCC Messinger Gallery

Mark Villarreal by Lillian Almeida 2013

Mark Villarreal, a Boulder-based abstract painter, is opening a new exhibition at the Boulder JCC Messinger Gallery. Villarreal, who has been painting for 40 years, draws inspiration through his travels to Europe and Cuba, jazz standards from the 1950s through the 1960s, and the Byzantine paintings of the 13th and 14th centuries. This eclectic framework, with the art of the Italian Renaissance at the center, provided Villarreal with a unique and individual vocabulary of abstraction. 

In the last few years, Villareal has developed quite an affinity for the work of Arshile Gorky, Perle Fine, and Lee Krasner. While a student, he passed over Gorky’s delicate brush strokes and washes of color, preferring the thick smears and splashes of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. “Now that I am ready to see what he was up to, I am intrigued by how feminine his work compares to the swagger of his contemporaries,” states Villarreal. For the past four years, he placed greater importance on a delicate line and the quiet application of paint. 

In this exhibit, ranging over 10 years of Villarreal’s work, with Ivory Icon as the oldest, he names each piece after meaningful places he’s visited. He wants the titles to be a point of departure for the audience. With his most recent work, Tanio, which is reflected by a trip to Cuba, he felt connected and inspired to name these pieces after the indigenous people of the Caribbean. 

Villarreal states, “Consider these paintings short stories, Matanza painting no.5 and Taino painting no.7 are not studies for larger paintings, they are complete, intimate and stand on their own. Working within this shorter format is a personal challenge for me. Over the years I have made smaller works, mainly on paper but this is my first complete body of work devoted to intimacy with the viewer.”

Earning his BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute, Villarreal moved to Colorado, where he established an extensive exhibition record that includes the Denver Art Museum, The Dairy Arts Center, and The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, along with several commercial galleries in Denver and Santa Fe. Villarreal first saw the Messinger Art Gallery, when visiting Boulder JCC with the Boulder Arts Commission and found the place remarkable and envisioned a feature collaboration. Mark has served on The Dairy Art Center board for two years and the Boulder Arts Commission for five years, where he was the board chair for two of these years. 

Mark Villarreals new exhibit is opening at the Boulder JCC Messinger Art Gallery on Thursday, May 30 from 5:30 – 7 pm. You can register ahead of time at the Boulder JCC website, if you have any questions please contact Acy Jackson at

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