By Annie Dockery, Managing Editor
With an explosion of color, Bonnie Chapa has burst into the art world in a powerful way.
After visiting the Frio River with her family and capturing the image that started her on the journey of becoming a recognized artist, Chapa found her own artistic vision.
“I hear color the way others hear music. I love photography, and capturing beautiful scenes or colorful patterns around us in Central Texas,” Chapa said. “Yet there has always been frustration because no matter how beautiful the photograph turns out, the music of the colors and patterns I saw through the lens was muted for me.”
“When we fell under the spell of the Frio River in the Texas Hill Country, I began to see images in my photographs that would not be silenced, and I found that music again with digital photo manipulation,” Chapa said.
Chapa took Commercial Art and Advertising after high school, and dropped out right before graduation. “I hung up my art hat. I had always been a creative thinker my entire life, but I hung it up; put it in the closet,” Chapa said.
She said, “after that, life just happened.”
“I have done everything from selling shoes to working in a deli to packing Styrofoam plates to working at every clothing shop in the mall and even doctor offices and then at the same time, went back to school and got my degree in Environmental Health and Safety.”
“So the art thing was put up but then I had kids and I started looking at the pictures that I was taking and I thought well if it was just a little different,” Chapa said. “That was the creative right side of my brain starting to come out but I was so busy being analytical on the left side of my brain with the job and everyday life that I kinda liked the escape of the creative aspect that it was giving me.”
Chapa, who still works a day job, is a relative new- comer to the art world. Her Frio River excursion, four years earlier gave her the release that she needed and that she knew was inside of herself.
“I still work for a property company in Waco and I have worked there for 15 years. I have worked from home since having my children,” Chapa said. “Life is tough and when you have art in your life and you have that escape and you are able to do that you feel better. There’s a peace that comes with that. When you create something.”
“There was a picture of my two boys, that is where it started, it came out what I had been doing with my pictures. The photograph of my kids, Logan and Landon, at the Frio River and I thought this would be a great picture for my husband, for Father’s Day. I tweaked it and I did my thing and I put the funk to it and it became this abstract painting of sorts.”
She continued to tweak the picture until it looked right to her.
“Until it made me happy, from the perspective of art, it made me happy. I printed it out on canvas and I gave it to him for Father’s day,” Chapa said. “That discovery unleashed the creativity I set aside so long ago. The symphony of color, form, function and symmetry takes my breath away, and I can play the music again and again as the image becomes the reflection of my vision, and more.”
The piece with which she gifted her husband with on that Father’s Day, still hangs in her house.
“People walk into my house that don’t know about the art and the first thing they say is “Where did you get that? That is awesome”, Chapa said.
She struggled to figure out if the pieces that she was creating were a form of art.
“I didn’t look at it as a fine art,” Chapa said. “After showing the pieces to my family and friends, my first stop was at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple. They said, yeah, this is art.”
The current visual art director, Marilyn Ritchie saw one of the canvases that Chapa had brought in and offered Chapa an exhibit of of her work.
As the time of the exhibit approached, Chapa inquired about how many pieces would be needed for the show.
“She (Ritchie) said “Oh, Bonnie, it’s the whole gallery,” Chapa said. “I just about died. I had fifty something pieces in that exhibit.”
After the show, she researched the best way to market her work.
“How do I market art on line, how do I create a social presence, do I need a website, how are all these other people doing it,” Chapa said. “I did that for a year.”
Chapa continued to research the best way to get prints and canvases made.
“It was important to me that everything be American made and that it was high quality,” Chapa said. “My concern was that this was going to have my art on it. I wanted it to be quality canvas, product, ink, the whole nine yards because that is what I would want to buy.”
“I did my best to get that all down and, of course, affordable” Chapa said. “Because that is the second part of this. I want my art to be affordable.”
Since beginning just a few short years ago, Chapa has had her art shown at Sofi’s At The Stagecoach, Salado, Texas, Cultural Activities Center Gift Shop, Temple, Texas, My Giving Tree Gift Shop and Gallery, Belton, Texas, Frio River Cabins, Leakey, Texas, Catahoula Gifts – Home Decor and Custom Woodworking, Leakey, Texas, The Art Center Waco, Waco, Texas, Handmade Rustic, Crosbyton, Texas, Kamme Art Gallery & Studio, Sanger, Texas, Springhill Suites Marriott, Waco / Woodway, Texas, and The Texas Gallery, Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, College Station, Texas.
Chapa is one of the first to have her work featured in Canvas & Cocktails in Temple. Currently, her pieces are being featured in Pignetti’s.
For more information about Chapa and her art visit http://bonniechapa.com/.