Jesus Cruz, Jr., born and raised in Fontana, was an educator for 34 years before retiring and devoting his time to his printmaking. “During my years as an educator, I drew a lot of pen-and-ink drawings in my spare time,” Cruz says. His drawings are distinguished by his strong thick and thin lines that achieve a crisp, finished look.
After taking a printmaking class at Riverside City College, Cruz found another medium to further develop his style. “I really liked linoleum block printing the best,” he says. “My ink-and-pen drawings worked well and I was able to develop my style by carving every day. The more I carved the better my prints turned out. My ‘style’ is a work in progress. I have only been carving and printing for about 13 years. When I began this artistic endeavor, I was not expecting too much. In fact, it was hard for me to say that I was an artist. My art journey has given me the opportunity to meet many fine artists who inspire me to create more art.”
"About 50 percent of my imagery is Day of the Dead,” he says, referring to the October 31 – November 2 celebrations popular among Latinos and in Mexico. “The Day of the Dead imagery represents people and events in my life that I cherish. Many people in my life that have passed away are oftentimes represented in my carvings and prints.”
Cruz’s relationship with Andover Fabrics in New York came about after a representative visiting the county fair in Los Angeles saw Cruz’s designs in a gallery booth. Cruz eventually agreed to license some of his images with the fabric company that developed four fabric lines using his floral designs and whimsical characters.
Cruz is an active partner with other artists and arts organizations, participating in Division 9 Gallery’s annual Day of the Dead event, as well as in the Ontario Museum of History and Art’s Day of the Dead event. He also is part of the annual Cinco de Mayo event in downtown Riverside and has demonstrated for the California State Fair, Los Angeles County Fair, and Festival of Lights. Each month, he demonstrates printmaking in Division 9 during downtown Riverside’s Artswalk on First Thursdays.
For more information on Cruz, visit CruzPrints.com.
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