Artist Walks Into “Bubble” & Creates Visual World

By:

Artist Walks Into “Bubble” & Creates Visual World

The Artworld of Manuel Hinojosa is currently on display at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art.
The Artworld of Manuel Hinojosa is currently on display at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art.

Manuel Hinojosa walks between the exhibit rooms of the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, the faces of his sports heroes looking back at him.

A collection of 200 Manuel Hinojosa will be on display until May 28 at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art.
A collection of 200 Manuel Hinojosa will be on display until May 28 at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art.

Many are childhood heroes – the boys of summer – be it Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays, with current stars like Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros included among the baseball greats.  Hinojosa himself is wearing an Astros cap, as he often does, a smile underneath in giving a tour of 200 paintings hanging at the Brownsville museum. 

Hinojosa painted everything on display, with many more at his Port Isabel home. The boy from Mission who “liked to doodle a lot” grew up to become a city manager, an architect, and as can be abundantly seen at the museum, an artist. He started painting in grade school. Hinojosa hasn’t stopped since then. His wide scope of art work includes paintings of athletes, historical and entertainment figures, book illustrations and battlefield scenes.

One of Manuel Hinojosa's paintings portrays Herbie Hinojosa, a Brownsville native and championship horse jockey.
One of Manuel Hinojosa’s paintings portrays Herbie Hinojosa, a Brownsville native and championship horse jockey.

Hinojosa’s journey is an eventful one. The story of his art began with lessons as a youngster in Mission. An undergraduate degree in art would then follow after high school. There would be diversions away from art during a multi-faceted career, but painting has been a constant in his life. His devotion to it has never wavered. In the process, he ultimately created “The Artworld of Manuel Hinojosa,” with a sign in front of the museum making it official.

The Hinojosa artistic display began on April 8 with an evening reception that attracted hundreds of admirers. It will continue through May 28 at the fine art museum. Just before the early April reception arrived, Hinojosa walked the museum floors with his paintings all around him, describing what it meant to him.

“To see all of these paintings up, this is my lifetime work,” he said.

Going Into A Zone

It started with a school teacher in Mission who noticed the obvious. 

Manuel Hinojosa could really draw. 

A display at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art features Manuel Hinojosa's love of sports, especially baseball.
A display at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art features Manuel Hinojosa’s love of sports, especially baseball.

His parents were called to alert them of their son’s talents, with a recommendation that young Manuel receive dedicated instruction. Starting in fifth grade and through his high school years, Hinojosa had weekly art instruction in learning essential skills and techniques. An undergraduate art degree from Pan American University in Edinburg was the next step in his development as an artist.

Hinojosa then spent a stretch of his working life in municipal government. He worked in urban renewal programs in the 1960s. There would be stints as a city manager in San Benito and Port Isabel, a community he and his wife took a liking to, and where they live still today.

Hinojosa was also drawn to architecture, studying it at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He would ultimately go on to enjoy a successful career in in the field. He is currently a district architect for the Brownsville Independent School District.

His true passion, however, is evident in the 200 paintings on display at the museum. Through all of the years of working in other endeavors, he has always painted, “walking into the bubble,” as he put it. 

Muhammad Ali was impressed by Manuel Hinojosa's depiction of him and signed a special message on the painting.
Muhammad Ali was impressed by Manuel Hinojosa’s depiction of him and signed a special message on the painting.

“You go into a zone and paint,” Hinojosa said. “You sit down on a Saturday and you don’t get up. You’re creating something from nothing. It’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else.”

Cast Of Characters

Muhammed Ali held up an artistic likeness of him in the early 1990s, peering at it, and was suitably impressed.

“You did this?” he asked the artist. “What’s your name?”

The artist stated his name and the legendary boxer signed the painting, “To Manuel Hinojosa From Muhammed, 1-16-92.”

The signatory flourish with a cloud-looking bubble around it was more than Hinojosa wanted in his painting.

“What could I say?” Hinojosa recalled “It was Muhammed Ali.”

Manuel Hinojosa's art work includes historical depictions from the Texas Revolution era.
Manuel Hinojosa’s art work includes historical depictions from the Texas Revolution era.

Ali is among the hundreds of famous athletes Hinojosa has met over the years, as he has asked them to put their signatures on his paintings. Some of the athletes he has painted, like Mays, Mantle and Hank Aaron, have disappointed when asking for their signatures in person. Others like Mr. Cub, Chicago’s Ernie Banks, were delights to meet, as was Ali. 

Hinojosa has successfully gotten the signatures of nearly every famous athlete he has painted, be it in person at card shows and events, or through mailed requests. It’s not only the well-known athletes who have intrigued him. He spoke fondly of Herbie Hinojosa, a Brownsville native and horse jockey, who in his 1960s heyday, raced in Triple Crown races and won over 3,000 races.

Hinojosa’s art display includes a striking portrait of the jockey, wearing black boots, white pants and a crimson red vest. The diminutive horse jockey is but one character among the hundreds Hinojosa has studied and then painted. Seeing his museum display is a peek into his bubble, imagining what it has taken to create so much art work over so many years. The boy who loved to doodle has thus created a world all his own.

Manuel Hinojosa looks over a painting of Major League Baseball's Triple Crown winners.
Manuel Hinojosa looks over a painting of Major League Baseball’s Triple Crown winners.

Ricardo D. Cavazos is a Rio Grande Valley native and journalist who has worked as a reporter, editor and publisher at Texas newspapers. Cavazos formerly worked as a reporter and editorial writer at The Brownsville Herald, Dallas Times Herald, Corpus Christi Caller-Times and San Antonio Light. He served as editor of The Monitor in McAllen from 1991-1998 and from there served for 15 years as publisher at The Herald in Brownsville. Cavazos has been providing content for the Valley Business Report since 2018.

Comments