Anthony Pomales reflects the light in ‘Eres Hermosa Se Valiente’

The artist is set to debut his first solo show at Revolution Cycles on Saturday, Aug. 26.
Artwork by Anthony Pomales
Artwork by Anthony PomalesCourtesy the artist

Growing up in New York City, Anthony Pomales always kept a journal, often carrying it with him so he could write while traveling on the subway. As the years passed, though, the entries started to shift, moving from “angst-y teenage” musings, as he described them, to more rounded, introspective, empowering expressions.

“The older I got, the better I was at talking to myself,” Pomales said in a late August interview in his Clintonville art studio, where he was in the final stages of preparation for his debut solo show, “Eres Hermosa Se Valiente,” which opens at Revolution Cycles (1201 N. High St.) on Saturday, Aug. 26. “I would write more positive messages. … And then there would be self-reminders, and I would cover the page with this whole emotional [release], where it was like, ‘Oh, I remember when I felt that,’ and then allowing that feeling to rush over me. Or if I was going through something, I could remind myself of other times that were hard for me and how I got past them, like, ‘I’ve climbed that mountain and I’m way past that now.’ So, journaling became this huge thing for me, and there was a lot of positive self-talk that I found goes hand in hand with the images.”

Indeed, the paintings on display in Pomales’ exhibit are among his most personal public expressions to date, reflecting his Latin culture, his embrace of vulnerability as a form of strength, and the welcome anchoring pull of family, which he credited with helping to better ground him in more recent years. “I’m definitely the type of person who can be whimsical or hard to reach or kind of fleeting,” said Pomales, who moved to Columbus a year ago, settling near his artist brother, Adam Hernandez. “Living in New York, I was definitely a bit of a dilettante, and I did every kind of job you could think of. But then I turned 30 this year and my mom turned 60, so I think it’s just an integral time. It’s just a little bit written in the stars, I guess I would say.”

In addition to bringing Pomales closer to family, the move to Columbus has helped the artist clear his mind, introducing increased positivity, which he described as integral to his work. Pomales said he completed one of the paintings in the exhibit, which features a warrior in a seated position, arrow drawn back in their bow, during a trying personal stretch in New York, and it took him more than 18 months to complete. In comparison, a second painting done in Columbus and featuring a fairy-warrior squaring some unseen target in their rifle sight was completed in just two days.

“That painting [done in NYC] was really hard, but it was almost like a saving lifeboat, where I knew every day I could come back to it, and that I was sitting on this badass painting,” Pomales said. “It’s important to put out a good vibe. And it’s not always possible, but I think if the work is on canvas, if it’s something you want to make physical, it’s good to put that positivity into it. … My mom has this thing she says that’s really cool, where she says, ‘That’s why rainbows are so wonderful, because they’re always reflecting the light.’”

The spirit with which Pomales creates is captured in the title of the exhibit, which translates to “You Are Beautiful Be Brave” – a phrase the artist has adopted as something of a mantra. The idea is deeply embedded in works throughout the exhibition, taking physical form in the repeated warrior characters, many of whom are graced with butterfly wings. “It’s this idea of being a strong person, but also being vulnerable, and having that aspect where it’s really beautiful,” Pomales said.

Like his brother Hernandez, who in the past has set his paintings in the fictional Land of Thunderbirds, Pomales’ works are buoyed by an innate sense of imagination, which he traced to childhood and growing up with a father who performed as a clown at children’s birthday parties, and where playtime was a massive part of daily home life. Art is also in Pomales’ blood, the artist recalling the influence of his painter grandfather, whose style and approach left a strong early impression on him.

“I don’t think I want to use a word like ‘channeling’ with my grandfather, but I definitely feel very connected with the ancestors, like the spirits in the sky, or the spirits in the stars,” Pomales said, turning his gaze toward the surrounding paintings encircling the studio. “And I don’t know if I’ve ever seen these shapes before in my subconscious, but I definitely think these shapes and patterns have existed before, and I’m just a vessel for them. … Art has always been a form of escapism, and this beautiful, vulnerable thing I love to share with people. I think it’s a gift and a blessing, and I’ve never fought against it.”

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