An international artist by design

Interior designer and painter Cristina Rodriguez recently relocated to Ocala and will be featured in MCA’s “Arte Hispano” in September.

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Posted August 26, 2022 | By Julie Garisto
julie@magnoliamediaco.com

Blooming Girl
Acrylic on canvas

Cristina Rodriguez just moved to Ocala four months ago and she’s poised to make a gran impresión in the local art scene and beyond.

The Colombian-born interior designer/artist has worked in all media throughout her life. She lived in Mexico for a time and conceptualized sets for Telemundo. She recently relocated here from Miami. Her ability to habituate to different settings mirrors her explorative spirit as a designer and artist.

“I love to stay busy,” Rodriguez emphasized.

This week, she is busy relocating her paintings from Miami, which will debut locally in the Marion Cultural Alliance’s “Arte Hispano” show from Sept. 2 to Oct. 1 at the MCA’s Brick City Center for the Arts, or the Brick.

The exhibit commemorates National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed in the U.S. from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The multimedia show will feature works by six artists of Hispanic origin who now call Central Florida home: Rodriguez, Amy Alvarado (Alva Boutique, fashion), Ed Pérez Pérez (painting), Fabiola Asuaje (audiovisual), Saul Reyes (photography) and Alma Lugo (painting).

“All participating artists in this exhibit are native Spanish speakers from various Hispanic regions, including Puerto Rico, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela,” said Ashley Justiniano, events and gallery manager at the Brick.

“For most, like Cristina, it is their first time exhibiting in the Ocala Metro,” Justiniano added.

Rodriguez was born in the coastal town Montería and grew up in Medellín. She has a degree in interior design and has worked in ceramics in addition to painting.

“I love everything that has to do with sculpture and everything that has to do with manual arts,” she said.

The word “everything” comes up more than once while talking to Rodriguez, suggesting that inclusivity and openness are important to her. She paints everything from commissioned portraits to landscapes and murals.

“I paint real faces, imaginary faces,” she said. “I work every day and I’m inspired every day.”

Her subjects include animals and humans.

“I have many animals here in Ocala,” she said, “horses, goats, chickens. My husband is a horse trainer and we live around four minutes from WEC (the World Equestrian Center). We’ve been together for almost seven years and we bought our farm because we wanted to come and live in such a super-rural area, and we love all of it.”

Rodriguez’s expressive, intricate large-format paintings reflect her ability to be both magnanimous and meticulous.

“I work a lot in acrylic with a spatula, sponge and brush,” she explained. “Most of my paintings are around 8-by-9-feet tall, but there are some small ones.”

Her mother, an artist in her youth, was a big inspiration for her. Growing up, Rodriguez would annoy her mom by stealing her fashion magazines and painting over the eyes and other facial features of the cover models.

Productivity seems to be in her genes. She has a 20-year-old daughter who is a medical student at Nova University Southeastern University and plans to become a cosmetic surgeon.

Whatever Rodriguez does, she does it wholeheartedly.

“I have never been pretentious; I don’t like it,” she said with a mix of humor and conviction.

The newly transplanted artist plans to attend the Sept. 2 opening reception of “Arte Hispano,” which will coincide with the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Ocala, with an artists’ reception from 5 to 7 p.m. that will feature Spanish guitar music by Nino Castañeda and include cocktails, tapas and other refreshments.

“We are beyond excited to be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at MCA’s Brick City Center for the Arts,” said Justiniano. “As gallery director for the Cultural Alliance and a Hispanic member of the community, I feel it is essential to produce events that represent my culture, that showcase the diversity and talent of our local Hispanic and Latinx artists. We hope to expand our reach to the growing Hispanic/Latinx community in Marion County and let them know that MCA is available as a platform for local art and culture… y que aquí se habla español.”

“Arte Hispano” will be on view through Oct. 1 at MCA’s Brick City Center for the Arts. Gallery admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tueday-Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Other events associated with “Arte Hispano” include an “In Memoriam” section featuring the art of Carlos Juan Vázquez Cruz, Mónica Garcés (yoga in the gallery) and Baila Caliente Ocala (salsa class). For more information, visit mcaocala.org or call 352-369-1500. Se habla Epañol.