Ricardo Vicente Reyes

The author of The Dreamers has a remarkably keen taste for things we lump under the

heading of folk, aspects of which might be found in the comfortable haze of an unfinished plein air painting, the divinely mannerist preening

of a fop such as singer Willy DeVille, and the ingenuousness of a hand-lettering lost-pet circular.

One has only to walk the boulevard with him to develop a new appetite for textiles and architecture, flora and fauna,

and above all, form—naiveté and refinement, virtuosity and genius, hedonism and sensuality, the bold, the innate,

the studied and…the dreamed. If Isherwood was a camera, Ricardo Reyes is the eyes of a darkroom technician, ever charmed,

ever astonished by the master's skill, the amateur's passion, the child's delight.


Ricardo Vicente Reyes was born in the Bunker Hill district of downtown Los Angeles in 1949

and raised in Lincoln Heights. His mother, Florencia Valencia, was the spiritual as well as biological daughter of Mexican artisans.

She was an artist herself, and a collector of folk art, textiles and "things."


Like many a good Angeleno of Mexican descent in the 1960s, Reyes at first denied his heritage, preferring an uneasy assimilation.

This soon became impossible, as his mentors, nuclear physicist Francis B. Harrison and his then-wife Phyllis,

recognized Reyes's poorly sublimated struggle with identity. In 1968 he was abducted by the Harrisons and taken to Mexican state of Jalisco.

It was his first homecoming, and during a second visit he discovered the folk traditions of southern Mexico.

He found the work of his ancestors—ceramics, textiles, and toys—in the museums as well as homes, in collections as well as kitchens.

Ricardo spent the first half of the '70s in Michoacan, in love, and in love with the culture, all the while acquiring

an appreciation for the fast-changing Purepecha folkways.


Reyes was a member of the last graduating class of Los Angeles' Immaculate Heart College in 1980.

His college years were another homecoming of sorts, since he had been taught as a child by Corita Kent and other IHM sisters

in Immaculate Heart's innovative parochial program, which was regularly visited at the time

by the likes of John Cage and Ray and Charles Eames.


Since graduating, he has taught secondary students in the Los Angeles and San Francisco public schools,

drawing on his own unique education and experience. We can each point to the one or two special teachers who transcended

the mean role set for them by society and opened our hearts because they could

not help but open their own. Certainly "Mr. Reyes" had had that kind of impact for many of his students.


Ricardo Reyes has exhibited in various Northern and Southern California galleries,

and has curated exhibitions of contemporary and traditional art. His body of work—which includes painting, sculpture, assemblage,

and altar-building,as well as drawing—has been featured in books, catalogs, textbooks, and on film.

He is a much sought-after lecturer on subjects ranging from the mystique of the mermaid to the Mexican Day of the Dead.


— M. David Hughes



paintings drawings prints sculptures photographs installations writings biography