EL PASO, Texas—Dramatic portraits and other artworks by Gaspar Enriquez will get a hometown nod later this month when an El Paso museum showcases 63 of his creations.

The El Paso Museum of Art will open "Metaphors of El Barrio," a retrospective of Enriquez's 30 years as a painter, on Jan. 26.

The 71-year-old's works are widely collected and exhibited in museums and galleries across the U.S., The El Paso Times ( http://bit.ly/1eWOVYh) reported Sunday.

His subjects include children, teenagers, ordinary people and other artists from the part of El Paso where he grew up. His works frequently reflect the importance of various aspects of Mexican-American life.

Enriquez recently told the newspaper about how a single mother steered him away from gangs, how he struggled in college, how he excelled as a machinist and how he almost set out to become an architect before finally landing at Bowie High School 30 years ago to teach art.

He said his late wife, Ann, motivated him to pursue college, the arts and a career as an art teacher.

Enriquez said that when he started painting portraits of his students, it was not just to record realistic images.

"I wanted to bring out their character, their soul," he said. "I wanted to inspire dignity and give them self-esteem."

Christian Gerstheimer, the exhibit's curator, said Enriquez's art has been admired, exhibited and collected because it is serious and real and confronts relevant issues.


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"This is the first large retrospective exhibition ever held here for Gaspar about his work," he said. "It's comprehensive."

Hilda Rosenfeld, an artist in El Paso, said an art teacher once told her to paint what she knew.

"That's exactly what Gaspar does," Rosenfeld said. "He paints the people that he knows, his students, the culture of the barrio, their attitudes, their soul. His portraits come alive."

The exhibition closes May 4.

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Information from: El Paso Times, http://www.elpasotimes.com