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Natural Born Artist: Acclaimed Newark Painter Puts on a Home Town Exhibit

Diego Marcial Rios is the latest artist to bring his works to the NewPark Mall Cultural Corner. Here is a Q&A with the artist.

By the time Diego Marcial Rios was 3 years old, it was apparent he had an eye for the arts. 

“I loved to paint and draw. Others saw that I had a natural ability. By the time I was about 3 or 4 years old, I knew for sure that I wanted to do art forever!” said Rios. 

It's years later and Rios’ love for creating artwork is still going strong. He will not only be showing his newest collection of works , but will also be working on a portable mural on site Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 29 and 30, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., so that visitors can witness the creative process.

Rios took the time to answer a few of Patch’s questions before his latest show begins at the NPM Cultural Corner. The exhibition, with a timely theme of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) will consist of masks, paintings, and prints produced by Rios in a Mexican-influenced style. 

Q: What first inspired you to become an artist? Was there a particular moment that happened or a painting you saw that sparked something within you?

A: I was very serious about my art since childhood. I can remember my father lifting me up to get a better view of a mural called El Hombre de Fuego by Jose Clemente Orozco. This was in Mexico in the mid-1960s. I was never the same after I saw the huge mural.

Q: How and when did your professional art career begin?

A: I started selling my drawings to publishing houses in Berkeley by the time I was 11 years old. Even at that age, it was very obvious that I had great control over line drawing and detail. I started professional art school at age 14 in San Francisco. I went on to get a BA from UC Berkeley; MA in fine art from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and an MFA in art from UW Madison. This was when I was only 25 or 26 years old, maybe even younger. [Around that time] museums started collecting my art. (That was nuts!). I had my first museum one-person show at age 26 or so.

Q: Where has your work been shown?

A: Over the past years, over 450 exhibitions from Japan to Bulgaria. Sort of nuts.

Q: Do you wear any other professional hats? 

A: Believe it or not, I also found time to get a CLP (civil law) from the University of San Francisco. I worked in a criminal defense firm for over eight years. I also obtained a PI [private investigator] license about that time. 

In about 2000, I got another job working for Catholic Charities of San Francisco as an employment counselor.

Q: What artists inspire you? 

A: My inspirations are Jose Clemente Orozco and Albrech Durer. 

Q: If you could meet any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

A: I would want to meet Leonardo da Vinci. I am sure he was a cool guy!

Q: Where do you like to work from? How does your creative process work?

A: I produce art in my art studio in Newark. I love Newark. It is quiet here! I listen to the radio when I work, [mostly] rock ‘n roll. My creative process is traditional. I produce art just as the old masters did centuries ago — nothing new. First I create a design concept. After this, I create the actual art work. 

Q: What can the public expect from your show at NewPark?

A: The public can expect to see a professional artist paint, draw and answer questions.

Check out Rios’ exhibit at the NewPark Mall Cultural Corner Oct. 29-30, 2011. 

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