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Fifty Shades of Gay

Urban Eats showcases work of Pride Portraits artist Hugo Perez.

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Gay Houston artist Hugo Perez will showcase 50 pieces at Urban Eats from July 2 through September 30. The exhibition will include a public reception on August 18.

This will not be the first time the community has had an opportunity to enjoy Perez’s work. More than 3,000 people from all over the world have been photographed in front of the backdrop painted by Perez for Pride Portraits. Heights residents are also familiar with Perez’s Pride Wall mural on the side of Jenni’s Noodle House on East 20th Street.

Perez says the Urban Eats exhibition will offer something different and a bit more personal.

“I’ve been asked before to exhibit at restaurants, but I never felt it was the right space for my work,” Perez says. “This time, it felt different. Not only is the establishment owned by partners Levi Rollins and Eric Munoz, members of the LGBTQ community, but they are committed to promoting local art. That resonates with me because I feel like Houston is full of undiscovered talent.”

Rollins agrees. He invited Perez to exhibit at the restaurant in part based on the artist’s ongoing commitment to the LGBTQ community. “Hugo’s art is figurative, informative, and contemporary; he is inspirational,” Rollins says. “Hugo’s commitment to our community [goes beyond] his true gift of creativity; from his involvement in #BeVisible to Positive Exchange and Pride Portraits. I am excited to share his amazing work with our friends, family, and customers.”

Perez was born in San Francisco, but moved to Houston as a child after his parents divorced. The Bay Area still provides him with a great deal of inspiration that can be seen in the work he produces today.

“As a kid, I still remember being in awe of all the brightly colored murals throughout the city.” Perez says.

Perez earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Art Institute of Houston, with a specialization in graphic design. After graduating he worked for an ad agency, but he eventually realized that he missed painting.

“I fell in love with the process of making work for myself,” Perez says. “There is a sense of freedom one gets from making things without the input of a client. I think people connect with that sense of freedom.”

The artist’s work is inspired by day-to-day life. Perez says his influences include Francis Bacon, Marc Chagall, and David Hockney.

“My work is heavily textured and very expressive. To achieve this, I use a combination of acrylic paint and pastel sticks,” he says. “This allows me to build layer upon layer much faster than oils. I prefer this medium because it lets me concentrate on the composition without the worry of slow drying times.”

The Urban Eats installation ranges from small drawings on paper to large works on stretched canvas. “The installation will include some of my earlier pieces, but will also include new art that I am really excited to exhibit. The paintings have a surreal quality that pushes the boundaries of what is considered figurative art. The installation is like a retrospective of sorts—a timeline showing experimentation and growth.”

What: Hugo Perez exhibit at Urban Eats
Where: Urban Eats, 3414 Washington Ave.
When: July 2 through September 30, with a public reception on August 18.
More info: HelloHugo.netFeastUrbanEats.com

This article appears in the July 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine. 

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Ryan Leach

Ryan Leach is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine. Follow him on Medium at www.medium.com/@ryan_leach.
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