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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 Mayor's Arts Awards! -- Juan Alonso

Growing up, Juan Alonso never had any intention of embarking on a career as a visual artist. Born in Havana, Cuba, Alonso arrived in the United States in 1966 as a boy. His father sent him to live with an aunt and uncle in Miami, Fla., in the hopes that Alonso would have a chance at a better life.

It was music that Juan first took up professionally, singing and playing guitar in Florida nightclubs in the late 1970s. He moved to Seattle in May of 1982, where his interest in painting and drawing flourished. Alonso's artwork harkens to his homeland. His paintings draw on childhood memories of Cuba and have evolved over the years from his trademark sensuous floral works to weathered abstractions inspired by the faded facades of Havana's ornate, historic buildings and currently focus on the foundation and inner workings of architectural structures.

Since his inclusion in a group show of Latin-American artists in 1986 at Seattle Center, what started out as a strong interest in the visual arts, became a lifetime commitment. This commitment is not exclusive to his career, however. Alonso promotes and mentors other artists, advocates for minority artists, is very involved with several arts organizations and spearheads fundraising efforts for various community causes.

Alonso's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America. He received a Neddy Fellowship in 1997 and the Morrie and Joan Alhadeff PONCHO Artist of the Year Award in 2007. His work is in public collections, including the city of Seattle, state of Oregon, Washington state's art in public places program, city of Everett, IMG Inc. in Tokyo, Microsoft, Safeco, AIDS Housing of Washington, Museum of Northwest Art and the Tacoma Art Museum. He has completed public art commissions for Qwest Field, Sea-Tac Airport, the King County Housing Authority's Greenbridge Neighborhood Park and Sound Transit's Columbia City light rail station.

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