The Friends Of Western Art - Artist Of The Year for 2017 is the self taught artist of historic western paintings, Santos Barbosa. This honor and recognition comes after a lifetime of dedication to his mastery of art.
Santos Barbosa was born in Mc Allen, Texas a small town on the border of Mexico. He has always drawn people and places, and while serving a 2 year stint in the US Army, he spent spare time creating renderings of his fellow Army buddies and their sweethearts.
In the 1970’s he sold his first pieces in “mall shows” of the Tucson area on weekends. His daytime job as a sign painter for Pima County provided the support of his family, while the need to create art provided him room to grow as an artist. He had the constant support of his wife Mary and the cheerleading of his children, and now grandchildren.
He once told me, “I’m fortunate to have my job with the county”. When I asked him why, he said “because we have to be at work at 8:30am but we don’t get our assignments till 10, so I spend that time working on my current painting”.
Santos began displaying his artwork throughout the 70’s at the Pima County Fair. Here he won Best of Show and various other awards.
His inspiration comes from many different sources. Reading historic stories & books, watching western movies and TV shows and traveling to historic western sites have all combined to peak his interest in various subject matter for his work. His many followers and fine art collectors often have their own favorites. They range from buffalo runs, rainy campfire scenes, to historic train and stagecoach renderings and the peaceful Missions of San Xavier and Capistrano, Native American tipi camps or pastoral ranch scenes.
In the early 80’s he worked for Kay Mallack Studios drawing graphics. He also started showing at the Mountain Oyster Club Art show, where he is in the permanent collection, and is now an honorary artist member.
Some of the many shows he participated in were the Phippen Show in Prescott
where he won 2nd place in 1992.
His work was represented in the former El Presidio Galleries and Max Gallery, and in Jane Hamilton Fine Art formerly in Bisbee and now in Tucson. Jane Hamilton Fine Art celebrating its 24th year in business is located at the SW corner of Skyline / Campbell.
In 2011 Santos was voted Best of Show at the Empire Ranch Show. And in 2014 he was nominated the Baile Artist of The Year for St Luke’s Home - the Baile is annual fundraiser for the oldest charity event in Tucson. St Luke’s Home - Board of Visitors is that raises funds for a senior assisted living complex and is considered a prestigious honor.
And in 2015 won the Best of Show at the new Tucson Desert Art Museum- Four Corners Gallery “Missions of The Southwest” juried art show.
Since retiring from Pima County after 33 years, Santos is finally able to give his art work his full attention. The Friends of Western Art award for 2017 is a beautiful culmination to a career in the art world which is difficult to attain by a self taught artist.
Santos Barbosa, whose work I have represented since 1984 is a humble artist whose success has proven the axiom that talent combined with perseverance, hard work and patience can produce a great accomplishment.