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Neighbor Spotlight: Jaasiel Barrientos

HOGANSVILLE – The Daily News’ weekly Neighbors series features one person from LaGrange and the surrounding area.This week we sought a little artistic inspiration with Jaasiel Barrientos, a local artist whose work was featured at the Visual Artists Alliance’s 10th anniversary show at The Suffering Artist.

LaGrange Daily News: Where are you from?

Barrientos: I was born in Mexico, and I came here to LaGrange in 2000 – so 16 years ago.

LDN: What brought you here?

Barrientos: My brother graduated from LaGrange College, and I was living in Laredo, Texas at that time, so I came for his graduation. Georgia is much nicer then Laredo – LaGrange is much nicer then Laredo – so I decided to move here.

LDN: How did you get started as an artist?

Barrientos: I guess I had an existential crisis, and I said I need to do something with my life, so I went to the museum in Washington, D.C. – the National Gallery (of Art) in Washington – and I was overwhelmed. So, I said, ‘You know what? I think I am going to become an artist.’ Now when I was in West Georgia Tech, my teacher is the one who influenced me. He was the deciding factor, so that is how I got into art.

LDN: How has your style changed since you first got started?

Barrientos: When I decided to become an artist, I started with regular landscapes and portraits and learning the basics, learning about composition, value, color theory, so I decided to do that kind of art – the museum kind of art like Greek Mythology. … James Arnold, he influenced me – or he helped me – to do abstract art, so when I decided to go pro, I decided to go with abstract, and I started getting good reviews. I started selling paintings, so I postponed my portraits and landscapes and decided to focus more on abstracts. I am glad that I learned everything about composition, and this so that I could know the rules, so that I can break the rules. That is what I am doing with abstract now.

LDN: What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t painting?

Barrientos: I enjoy reading. I read about composition, and I read about art for many years, but I don’t do that anymore. I love astronomy. I love math, and I’ve been getting into Chinese medicine lately. Lately I’ve been reading about Chinese medicine and how the body sends you messages to heal itself, but we don’t listen because we are so worried. Being an artist and just seeing visualization and insight kind of got me interested in Chinese medicine.

LDN: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Barrientos: When I decided to be an artist, I decided to influence people just like me. Art was so overwhelming that it really took perseverance to pursue professional art as a career. Then I interviewed other artists, and I asked them, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of becoming an artist. What can you tell me?’ And everyone said, you can do it. It is difficult, but it is possible, so then I started learning about myself and got great mentors, and when I do my art, I try to influence people to do the same – to motivate themselves to improve whether with learning another language or learning music or learning how art can improve their life. That is why I do art.

‘Neighbors’ is a weekly series by the Daily News that highlights community members. To nominate a person to be featured, call 706-884-7311.