Local Heroes

The 2015 class of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame

Local Heroes
Photo by John Anderson

Fidencio Duran

Simply put, Fidencio Duran is a family man. The paintings and murals that have been his calling card for more than three decades draw fundamentally from his family experience and Latino heritage. The son of tenant farmers and the seventh child of 10, Duran grew up listening to his father's tales of his hometown in central Mexico, and they made such a deep impression on him that they ultimately forged his creative identity. Duran's artwork is figurative, typically depicting scenes in and around South Texas homes in all their endearing domesticity: two women and a girl tending flowering cacti, a father with a baby in his arms watching someone fly a kite, two boys in their Sunday best eating watermelon at a picnic, folklorico dancers, a quinceañera. But Duran has the ability to make the domestic epic, as with his massive nine-panel painting The Visit, which spans the length of the ticket counter at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and his murals at Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center, Montopolis Neighborhood Center, Austin Community College Riverside, Holly Power Plant, and Dell Children's Medical Center. He has not only recorded the family life and history of a culture that's been too often neglected in Austin's arts scene, but, with his vivid colors and large scale, has elevated it to something extraordinary, even heroic. And Duran has shared this gift for making such work with children across the state, painting collaborative murals with elementary school, middle school, and high school students in Austin, Del Valle, Victoria, Tyler, and Brownsville. The recognition that has come Duran's way in recent years – finalist status in the 2015 Hunting Art Prize and the national Cuervo Mural Tradicional Project, a residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute, a solo exhibit at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, serving as inaugural artist for Austin Classical Guitar's new music and art series, Play! – testify to his importance as a regional and national artist, but no doubt whatever acclaim Duran achieves, he'll continue to keep his art all in the family.

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