Meet The Artists

Yolanda Valdes

Yolanda Valdes
My interest in art began at an early age. In my native city of Ensenada, B.C., Mexico, my first teachers encouraged me to paint what was around me. Soon I developed a love of nature and found inspiration in its many forms. The ideas for my artwork are often a direct response to the landscape. Done in the "plein air" tradition, they are painted in the environment that inspires them.

While my landscapes are representational, some of my other artwork is imaginative and somewhat abstract. I enjoy using a variety of media, because after years of exploration, I find my preference of medium depends on the subject at hand.

Also, I am fascinated by the role culture plays in enhancing people's lives; it is a realization I came to through nine years of teaching in a kindergarten I opened in Mexico. Perhaps it was this understanding that moved me to travel outside my country, to Oregon.

Since graduating from Portland State University, I have shared my interest in art with children and adults in various ways. I taught Spanish through art and cultural awareness in Lake Oswego Public Schools and at Catlin Gabel Progressive Independent Day School in Portland. It has also been a joy teaching children painting in workshops at various fairs, festivals and summer programs.

Community service has been another important way for me to use art to give back. I've been honored by invitations to participate in art programs for seniors and underprivileged children in Mexico, Costa Rica and Bolivia. One of the most memorable and emotional experiences I've had was surviving the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City and then providing support during the aftermath. Here in Oregon, I have volunteered with the Migrant Education and STEAM programs within the public school system.

I feel fortunate that my participation in art has been such a highly rewarding experience. My artwork has been viewed and recognized in juried shows and national and international exhibits, as well as through purchase awards and corporate commissions. Above all, these achievements have given me the opportunity to share my art and to meet wonderful friends.

In 1999, I met Mike McMenamin at the Mexican Consulate office of Alma Patricia Soria. Mike had heard about my work from a mutual friend. I brought some paintings to show him and was delighted when he invited me to create art for the remodeling of McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon. Since then, I've painted for McMenamins Crystal Ballroom in Portland and here at the Old St. Francis School. I enjoy the concept of creating art that reflects the cultural, historical and social make-up of a community.

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