Los Angeles – With the same dedication he employs to draws storybook scenes, Antonio Pelayo, head of the Special Effects Department at Disney Studios, recounts in pictures the migration of his family and does pencil portraits of Hispanic icons.
"The main collection of works in the gallery is about my family - I'm basically documenting the migration of my family from Mexico," Pelayo, who is exhibiting his works in the LAUNCH LA gallery in Los Angeles, told Efe.
"And what I do is take pictures from my parents' photo albums - some of the images I choose because they're interesting and others by intuition," he said.
Born on March 13, 1973 in the L.A. suburb of Glendale, Pelayo is the son of immigrants from the Mexican state of Jalisco who came to California in the late 1960s.
His dad's first job was taking care of horses at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, and of those times Pelayo has rescued images for his pictographic work entitled "My Family."
"I didn't draw anything in the background," Pelayo said. "I only focused on the images, because 'nothing behind us' is the way we feel when we emigrate to another country."
Pelayo said his interest in drawing began at the age of 3 when he was first encouraged at home by his parents, who supplied him with needed materials like drawing pads, pencils and erasers to keep him entertained.
"When I was 9 we went to live in Mexico, and since I didn't know anyone there I spent my time at home drawing," the artist recalled.
From his roots in the land of the mariachi he grew up admiring stars of Mexican wrestling like the Blue Demon, who inspired him to draw one of the pictures in his "La Lucha" (The Fight) collection, as well as other icons of Mexican art like Frida Kahlo.
"I began learning about art and then gravitated to the art of photorealism rendered in pencil drawings," Pelayo recalls of his return to the United States at age 16.
"When I saw that kind of art I said oh, that's what I want to do, and began to draw portraits and gradually began to put together my portfolio and show my works in galleries and museums," he said.
After finishing high school, he was hired by Disney as a painter and inker thanks to his extraordinary talent for drawing.
James Panozzo, executive director of LAUNCH LA, told Efe that "I was really impressed by the realism of his hand-drawn pictures when I saw his work in another gallery."
"So I invited him to exhibit his work in LAUNCH, where our visitors totally didn't know what to make of it," Panozzo said.