Almost an Onderdonk: A Contemporary Interpretation of Texas Classics

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Almost an Onderdonk
© Franco Mondini-Ruiz

"Almost an Onderdonk: A Contemporary Interpretation of Texas Classics"

Franco Mondini-Ruiz joins Texas Contemporary Artists Series

SAN ANTONIO – Franco Mondini-Ruiz was a corporate lawyer compelled by some internal force to create art.
"I had an urge, like it was a tickle, that I could not control," he said. "I would come home from a busy day at the office in a Hugo Boss suit and destroy it – because I was making art out of toilet paper, out of shoe polish, out of newspaper, anything I had – because I had to create something meaningful, something beautiful, something interesting. It was a craving."
Mondini-Ruiz will be the next artist in the Texas Contemporary Artists series at the Institute of Texan Cultures, June 11 to September 2. Curated by Arturo Infante Almeida, curator for the UTSA art collection, the series focuses on the work of contemporary artists who call Texas home. Common to all of their work is the bold vision and unbridled exuberance that is the quintessence of Texan culture.
"Recipient of the 2004 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and an alumnus of the 2000 Whitney Biannual, Franco Mondini-Ruiz is an internationally renowned painter, sculptor and author of High Pink: Tex-Mex Fairy Tales," reads Almeida’s curator statement. "Exhibited in museums and exhibitions around the world, his work is an insightful amalgamation of all things high and low in cultural expression."
While Mondini-Ruiz has pushed boundaries of high- and low-art worlds with his previous works, his contribution to the Texas Contemporary Artists Series, "Almost an Onderdonk," pays tribute to early Texas landscape painters.
"Although I am a fan of San Antonio history, biography, and period painting, I never dreamed I would have a body of work inspired by early 20th century Texas bluebonnet painters," said the artist. "I am an artist better known for sticking diamond rings on doughnuts and calling it high art. However, my artistic journey and constant return to my beloved San Antonio has brought me to a place celebrating, studying and reinterpreting the lives and work of Texas’ first art stars, The Onderdonks, Arpa, Salinas, and more."
The exhibition comprises four paintings, including three of which are large-format, and a video interview with the artist, detailing his history, philosophy and approach to art.

The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit




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