Thursday, November 21, 2013

TPWD Artist Clemente Guzman Inspires Conservation with his Wildlife Paintings

With a goal of inspiring people to protect the gifts of the natural world, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Artist Clemente Guzman has worked as a long-time painter and illustrator of animals and landscapes for the magazine.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine editor Louie Bond interviews Guzman in the magazine's latest issue.

From the story:

"Clemente’s path to becoming one of the state’s premier wildlife artists had an unlikely beginning. His dad was a jack-of-all-trades cowboy who left the Korzick Ranch in Doss to raise his children in San Antonio. But work was hard to find, so each summer they left Texas to labor as pickers in various crop fields in Minnesota. The third-oldest of nine children, Clemente started picking in fifth grade. He remembers that they were lured by the promise of housing, but found none when they arrived, so the family slept out in the open in a city park near downtown. It was cold in the mornings, and three of the kids were still too young to work. Little roofed shelters were their only protection from the rain. The work shifted from sugar beets to kidney beans to peas to cucumbers, depending on the crop production cycle.

'Mom got up at 5 to cook us breakfast, and the smaller kids would bring us lunch, mostly bean tacos,' he recalls. 'Working in the field, you’re always together. My dad had a certain pace. We worked even faster so we could break off from family and go way ahead. Tall bean plants would shade us, and when no one could see us, we’d drop down and rest in the coolness, but keep watch for Dad.'

Clemente realized from an early age that his life was different from the lives of the other kids at school. He and his siblings were pulled out of school early and returned late. There was a lot of discrimination against them, but most of his brothers and sisters went to college, and all have good careers.

'I give credit to my mom and dad,' he says. 'We were poor and we didn’t have luxuries, but those things don’t matter. I had my mom and dad and my health. A lot of other people don’t have that.'

Clemente discovered his love of art at an early age; his love of wildlife began to develop during his teens. Summers in Minnesota exposed him to that state’s love of the outdoors and the reflection of that love in its renowned wildlife art. He also took notice of his father’s deep respect for the natural world.
Clemente Guzman at work.

Guzman has also illustrated books for Texas A&M University Press. Find more of his work in Hummingbirds of Texas by Clifford E. Shackelford, Madge M. Lindsay, and C. Mark Klym and Scout, the Christmas Dog by Andrew Sansom.

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