FACES IN THE CROWD
Music and the female form are two things that greatly appeal to Humble resident Ray Gatica. And he's found a unique way to express that through art.
Gatica is an airbrush artist who spent several years in the commercial industry, airbrushing images onto cars or flames onto motorcycle tanks.
These days, he's spending less time on metal that comes attached to wheels, and more time on metal small enough to hang on your wall.
Art deco inspired
"I'm inspired by Art Deco stuff, exaggerated forms of males or females. I've also been inspired by high fashion figures. And I like the jazz feel, too."
Gatica has captured all of those things in his series of three paintings, a collection he plans to add to and exhibit sometime next year.
Light my Fire is a jazzy piece depicting a jazz musician on his knees, passionately playing a saxophone with flames shooting out of the instrument.
Texy is a high-fashion, curvaceous cowgirl juxtaposed a Texas flag, sporting a six-shooter and Texas-star badges for earrings.
Turning up the Heat features a woman in a striking orange dress with a big bejeweled bolero hat, Art Deco-style green hat, long green stylish silk gloves and soft colorful flames in the background.
Creating airbrushed metal art is time consuming. Gatica spends weeks on each piece.
Gatica said one must have a steady hand when airbrushing on small pieces of metal to avoid overspray."If not controlled, the final product appears fuzzy, out of focus, messy and amateurish, "Gatica said. "The better the control, the better the art quality."
Gatica had the chance to show his pieces last June during an art show at Willow Fork Country Club in Katy.
Fellow artist Howie Doyle, a Tomball resident who was also at the show, admires Gatica's artistic focus.
" My favorite of his works are the female figures, presented in an abstract way with strong themes in both color and content," Doyle said."
His work seems to draw upon the tradition of the pin-up girl, and the female figures that were painted on U.S. war planes during World War II, but he gives them a modern sense of style."
Leon Boeker, owner of Humble Ice at 6902 Bender Road, has heard rumblings of the "beautiful pictures of ladies."
But Boeker already knows Gatica is great with his airbrush. The store owner has been hiring Gatica for the last five or six years to paint the sides of his ice boxes
"He does it real nice," Boeker said. "It's an ice design that looks real frosty. I've had a lot of people comment, who did your work for you? Matter of fact, I've sent him a couple of customers."
Gatica still works commercially, including touching-up murals at Second Baptist Church in Houston.
But fine art on metal is what really has him fired up these days.
"I started airbrushing 15, 20 years ago," Gatica said. "Back in the old days, the old paints were enamel so you couldn't mix them that well to get the color you wanted. But now, I have paints that mix like a watercolor. I got excited again about airbrushing."
For more information on
Gatica's work, visit
• Fast Fact: Gatica is scheduled to appear on Channel 55 The Tube at 1p.m. Sept. 21 for a mural demonstration, some of which he will do in airbrush.
• Quick Quote: "I have three images that are inspired by the Art Deco period of the 1920s and'30s. I like that elegant look and feel." — Ray Gatica
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By KIM HUGHES