Am I My Body?
I've come to realize this
with other facts, realities!
There is more!
Which is why I must alter my consciousness
more and more ...
Which is why I shall, must,
resolve this recent awareness!!!
Ricardo Santana Villañueva Peñalver
(1937-1995) (Pen-yaal-vair) is the quintessential surrealistic artist of his generation. He dedicated his entire
life to art, painting, music and public service.
In the 60s and 70s his creative genius was prolific. He sold his art successfully and commissioned his work. He created posters and street flyers for musicians like Miles Davis, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Malo, Carlos & Jorge Santana, Luis Gasca and for his company; Huracan Productions.
He championed social issues, was a counselor too many and was a friend and ally to George Moscone, Mayor of San Francisco and California State Senator.
Born April 4, 1937, in San Antonio, Texas, Ricardo referred to August 11, 1979, as his 'other birthday'. His life was permanently altered on that day, after being shot and robbed while trading gold bullion in San Francisco. He was rendered a paraplegic.
Nine years after his catastrophic spinal cord injury altered his reality, the dynamic artwork of this highly visible San Francisco Bay Area artist was greatly impacted, and his work was limited in scale. By virtue of his tenacity, he taught himself to paint left-handed.
Seated Man Dancing
1988 44" x 33" oil on paper,
his post-paralysis renaissance masterpiece, with its vibrant colors and apparent movement, is an expression of the sheer joy of the human spirit and its resiliency.
As a society we've come a long way with acceptance, however in the 1980s and 90s there was little compassion or empathy for those in wheelchairs. There were no sidewalk ramps, no people in wheelchairs on television and definitely no Apps for wheelchair accessibility.
Ricardo felt like 'an outsider' and his surreal and imaginative owls are representative of how he believed the world perceived him in his wheelchair.
He began painting his quirky and colorful owls, with their distinctive and sometimes peculiar characteristics, as essential sources of humor and inspiration.
He painted, sketched and drew with color pencils on small pieces of paper, backs of lottery tickets and envelopes, advertisements and sheets of cardboard, whatever was available to quickly capture the essence of these fabulous urban owls with feet and wheels.
In 2002, the California Governor's Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons produced and distributed a calendar featuring Ricardo's Owls with PSAs airing on
KPIX-TV CBS in San Francisco
Visit The Gallery
View Urban Owls, Monks, Florals,
Cranes with Wheels and a
tribute to John Lennon
2020 Instagram #ricardosart37
2019 Affordable Fine Art Unique Gifts; RicardosArt37 Gallery Pixels.com
2018 Woolsey Wildfire – 6 major Peñalver paintings destroyed in fire; Mask, Spring Wizardry, Body of Spheres, Para Tí, Mastery and Magnificent Sphere Power
2006-2009 Owls Pals™, ancillary merchandise; including stop motion animation film
2005 Owls Pals™, Benefit Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Seattle
2004 Peñ’s Pals Soft Sculpted Owls, Toys for Tots, Bellevue
2003-2004 Peñ’s Pals Soft Sculpted Owls, More than just stuffed toys … They’reArt!
2002 Peñ’s Pals Calendar, California Governor’s Committee for Employment of DisabledPersons
2002 KPIX-TV CBS, San Francisco, Peñ’s Pals Public Service Announcements for the California Governor’s Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons
2001 ABILITY Magazine, Portrait of an Artist
2000 ABILITY Magazine, Thank You to Microsoft
2000 Christopher & Dana Reeve, Personal Communique
2000 Microsoft, Holiday Gift; Seated Man Dancing, Petite Peñalver, Limited Edition Lithograph
2000 Artemis Gallery, Seattle
2000 RicardosArt.com launched
1998 Alexa Bryson Art, LLC, Bellevue; founded to promote and celebrate the life work of Ricardo Peñalver
1995 Ricardo passes
1989 One Man Show - Alexa Bryson Gallery, San Anselmo
1979 Ricardo is robbed, shot and paralyzed. He will live the remainder of his life as a paraplegic
1979-1975 Friend and Liaison of George Moscone, Mayor of San Francisco and California State Senator
1978-1979 Interpreter, San Francisco General Hospital
1976 LULAC Foundation Opening Ceremonies, Poet, Dorinda Morales dedicates La Nina Lina en East LA - Peñalver Power to Ricardo Peñalver
1976 Artist Studio, LULAC Foundation, San Francisco
1974 PeñAlexa Studio, San Francisco, Affordable Art for the World
1974 Miles Davis Poster, Keystone Korner, San Francisco
1974 Captive Arts, Sausalito
1974 Nanny Goat Hill Gallery, San Francisco
1974 KPIX-TV CBS, Solesvida, Marcos Gutierrez, SanFrancisco
1973 Cal Tjader Posters & Handbills, San Francisco
1973 Luis Gasca & Mongo Santamaria Great American Music Hall Poster, San Francisco
1973 Jacaranda Gallery, San Francisco
1973 Captive Arts Gallery, Sausalito
1973 Huracane Productions, San Francisco
1972 Fantasy Records - Maló
1972 KEMO-TV, San Francisco
1972 Garfield Park Music Festival, Poster, Art Show, San Francisco
1972 Orphanage Club, Mural, San Francisco
1971 KRON-TV NBC, San Francisco
1971 The Chicano Moratorium, East LA
1970 Horizon Project, Treatment Director, City of New York, under the direction of
Mayor John Lindsay
1969 Discharge and Release from Superior Court of the State of California in and for County of Los Angeles
1966-1969 Synanon - Counselor
1961-1965 Vice Chairman Inmate Council, San Quentin Prison
1960-1961 San Quentin, School
1957-1959 Soledad Prison, School; Violation of Section 11500 of the Health and Safety Code; Marijuana
1953 Golden Gloves Welterweight Champion - Texas
1937 Born April 4th
RicardosArt37 was created by Alexa Bryson, the lifelong partner and companion, authoritative expert, historian and curator of the art of Ricardo Peñalver (1937-1995), the quintessential 20th Century American Surrealistic Artist.
Ms. Bryson is the eternal love of Ricardo Santana Villanueva Peñalver. Having met this brilliant artist as an 18 year old ingenue in April 1974, she faithfully dedicated herself to his creative genius throughout his lifetime and for more than a quarter of a century since Peñalver’s passing in 1995.
Alexa began her relationship with Ricardo in May 1974. On many occasions she modeled for his paintings. She fell in love with Ricardo and his work. Alexa has always been driven and she soon began working as Ricardo’s Agent. In 1975, she secured the commission to produce a custom painting for a major telecommunications company entitled Communication Plant (1975). The two of them continued to move his art forward at every opportunity. In 1976, they opened their art studio in the LULAC Building on Folsom Street in San Francisco. It was there that Alexa and Ricardo established PeñAlexa Studio and the dream of Affordable Art for the World. Their dream relied on Peñalver's ability to create a prodigious volume of art and they both worked at their dream diligently.
However, their relationship was altered forever when tragedy befell Ricardo in the summer of 1979. While trading gold bullion in San Francisco on August 11, with the sole purpose of using the money to allow him to ‘sit and paint', the strong physically active spirit who loved to paint and dance was shot, robbed and rendered a paraplegic. He was wheelchair bound for the last 16 years of his life. Paralyzed from the waist down and losing the use of his right hand and training himself to paint left handed, in his prime at age 42, was a devastating catastrophe. It took several years of arduously painful and difficult rehabilitation before Ricardo could regain the artistic mastery he had honed since childhood. Alexa was there for all of those challenges encouraging and caring for her cherished companion buoying his confidence and strengthening his resolve.
In 1984, Ms. Bryson attended CCAC’s Gallery Management Program. Alexa received accolades for her design and her curating talents. She would begin working at several of the finest art galleries and auction houses in San Francisco mastering her skills in design and the selling of art. She continually presented Peñalver’s artwork for sale. During those first 10 years of Ricardo’s paralysis his art was not accepted. Being in a wheelchair was an ‘unpleasant experience’ for many in the 80s, a time before the disabled community had been respectfully integrated into our society. The art world was not ready for the brilliance of his art and his documented transition from walking to wheels.
Alexa continually supported her dearest companion encouraging him when he was discouraged, reminding him that he had dedicated himself to art and he needed to continue to paint like many of the masters before him; e.g., Vincent Van Gogh. It has always been her mission to present his brilliant art to the world. “One day the art world will recognize your art.” Determined to showcase Ricardo, she established Alexa Bryson Art Gallery in 1989 and celebrated his art with a one man show entitled; 10 Years Later debuting Seated Man Dancing.
Since his passing, Ms. Bryson has continued to champion Ricardo’s Art and has established meaningful relationships with her community, charitable organizations, corporations, governmental agencies and private collectors.
In 2000, she formed Alexa Bryson Art, LLC and the first web site for Peñalver was launched. That same year, Peñalver’s masterpiece, Seated Man Dancing gained international exposure when it was selected by Microsoft’s Accessible Technology Group to commemorate the 10th anniversary of ADA, President Clinton’s Digital Divide announcement in Flint, Michigan and the 25th anniversary of IDEA, because he had prevailed, as an artist over his disability. Seated Man Dancing was licensed and produced as a Petite Peñalver Limited Edition Lithograph holiday gift and circulated worldwide.
One of the Petite Peñalver’s was sent to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Alexa was contacted by Dana and Christopher Reeve who had received this treasured gift from Microsoft. They expressed an affinity for Seated Man Dancing and how it touched and moved them on a visceral level.
Ironically, Ricardo had shared with Alexa mere months before his passing that he wanted to call Christopher after the accident that rendered him a quadriplegic. He wanted to reassure Christopher that life exists after paralysis and he could still make positive contributions.
Unfortunately, Ricardo passed away before any contact was made. However, amazingly 5 years after Peñalver’s passing, his renaissance painting Seated Man Dancing which is so much more powerful than a phone call was presented to Christopher Reeve via his foundation, by Microsoft!
Momentum for Ricardo’s Art continued to expand with the release of the California Governor’s Committee Peñ’s Pals 2002 Promotional Calendar featuring Ricardo's owls. The calendar was promoted on CBS-KPIX-TV with Public Service Announcements. His unique and unusual owls became the inspiration for Peñ’s Pals Soft Sculpted Owls; More than just stuffed toys...They're Art. Relationships were established with Children’s Hospital in Seattle and Owl Pals™ in Bellevue, Washington and promoting Peñalver’s art in various forms of merchandise and media.
Ms. Bryson has spent the last several years curating and expanding the collection acquiring early paintings by Ricardo. She has focused her energy photographing, preserving his body of work and writing his story. In addition, Ms. Bryson has researched Ricardo’s history, designed a new modern website and continues to develop her relationships within her community sharing the story of Ricardo and his art whenever she can.
Ms. Bryson is available to discuss the purchase of an original Penalver work of art.
Alexa is delighted to fulfill the dream of Affordable Art for the World which She and Ricardo shared in 1977 when they opened PeñAlexa Studio. Their dream is now a reality, 43 years later, with print-on-demand technology of Pixels.com.
Our collaboration with Pixels.com allows you to affordably purchase your favorite paintings, by Penalver, as reproductions and to discover his amazing art printed on apparel, home décor and lifestyle merchandise.