Local artist pursues artistic passion through study at Grossmont, Cuyamaca

Posted: April 24th, 2015 | Arts & Entertainment, Featured, Features | 2 Comments

By Michael Botello

Success is often found where passion is backed by talent. When it comes to the artwork Barbara Gonzalez creates, passion and talent make her art both memorable and bold.

Barbara Gonzalez has always had a natural talent for art.

From the tender age of 5, she started drawing for fun and soon realized that she had a knack for it. It wasn’t until she won her first art award in the first grade that she realized she really enjoyed art.

“I felt really proud in that moment,” said Gonzalez, a resident of Jamul.


Barbara Gonzalez poses with a work entitled “Sailor” (Courtesy of the artist)

Art was always just a hobby for Gonzalez, until her senior year in high school when she needed a plan for after graduation. She was originally planning on joining the Navy, believing the armed forces would satisfy her adventurous side, until her art teacher at Steele Canyon High School pulled her aside and encouraged her to consider art as a career.

With the support of her family, Gonzalez decided to take classes at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in pursuit of perfecting her artistic abilities. Not only did she graduate those schools with several art and painting degrees, she received the Dean’s Choice Award at the 2012 Cuyamaca College Spring Student Fine Art Exhibition for her hauntingly surreal piece “The Innocent.” It was there in those classrooms where she fell in love with art and the history of art.

“That’s where I knew I wanted to become an artist,” Gonzalez said.

Inspired by the colorful Kumeyaay Indian dances that Gonzalez used to watch growing up in Jamul, her current focus is to bring the rich history of Native Americans to life through her art.

“I like to portray artwork that tells stories,” Gonzalez said.

“Art is a part of me,” she said. “It’s a passion that I live for and it expresses my emotions.”

For Gonzalez, art is a way of leaving behind culture for the future generations that will live longer than the artist.

“It’s a passion for history and leaving your mark behind,” she added.

Gonzalez often draws inspiration from one of her favorite artists, Salvador Dali. A prominent Spanish surrealist in the early 20th century, Dali created works that Gonzalez describes as “creative, imaginative, and outside the box.” Gonzalez aspires to amaze people the way he did. “[His paintings] weren’t in balance, but you just felt okay with that.”

A recent work of art by Barbara Gonzalez (Courtesy of the artist)

A recent work of art by
Barbara Gonzalez (Courtesy of the artist)

State Sen. Joel Anderson was moved by Gonzalez’s story and recently invited her to his office to receive a certificate of recognition.

“Barbara’s artistic talents and academic achievements are an inspiration to art students in our community,” Anderson said. “Her passion shines through in her beautiful works of art.”

Eventually, Gonzalez would like to attend San Diego State University and major in art and psychology, with the goal of pursuing a career in art therapy. In the meantime, Gonzalez is excited to continue her study of the Native American culture in San Diego, and looks forward to learning more about art and its history.

“I don’t think I will ever know everything about art,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just my passion.”

—Michael Botello is a student at San Diego Christian College and a legislative intern who writes on behalf of Sen. Joel Anderson’s office.

Calling all local artists: Submit your artwork for a chance to be displayed in the state Capitol.

If you are an artist from Sen. Joel Anderson’s District 38, you have an opportunity to have your artwork be part of the exhibit at the Capitol in Sacramento. If selected, your artwork will be on display from May 2015 to September 2016.

Oil paintings, works on paper, weavings, wall hangings and sculpture are all acceptable media. Please try to limit the overall size to no larger than 3 feet by 5 feet as space is limited. We are looking for artwork that best represents the district. Submissions should focus on the beautiful landscapes of our district, the amazing people who make a positive impact or the exciting events in our community that are special to us.

Submit your artwork to our El Cajon office by Friday, May 8. Our office is located at 500 Fesler St., Suite 201, El Cajon. If you have any questions regarding this opportunity, feel free to call our office at 619-596–3136 or send us an email at

—Lea Park-Kim is District Communications Representative for Sen. Joel Anderson.


  1. Donna Hendrix says:

    As Barbara’s God Mother and friend, thank you for this wonderful article recognizing her incredible talent. It has been one of my greatest joys to see her hone these extraordinary talents, and to watch her grow into a bright, caring and compassionate young lady with a wonderful future ahead.

    • Michael Botello says:

      It was an honor meeting Barbara and getting to interview her. I enjoyed writing this article, and am glad that you appreciate it!

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