By ANGIE HAFLICH
Alberto Hernandez-Martinez doesn't let his artistic abilities go to his head. The soft-spoken 17-year-old has been into art since he was 4 or 5 years old.
"I use art to convey what I think. It's a way to tell people things that I can't put into words," Hernandez-Martinez said. "I do anything. I'm into sculpting, I love painting, I love drawing,"
He said his favorite medium is drawing.
"And my favorite way to draw is using charcoal because it demands a lot of skill, and if you do it right, you can come up with some really beautiful pieces," he said.
On Friday, Hernandez-Martinez, who works part-time at the Garden City Arts Gallery under Garden City Arts Executive Director Laurie Chapman, helped set up the Hispanic and Latino artists' artwork at the gallery. Some of his pieces were featured, as well, including a drawing of Da Vinci, a drawing of Mother Teresa, and a mixed media piece called Time Overlapping, featuring a woman sitting outdoors, done in black and white, looking at a robot, done in color that is looking back at her. Hernandez-Martinez said that the woman is looking longingly at the future, while the robot is looking longingly at the past.
He split his duties between the Garden City High School Arts Club and helping Chapman with Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, on Saturday.
"I'm the vice president of the Arts Club, so I'm going to go there and help paint faces, and if Laurie needs me, she'll come grab me and I'll help out as best as I can," he said.
Chapman described Hernandez-Martinez as being creative, reliable and mature.
"He was actually recommended to me by the high school, and their comments to me were that he was incredibly dependable and very mature — those were very accurate statements in regards to him. He's a very intelligent young man and incredibly talented," Chapman said.
During the summer, Hernandez-Martinez assisted Chapman with the Artful Afternoon class at the gallery, which was available for 5- to 15-year-olds.
"Him working with the kids this summer, we can just brainstorm an idea right off the top of our head and he can jump right in and create something that the kids are just, 'Oh wow.' So, it's neat to have that type of creative energy when you're working with kids. With me, I'm just the older lady, and with Alberto, he's young and oftentimes, with our Hispanic kids, they can relate to him more than they can to me, so it's kind of a double-win on a lot of levels," Chapman said. "He's a neat kid."
Hernandez-Martinez described the class as a wonderful opportunity — one that he didn't have as a kid.
"I like that they had a place where they can have fun in a safe environment and still learn things that they won't learn in school. It's a good way to give them an opportunity, which I didn't have as a kid, which was help with my art," he said.
He said much of what he has learned about art has been self-taught, aside from the instruction and guidance he has received at GCHS the past couple of years.
His younger sister, 13-year-old Yasmin Hernandez-Martinez, is following in her brother's footsteps, but he said her talent is developing more quickly than he believes his did.
"My little sister is starting to draw, and she's getting better, and faster than I ever did. She's always watched me do it, and I guess she just wants to best me. We have our little sibling rivalry," he said, laughing.
He plans to major in art therapy and to study engineering in college.
"I love helping people, and if there's any way I can do it with art, I will do my best at it," he said.