VELASCO GALLERY represents the work of Ricardo (Rich) Velasco. His images display the beautiful scenery and often missed places of the Napa Valley. Most of his inspiration comes by exploring hidden trails, pathways and byways of the Valley and surrounding areas.
Ricardo grew up in a migrant family and frequently traveled in and out of the Napa Valley. His dad was part of the Bracero Movement, a program that temporarily contracted laborers from Mexico to work in the United States. His family worked the plum orchards as well as walnut and almond groves that were so prevalent during that time. Ricardo’s dad was contracted to work at different work camps as a chip budder and vine grafter. In turn, the family would get housing and allowance. Eventually, his parents saved enough to buy a house in Rutherford, CA and later started a Mexican American restaurant in Oakville, CA.
NORTHERN CALIF, Napa and Sonoma: Other than a few name changes and winery transitions, Ricardo’s hometown of St. Helena hasn’t changed too much over the years. Places like Taylor’s hamburger stand and Christian Brothers winery (now CIA at Greystone) are all still there. The Turkey Farm that his dad worked at in Sonoma is still there, at least the building is. Stornetta Dairy was a favorite place for elementary school trips that Ricardo would take in his youth.
Although Ricardo’s family moved away from Napa several times, they were always called back to the Valley, where his maternal grandparents established roots in St. Helena. His grandparent also bought homes in Healdsburg, CA , where Ricardo, his momand siblings moved into. The home was an old Victorian house that was across from the main Healdsburg library. Ricardo converted one of the many rooms into an art studio and was soon happily painting. Ricardo also kept busy after high school by working at the town’s movie theater, which his uncle, the Mayor, owned.
Ricardo entered local art shows and won awards for portraying landscapes of Mt. St. Helena, where author Robert Louis Stevenson visited and wrote about. One painting of Mt. St. Helena was started at St. Helena High and finished at Healdsburg High, his family always on the move (Ricardo attended 5 different high schools!). Several of his pieces were donated to St. Helena High. Ricardo was also influenced by another author who lived nearby in the Sonoma town of Glen Ellen. That author was Jack London.
SOUTHERN CALIF: Ricardo’s dad also leased vineyards in Ontario – Southern California – it was owned by the San Antonio Winery, the oldest producing winery in Los Angeles. The vineyard had a winery store and Ricardo worked at the warehouse stocking and packaging bottles of wines. He later transferred to San Antonio’s other location in Venice, CA, which since has been converted into office spaces.
After high school, Ricardo joined the U.S. Army. He did a tour in Europe and was further inspired by paintings and cathedrals he saw in Germany, Austria and France. He was so inspired that he received permission to paint a mural located inside a chapel. The chapel was on the U.S. Army base in Kitzingen, Germany. Conveniently, this area is Germany’s largest wine-producing region, so Ricardo felt very much at home. Ricardo’s mural received considerable notoriety and was featured in the Stars and Stripes.
After his tour in Germany, he transferred to Fort Carson, in beautiful Colorado. During this time, he took classes during his off time and earned a degree in Graphic Arts. Ricardo again was inspired by the beauty of the Rockies and started painting with any free time he had. He also started getting involved with local churches and went on short missions trips as a Translator. He visited: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and El Salvador. These beautiful places served as backdrops for his work later on in his career. After being honorably discharged from active military service, Ricardo moved back to California and joined the Army Reserves. There he worked in the Graphics and Print department for PSYOPS at Los Alamitos.
Ricardo has had rich visual influences to inspire his work. But his greatest influence has always been the vines of Northern California. Thus, he now devotes the majority of his time studying and working the Napa scenery. On occasion, you will also find him working on images of Sonoma and Lake Counties.
Ricardo took fine art courses at Otis Art Institute and using his military benefits, studied Design and Photography at Biola University. He worked in pre-press and litho houses to get experience in traditional and digital printing. He then moved into Web developing, Color Labs and 3D Designs. On occasion, he combines all these mediums to produce his final works. He has recently been working with Fine Art Photo Paintings, in which he combines his photography with oil or acrylic paints to produce high quality archival prints of the Napa Valley.
Some of Ricardo’s works have been commissioned and donated to organizations in California, Arizona and Colorado. Private individuals and home designers have purchased several large pieces, adding to their collections. Art has also been donated to orphanages in Tecate, Mexico. Galleries in Los Angeles curate some of the original works.
VELASCO GALLERY is honored to display works that will bring you fond memories of Napa. VELASCO GALLERY will strive to bring you high quality, exquisite and luxurious artwork that will be appreciated. Contact the Gallery to find out about the Ricardo’s latest releases.
Exquisite Napa Valley Fine Art