From music to painting, the singer of Side A unleashes the creative side

It is said that people who use their right hemisphere are more creative, while left hemisphere thinkers are more analytical and logical. Somewhat along this logic, artists, writers, and musicians would be right-brain thinkers, while scientists and engineers fall into the second category.

If so, then Rodel Gonzalez is certainly a right-brain thinker. A founding member of the Side A band in 1985 along with his brother Naldo Gonzalez, Joey Benin, Kelly Badon, Mar Dijon and Pido Lalimarmo, Rodale performed with the band for nearly two decades until immigrating to Hawaii in 2002.

Gonzalez was a founding member of Side A in 1985.

Even before becoming a part of the “Premier Band of the Philippines”, he was exposed to creative people, as he comes from a family of artists. Both his father and grandfather were artists and he grew up watching them work on their respective paintings. He started drawing at a young age and always thought everyone around him was artistically inclined.

“My grandfather Felix Gonzalez and my father Rick Gonzalez were prolific artists in their own right. I was exposed to art by watching them paint and started sketching when I was 6. Because I was very young, I thought Everyone can draw and it wasn’t until then that I realized how special our family was, because they were all artists..,” Rodale told the researcher. in an email interview.

He would continue to paint and sketch even as the band’s popularity grew. In 2008, six years after immigrating to the United States, he was recognized by Disney for reproducing the media giant’s iconic characters and scenes with his drybrush painting style.

“Darth Vader”, oil on canvas

That was 15 years ago, and this week — after a one-night stand with former and current members of Side A on June 1 — he’ll headline an exhibition of his works at the Sheraton Manila Hotel at Newport World Resorts on June 3. . It has since been sold at Disney theme parks, cruise lines and art galleries in Japan, North America and Europe.

When you were active on Side A, did you still focus on your art or put it aside to focus on the band?

I was introduced to the business side of art and that world in high school. Being a rebellious teenager, I wanted to make my way through music, much to my father’s dismay (laughs). He often said that I had no talent and potential, but if music was my passion, he supported it. I still sketched and drew occasionally, but my focus was music until I was 18.

“Foundling”, oil on canvas

In 2002, when I moved to Hawaii to pursue my art career again, I dove right into the support of my cousin Roy Tabora and my oldest brother Rudolf Gonzalez, who were already established artists on the island. . You could say I had come full circle and gone back to art.

You studied painting at Stow University. Tomas (UST) and a graduate of the Philippine School for Interior Design (PSID). Have you already considered leaving the band?

While at UST and PSID I was already performing with my band and would occasionally travel to Singapore and Japan to perform. It was a simultaneous venture.

“Pasta Dinner by Candlelight”, acrylic on black paper

How did you get from your job in Hawaii to this enviable job at Disney?

During my time in Hawaii, I was taken through galleries that eventually led to other galleries on the US mainland. Disney wasn’t even on the radar. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2007, James Coleman was the key to the Disney gate. James was an established Disney artist and after being on the show with him, he told me that the CEO of Disney Fine Art was a fan of my personal work and offered me a spot in 2008.

For 15 years you have held the distinction of being “the first and only Filipino artist officially licensed to paint Disney”. Are there any other Pinoy artists who want to join you?

Well, none that I know of. The Disney Fine Art Program is a very small group. We are one of only approximately 35 artists worldwide licensed to create Disney Fine Art. I am not saying that there is no talent. I’m sure there are a lot of talented Filipino artists out there, but I was offered a position in Fine Arts. I’m not quite sure how this is all going to work.

“Mufasa and Simba”, oil on canvas

Some are in-house, some are Disney exclusive. Me neither, which is why I tend to venture into other Disney-owned IP like Marvel and Lucasfilm.

How would you describe your artistic process, your painting style? Why do you think it caught Disney’s attention?

That is a good question. Since my strong point is making land and seascapes, I decided to make a background with Disney characters. In the world around the characters I felt like I could put my own spin on it. It’s less “offensive Disney”, which is what allowed collectors to love it. I feel like it sets me apart from my fellow artists because it’s not a cartoon, and of course animation was not my forte.

“Speaking Whale”, acrylic on canvas

Who is the easiest character in your Disney or Marvel repertoire? Who is the most complex?

The one in the foreground and the most recognizable is Mickey. The easiest would be Mickey too; However, before entering the Disney Fine Art family, I assumed cartoon characters would be easier. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I had to learn These are global symbols that are very recognizable. Marvel and Lucasfilm (Star Wars) were really easy because they’re live action and much more open to my interpretation. As an artist, I’m more of a realist versus an animator, so this was all new to me. Everything had to be learned.

Rodel Gonzalez’s Fine Art at Newport World Resorts’ Kolab Sheraton Manila Hotel is June 3 at 5 p.m. Curated and arranged by Kartini Asia Gallery. There will be over a hundred pieces on display and for sale, including Star Wars characters Yoda, Storm Troopers and Darth Vader; fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe such as Iron Man and Spiderman; and Disney characters like Elsa, Cinderella, and Nemo.

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