Destiny’s Calling - Page 4

From Matisse to mid-century modern—East Bay painter Fernando Reyes wows fans with his joyous abstractions
Destiny's Calling
Striking example of Fernando's figurative work: 'Reflecting,' hand-printed paper cutouts, Japanese screen-printed paper and oil on wood panel.
Destiny's Calling
'Vogue,' hand-printed paper collage cutouts and oil.
Destiny's Calling
Ford Street Studios: where Fernando's art is created.

More destiny here—or maybe it was just innate talent. Fernando, who knew so little about art that he didn't know the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was one of the top schools, saw a flyer advertising a portfolio review.

"As soon as I got up to the front of the line and showed them my portfolio I got accepted. Just like that. I thought, 'Oh, that was easy,' " he says, laughing.

But following an art career hasn't always been that easy. Fernando and Daniel returned to the Bay Area in 1998. A year later Fernando moved into his compact studio in Oakland's then-rough but now up-and-coming Jingletown neighborhood.

 Fernando says it took time to find his own voice, and time to build a following. His work is varied, including cityscapes and landscapes, and public and private commissions. He even sells his prints through the furnishings chain Restoration Hardware.

"It took me many, many, many years to be where I am today, but it's been well worth it," he says. It's helped that Daniel has had a successful career.

Destiny still steps in—as it did September 19, 2017 with a rumble and a roar thanks to the god of earthquakes. The Mexican Museum in San Francisco had a show slotted for January—but the Central Mexico Earthquake made it impossible for the scheduled artist to appear.

Then Tony Pernicone, chief operating officer of the museum, thought of Fernando Reyes, whose work he knew. "I was suddenly in need of a show," Pernicone says, adding, "I liked the idea that here was a guy, obviously of Mexican descent, who had left the art world completely and then came back to it. We liked what he had done."

Retrospectives generally take years to plan. This one took a month. The exhibit 'An Artist's Evolution 1991-2017' showed work from all of Fernando's periods, even his childhood, and proved successful.

"I think he's a great artist. He's young," Pernicone says. "Most artists don't get this recognition until they are much older. He's achieved some good things with his art, and I think he's on his way."

Rosie Torres, who commissioned a large picture of a tree in the Oakland Hills, is saving up to buy one of Fernando's large abstractions. She's a fan of Fernando's representational art who has been won over by his new style. She also says Fernando has become an inspiration to her.

"Because Fernando [became an artist] as his dream career. He definitely has a lot of confidence. It makes me think, maybe I don't want to be a lawyer forever. I may go from law to something else in my career."

"I like his story."

Photography: Sabrina Huang, Dave Weinstein



Viewing Fernando's Art

Fernando Reyes is a member of the Mercury 20 artists cooperative in Oakland's Uptown district and frequently has exhibits there. At 475 25th Street, Oakland.

Three of his landscapes can be seen at County of Alameda Administration Building. At 1221 Oak Street, Oakland.

Work by the artist can be seen in the group exhibit 'Califas: Art of the US-Mexico Borderlands' at the Richmond Art Center. At 2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond. The exhibit closes November 16, 2018.

Also coming December 1-2, 2018: 'Winter Art Walk,' with art by Fernando, part of an open studios event in his Jingletown neighborhood of Oakland.

For more of Fernando's work, visit