MARIA MIJARES is a contemporary realist painter working in New Jersey, known
for conceptually ‘lived-out ‘ stories relayed in ‘psychedelic precision’ and public art.
She has exhibited internationally in museum, university, corporate, and alternative galleries. A retrospective exhibition at the MORRIS MUSEUM (2013) entitled “IMMORTAL STRUCTURES: Here and There After” was followed by a solo exhibit,“Two Ships Esperando” at Galeria Siboney in Santander, Spain.
Mijares studied at New England School of Art (Boston, MA) painting at Art Students League in Woodstock, NY, and earned a BA in Fine Art from Rutgers University.
She was awarded fellowships from Puffin Foundation, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, Inc. and two from New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Mijares’ 4 large-scale porcelain enamel on steel murals, “Between Manhattan and Meadowlands” are installed at Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit System’s Bergenline Avenue Station in Union City, NJ. She will create a public art installation for NJ Transit Market Street Bus Station’s (Paterson).
Her work is in the collections of Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander, Spain, Newark Museum, Montclair Museum, Jersey City Museum, Morris Museum, Noyes Museum, Zimmerli Museum, NJ State Museum, the estate of John Cardinal O’Connor, New Brunswick City Hall.
She has lectured at museums, schools, hospitals, and caregiver support groups, and was an E.B. Osborn Fellow at the Purnell School, Gladstone, NJ in 2015.
She presented her paper, "For My Art's Sake: Facing off with Power" at the Spencer Museum Art, University of Kansas symposium, "The Politics of Artmaking: Interrogating Power/Courting Authority."
Mijares has been featured in two books—a textbook “Fearless Creating” (Dr. Eric Maisel, 1995, G.P. Putnam’s Sons and “Artists Observed” Harvey Stein, 1986, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NYC.
My work as a contemporary realist painter began with an unconscious intent to understand and hold onto personal experience. Born in NYC, I grew up back & forth between urban New Jersey and my ancestral Santander, Spain, near the Altamira caves. Pretty much lost on both sides of the Atlantic, my world was anchored by visual information and the observation of details. Compelled to narrate, I would paint a world I could live in— full of color, balance and harmony.
Writing has always informed my visual trajectory. Organizing the willy-nilly confetti of experience onto a page structures my thoughts and leads me more consciously in the direction I’m heading anyway. My conceptually lived-out stories are told in a personal style best described as “psychedelic precision.”
The themes of my work often require earning access in some way. While finding beauty in the commonplace and blight, content becomes philosophy.
Formally, I view reality as a collection of abstract shapes. Once representation is reasonably established, I look for the grace of each mark, translating realism into a compilation of poetic vignettes. I am balancing the attributes of each shape, pushing truth to the edge—just short of falling off. Rocking between accuracy and playfulness, I arrive at the ‘real’ picture.
“Maria Mijares has a forceful yet subtle mind that is unafraid of paradoxes and multiple meanings.
John Caldwell (The New York Times)
“Maria Mijares is a supreme individualist living a life of art as she alone conceives it. When she appears in one of her own paintings, it is as a stark silhouette slouched and vulnerable against the wall...But when she works it is the straight-edged, cutting silhouette of her forceful mind which haunts her work and gives it shape and meaning.”
David J. Wilson Rutgers Alumni Magazine
“Maria Mijares shows two acrylics in which the figures are black silhouettes in magically surreal venues. Dazzlingly mysterious.”
ART Matters Philadelphia, PA
“Mijares paints in a lush, sensuous mode that endows her canvases with a seductive allure.”
Ralph J. Bellantoni My Central Jersey
“Plainfield artist Maria Mijares’ two acrylics of the Pope meeting Fidel Castro, obviously done from TV images, have the largest presence in the show, provided by the electric colors and the wonderful blobby aura surrounding
Dan Bischoff (The Star-Ledger)
“Maria’s paintings of the Westinghouse building are among the best illustrations of her sensitive and spiritual storytelling. She depicts the buildings grace rather than anguish and its beauty rather than brutality.”
Dr. Zemin Zhang Newark Preservation & Landmarks
“Casting herself as an intimate observer who, in turn, is “observed in detail” the artist evokes Spain and its people in starkly realistic yet dreamlike images which contrast darkness and light, sadness and gaiety.”
The Equinox Fairleigh Dickinson University
“Maria Mijares, a New York native, lovingly bathes her “3 Women” in warm browns and reds as they kneel before the crucified Jesus dying high above them in a cathedral.”
Beth Kissinger Jersey Journal
”An acrylic by Maria Mijares of a meeting between “His Holiness and the President,” telecast on a video screen on a street corner, illustrates the way the media makes world events seem commonplace.”
Eileen Watkins The Star-Ledger
“She prides herself in being a realist, yet her paintings are softened and colored by tones and curves that give beauty to something as mundane as an auto dealership in Newark.”
“The location and participants are immediately recognizable and as real as a photograph, but are graced by a dimension deeper than film can offer.”
Bob Dylak Catholic Advocate
“I saw a rather interesting painting of the Archbishop and immediately knew it was your work. Wonderful!”
I am honored to find myself the subject of one of your paintings. Your work is truly spectacular.”
The late John Cardinal O’Connor Archbishop of New York
“I can’t wait to see the inspirations that the Lord has given you during that very memorable and historic occasion. I know that God has given you extraordinary talent. Whenever we have guests in the Cathedral, we always stop and talk about your beautiful painting which hangs right at the center of the grand stairway. Everyone marvels at the talent and the depth of feeling which it portrays.”
Theodore McCarrick former Archbishop of Washington DC
“A strong profound spirituality, marked aesthetically by a general darkening, a Baroque darkness within her hyper-realism.” (translated)
Salvador Carretero Rebés, Director
Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander, Spain
“Maria Mijares illustrates the best example of an “Hispanic-American artist, if we are obliged to use the term. Born in New York City and currently living in New Jersey, this granddaughter of Spanish immigrants paints with a desire to grasp reality in detail, as if this is the best way to define it and become a part of it.”
Expresiones Hispanas/ Coors National
“Her paintings are a photorealistic style, similar to Richard Estes, in the concern to depict all details. However, she differs in her conceptualization process in that she builds the main idea from several layered steps. She usually begins by developing a ‘living project,’ where she observes, investigates, interviews and becomes involved with the everyday life of a person or groups of people.”
The Visual Imaginary of Latina/os in New Jersey
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