Salinas, Porfirio - Originals

Porfirio Salinas was born in Bastrop, Texas on November 6, 1910. He lived most of his life in San Antonio, Texas where he died on April 18, 1973.

Salinas attended the public schools of San Antonio for three years but did not receive a formal art education. Largely self-taught, he attributes part of his art education to being able to watch Spanish painter José Arpa who was the director of the San Antonio Art School. He would follow Arpa around watching him sketch in the streets and fields of San Antonio.

He also worked with American landscape painter Robert Wood, who paid him five dollars a picture to paint in bluebonnets on his canvases because "he hated to paint bluebonnets."

Porfirio Salinas was conscripted and served in the United States Army from 1943, to 1945. He was stationed in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he painted murals for the officers' lounge and other special assignments for Colonel Telesphor Gottchalk, reception center commander. He was allowed to live at home, where he continued his easel painting for the entire duration of his tour of duty.

Like many traditional painters during this period, Salinas and his Southwestern paintings generally went unnoticed by the galleries, museums, art critics and art historians. However, he established himself as one of Texas’ most popular painters with a following of individual Texas collectors and the states political leaders like Governor John Connelly. His most important fan was President Lyndon Johnson, who began to collect his work in the 1940s. President Johnson’s collection of Salinas’s paintings hanging in the White House and on his Texas ranch would help him gain recognition beyond the borders of Texas. As a state present, President Johnson gave a Salinas painting to the President of Mexico. A painting of the hill country intended as a gift for President Kennedy was retained by Salinas, as was the allegorical painting after Kennedy’s death, a lone horse against ominous clouds.

His national popularity would allow him to command higher prices then he could ever have imagined. The capitol city of Austin, Texas celebrated Porfirio Salinas Day in 1973 to honor him for having "done much to bring the culture of Mexico and Texas closer together with his paintings."

Salinas restricted his subjects to the Southwest and its bluebonnets, prickly cactus, rugged landscapes, sunny villages and bull fights. He didn’t title his paintings because as he said, “They are whatever they say to the viewer.”

Sangre De Cristo Arts Center, Pueblo, Colorado
R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport
Louisiana Pan-Handle Plains Historical Museum
Texas Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas