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  1. 1. Fresno Arts Council: RICHARD SILVA PROFILE By Stephanie Gabriela Lopez Richard Silva is a venerated Fresno artist, as much loved for his works of art as he is loved for his friendliness and honesty. Silva has an artistic style that is much his own. He incorporates a variety of mixed media into his paintings, including old newspaper, torn cardboard, and even boards and scraps of wood to deliver a style that is both intentionally naïve and powerful. His works evoke a sense of urgency, as if they were painted hurriedly in an attempt to grab hold of a fleeting moment or idea. Despite the shorthand look, Silva’s works take years of dedication, as he returns to each work to revive it until his artist’s intuition tells him it is complete. Born on October 4, 1939, Silva was one of 13 children in his family. His parents were immigrants from Portugal who were highly conservative and had strong ties to land and farms, which play a big role in Silva’s paintings. At the age of 16, Silva dropped out of high school and went to work on a dairy farm. He did a number of odd jobs throughout his 20s including waxing floors, washing dishes and restrooms, and working as a janitor at different movie theaters in Fresno, to earn a living and further his dream of attending art school. By the time he was 30-years-old, Silva had saved $10,000. “I intended to go to art school. That was my intention. A lot of people thought I was crazy” Silva says. “I had something going on in my brain. I had a dream. You know, I had something I was focused on and I said ‘I’m gonna find out once and for all. I’m going to go and find out and if I fail, I fail, and I’ll come back and do something else.” In 1970, Silva moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the Academy of Art. Silva says he floundered for the first couple of weeks and became severely depressed because he felt unprepared and untalented. He was ready to pack up and go home, when his mentor and professor Joan Brown gave him hope. Silva says Brown told him that he was a “natural painter,” and those words buoyed him up. Silva finished 2 years at the Academy of Art and went on to study at the San Francisco Art Institute. After over 10 years of scraping for cash in San Francisco, Silva returned to Fresno where he eventually married and painted with fervor and dedication. Silva says he doesn’t have one particular muse but credits every moment for inspiration. “I’m alive right here, in this moment,” Silva says. “I just act out that moment and I do it. I had a couple of heart attacks a couple years ago and I almost died so if that doesn’t wake you up then nothing will.” Silva says his favorite work of art is always his next one and believes in constantly moving forward, both in life and in his work. “If I can push it an inch forward better than it was, even just that far, then it’s worth trying,” Silva says. He adds that in life you have to keep the journey going. Silva says his greatest accomplishment is “being an artist. Ultimately, I did make it after all the heartbreak.” He is most proud of having a studio on Van Ness and succeeding beyond all his expectations. “I couldn’t image this in my wildest dreams,” Silva says. When he first started art school Silva had no idea whether he was good at painting or if he had a future, not to mention if he would ever succeed. “This is unbelievable to me that I succeeded, this well.”