Jerry De La Cruz is a Denver native (b. 1948) whose journey through the art world began in grade school in the ethnically rich neighborhood of North Denver. By junior high school Jerry was already known for his art by his teachers and peers and he so impressed his high school art teacher that the teacher scrounged up funding to sponsor Jerry's visit to a Kansas arts university. But in the summer of 1968, Jerry was drafted into the U.S. Army.
Returning from his three-year tour, Jerry used the GI bill to attend the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design in Denver, where he graduated cum laude in 1973. He then co-founded
'Art in Action', Denver's first (and now oldest) art 'incubator', a large building filled with inexpensive art studios located across from the State Capitol. This building would house Jerry's own studio for the next 27 years.
The mid-seventies found Jerry in the world of traditional figurative art. He was as often in Santa Fe and Taos as Denver, maintaining successful relationships with various galleries in the region. In 1976 and again in 1977, Jerry was awarded back-to-back artist-in-residency grants from the Colorado Arts Council and with these residencies explored the new world of large-scale abstract and color-field paintings. By the early eighties, Jerry's gallery associations had changed and his collector base broadened to include the corporate world. But Jerry again found his creative juices bubbling and began integrating his earliest taste for the surreal with his new techniques and methods. Between 1979 and 1989, Jerry created a series of several dozen large surreal paintings which truly defined and established the basis for his artistic vision. Many have been featured in books, magazines and some prestigious touring and museum exhibits.
In 1987, Jerry was invited to teach at the newly established Art Students League of Denver and over the next 15 years remained a vital player in its success, eventually sitting on the board and acting as faculty liaison. In 1989, Jerry agreed to take on the only Spanish-language radio station in southern Colorado until the bankruptcy trustee could find a buyer. Jerry ended up buying the station and moving to Pueblo to run it. For the next eight years Jerry commuted weekly to Denver, where he maintained his studio, participated in various exhibitions, helped out at the League and taught a very serious group of students who came to be known as
'Jerry’s Kids'. Meantime in Pueblo, he brought his artistic skills as well as his earlier military electronics training to bear in running the station which twice received an NAB Marconi nomination as Best Spanish-language station of the year. Over those eight years, the world of broadcasting moved from DJs spinning vinyl to computer programs transmitting from digitized files. Jerry experienced the digital revolution from the front line and returned to Denver in 1997 (having sold the station), eager to bring his art into the digital era. Upon his return, he was awarded a prestigious Painting Fellowship from Colorado's state arts council (the last awarded).
Since 1997, Jerry has been exploring digital manipulation of his
photo and art images which have been exhibited and published
internationally. He has also been working on several series projects, most
notably his 'relicarios', assemblages from objects found on thrift store knick-knack shelves. In 2006, works of Jerry's were at one time on display in three unrelated Denver art museum exhibits – a large surreal painting at the Denver Art Museum, a relicario assemblage at the Mizel Museum and some large digital photography works at El Museo de las Americas. In 2007, the Denver Art Museum approached Jerry and commissioned him to create a large digital mosaic assemblage commemorating the new Libeskind Building (currently on loan to the Western History Collection at the main Denver Library).
Jerry currently works out of his studio in the Santa Fe District of Denver (originally a saloon from the late 1800's) and, in winters, out of his studio in the Wynwood District of Miami.
"There are those in the art world who believe that an artist should devote him or herself to developing a single voice in their work. But, to me, in this bigger, broader and more complicated world, I’d rather experience it as a multi-linguist." So sums up Jerry De La Cruz.
Young's Fine Art