Federico Perez, 52, hung one of his tile murals at Mesalands Community College’s library Aug. 27, and has another mosaic displaying at Divine Connection Ministries. Seeing these two pieces is the closest most Tucumcarians will come to Perez’s work, however.
One of his smaller pieces, an intricate pattern of earth-colored and white diamond tiles behind a white dove and cross entitled “John 19: 28-30,” is on sale at Quarles Art Gallery for $1,028. Quarles co-owner Sharon Quarles said Perez’s art is worth the price.
“It is a spiritual theme. If you know your Bible verses where he has the quotes, what it’s supposed to be representing, that itself is such a spiritual high,” Quarles said. “You don’t find very much of the mosaic tile, period, in that art field. You have different paintings that reveal different spiritual art, but in this particular style, it’s so rare to find something like that.”
“To me this is like the spirit of Christ flying off the cross,” Perez said about his “John 19” piece. “My understanding of it is he’s leaving the cross and he’s going back home to Daddy. When that was happening I believe that the Holy Spirit was coming down and they gave each other a (high) five. That’s not in scripture, but I believe it was like giving each other a five. One of them going up and the other one coming down -- ‘Good job!’”
Perez said the piece was a labor-intensive effort and he lost count of how many hours he spent working on it. He has been working with tile since 1979 or 1980. He said he is a devout Christian and uses his art and faith to escape a dangerous and often painful past.
“I’ve been through a lot, you know,” Perez said. “I’ve been shot at. I’ve been stabbed a few times. I’ve had my share of violence and I don’t want no more. I’ve had it. I don’t want no more,” Perez said, chuckling and shaking his head.
Perez is currently attending Mesalands Community College and hopes to earn a degree either in criminal justice or social work. The El Paso, Texas native said he came to Tucumcari five years ago to be with his mother and restore a home where he wants her to live. Tough economic times have delayed the project, but he said he is making the best of his time here by going to school and creating art to sell and share.
“I know that God eventually is going to give me an opportunity, but I know I've got to finish up this house, to honor my mom. First of all to honor him, to glorify him by me finishing up all this stuff in here,” Perez said. “Once I start something, I can’t stop until I finish it.”