Jorge Tecunolmos is not a locally grown artist; in fact he’s not even a product of US soil. Born in Guatemala, Jorge travelled a long and challenging journey before claiming Parkersburg as his hometown. And he didn’t arrive to his new home empty-handed—he brought with him a unique artistic talent and a gift for transforming environments. As an abstract artist, Jorge uses acrylics and mixed media to interpret traditional subjects into new realities for communities. He has proven himself to be committed to the community and the revitalization of downtown Parkersburg; in return he has gained opportunities to display his works in public and gallery settings. His enthusiasm and efforts have also gained him membership on the ON TRAC committee that is dedicated to creating a vibrant and active downtown.
I was born in Guatemala City during the 1980s, when guerilla warfare was active in the country. I was left an orphan and adopted by an American missionary family. We lived in several countries, and at 17 I joined a Leadership Academy in Texas. After my internship and two years of college, I decided it was time to leave Texas and I lived in California, Colorado and Florida before attending college in Sydney, Australia. I moved back to the US and a home in Rhode Island, but never felt as if I belonged there. As time passed, I drifted from place to place until I made a short visit to Marietta. I did not know about Parkersburg, but I enjoyed my visit so much I made five more trips to the MOV in the next year!
One of the reasons I kept returning was the people. The following summer I made my vacation plans for the Marietta area, and never left! It may be hard to understand why an “outsider” would make a home where I had no roots, but I knew it was the right place and time for me. I was working through some unresolved issues while preparing for the next season of my life—right here in Parkersburg West Virginia. Although nervous and a bit frightened, I got my first job and immersed myself in a new culture and new city. I returned to school at WVUP and earned a Business degree.
Q: When did you first realize you were an artist ?
In the summer of 2010, a volunteer project led me to realize I had a unique gift of expression through the art of abstract painting. I was helping my church on a building project because I saw a need and wanted to participate. Without building experience, I found myself painting walls and doing cosmetic work. The final stages of construction had changes and delays, and I used the time and some leftover paint samples to paint a canvas I bought. Before that point in my life, I had never studied art or painted.
When that summer ended, I had painted 16 pieces of art for the new building. The building’s inaugural service was attended by many local officials and business representatives. The exposure resulted in my art—and my personal story – being shared among a large network of people.
Today, my works are experienced through the mediums of acrylics and mix media. In the recent years I have been able to share my works with the local community and as a member of the ON TRAC committee I seek to transform, renovate, organize, and revitalize the Downtown Parkersburg area through my art.
I’d like to say that my art reflects the many challenges and triumphs I have experienced in my personal life, as well as through my global interactions with people of various cultures. Coming to an area such as the MOV, to me as an outsider, it is nothing but a land of opportunity to create and explore.
My art is all about elevating atmospheres. I am most fulfilled when seeing my creations transform an environment into something surprisingly exciting. Inspired by nature, music, and faith, I am moved to interpret an atmosphere’s potential through primitive and modern abstract creations. I often feature common subjects in unique ways working through vibrant acrylics, various metals, wood, wire, and plastics. At a time when much abstract art is about chaos and energy, I strive to create atmospheric balance and order that is magnificent in its simplicity.
Q: You have become well known in for both your artwork and your community involvement. How have these two things worked together for you recently?
Actually pretty amazing!! As time went by I was invited to join a committee, Downtown PKB (formerly known as ON-TRAC). The committee seeks to revitalize the Downtown district and is supported by the Governor’s office; it works together with the Economic Development Office, the Area Roundtable & the Department of Commerce in the state. As I became more involved and familiar with Downtown PKB’s mission and vision, I realized theirs aligned with mine. The city officials and business people embraced me and I felt I could make a difference and have a voice. I believe this organization is worthy of my time, talents and resources.
Our first Art Exhibition was a successful evening connecting local business owners and artists. We wanted to create a culture around art; I’ve come to believe that art promotes culture, culture promotes commerce, and commerce provides a better quality of life for its citizens. We invited the community to attend the event, and it went so well we immediately began receiving calls about future events.
Since then, we have been able to host two yearly events- spring & fall. We are also committed to serving our city and we have had the opportunity to combine the Art Exhibitions & Volunteer work with emerging city projects such as the Farmers Market, the Art Walk, the Summer Series Concerts, Window Art Installations, etc.
It has been a fantastic journey, being able to share my art and my life with the community. I believe that if you put your mind to something you really care about and believe in it, you can truly make it happen. People are drawn to people who can lead and who have passion. I have felt supported by many friends, colleagues and by the city. It truly has been great!!
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in the Mid-Ohio Valley?
I like the sense of community, the hospitality & friendliness of the people. Although we don’t have all the amenities bigger cities offer, I’ve come to the realization that it is not “things” that make people happy; who you are and who you have around you is what matters. For me, I have been fortunate to have found a network of people I have learned to care about and who I believe truly care about my well-being.
Q: Do you have any exciting plans on the horizon?
Yes, we are currently working on partnerships with non-profit organizations and are also building our first online E-commerce. Individuals will be able to buy our apparel, art and accessories. We are also looking to expand to Raleigh, NC in the coming months. We are excited for the future and the opportunities to impact lives!
For more on Jorge and his amazing work, “Like” his Facebook page!