For Miguel Almeida, local painter and illustrator in the Treasure Valley, art has been at the core of his sense of self, almost as much as his heritage as a first-generation Mexican American. As it is, the two are deeply intertwined in Miguel’s life and work.
“My work has helped me reconnect with my roots,” Miguel says.”I’m constantly learning more about my culture and ancestors. Growing up, I rarely ever saw art that represented me in the public.”
While this intersection of inspiration remained prominent in Miguel’s mind, a degree in virtual technology and design seemed, at first, his end goal: a career in 3D modeling would provide the stability and funds to pursue his true passions on the side.
Ultimately, – and thankfully for the local art community – Miguel abandoned that direction, sloughing off the idea of cramming his passion into the few hours between work and sleep. Instead, he began to focus all of his creative energy on the work that mattered most to him, and carving out a living from it.
“I’ve been creating art since I was a child, and never seemed to lose its fun or charm the older I got,” he says. “I love creating and tapping into that creative headspace. I knew I’d regret not trying to chase that dream. It is a privilege to chase a creative career.”
In the years since the difficult decision to go freelance and dedicate himself to his art full-time, Miguel has become a well-established artist in the Treasure Valley. His work has been seen in local brands such as Lost Grove Brewing, JD’s Bodega, and Push and Pour, and – notably – on the Boise Public Library’s newest series of library cards.
These works are beautifully and meticulously designed, each offering a window into Miguel’s artistic vision of Latinx colors and elements, conveyed with a graphic, heavy-line work technique. However, what is nearest to Miguel’s heart are the pieces he creates in connection to his roots to Mexico and its people. His most recent work, a painting series outside the Linen Building titled “Essential Yet Invisible”, addresses issues that hit home, up close and personal, as a Mexican American.
“Doing work that embraces my culture or causes for my people is the most satisfying. I love creating something that the Latinx community can look at and resonate with,” Miguel says. “Living in a state that is over 90% white, we often don’t see ourselves mirrored in the arts. Anytime I get opportunities to create something to represent us, it is always a huge honor.”
How does Latinx culture, art, and climate legislation intersect? For Miguel, it’s life as he knows it. When he was brought in as our first artist for the Garden City Climate Action Artwalk, the choices he made for the mural incorporated all three ideas into a design that promotes a bright, beautiful future, one that includes himself and the community he is a part of.
“These are all very important topics to me. I feel like we are getting to that point of no return, and I believe something has to be done to protect our planet for future generations,” he says. “As an artist, the role I can play in movements like this is to help create awareness.”
From the bright color palette inspired by Mexican culture, to the choice of elements included within the design, and the clear, concise message within the mural, all work together to share a message of hope. (No spoilers! Come visit the mural in person on Friday, May 6 at our kick-off party.)
Miguel was first introduced to the Garden City Placemaking Fund through fellow Boise artist, Ashley Dreyfus. The GCPF, which provides local artists to create public-facing art in Garden City’s Live-Work-Create District, introduced him to a network of artists dedicated to bringing art to the community.
“I’ve been a big fan of all their work and it’s great to hang with them and doodle,” Miguel says. “Being a part of the GCPF means we get to pick each other’s brains and learn from one another.”
To see more of Miguel’s work, visit his instagram @miguelalmeida.art, or at his website, miguelalmeidaillustration.com. Miguel will also be collaborating with other artists in the Garden City Placemaking Fund for an additional mural. Keep an eye out for it!
Miguel’s Climate Action Art Walk mural, in process of completion this week, can be viewed at Zion Warne Studios in Garden City. On Friday, May 6, we will be hosting a big reveal of this piece and another mural by artist Lorelle Rau at Coiled Wines from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more details, visit our Facebook event!