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Obed Gómez Art Is A Work In Progress
By Kate Santich
October 20, 2002
(MATT STROSHANE/FOR THE SENTINEL)
When Obed Gómez was still a baby in Puerto Rico, his grandmother watched him lying in his crib and pronounced: "This child will become a man who works with his hands."
The boy seemed mesmerized by the movement and shape of his fingers to a degree unusual even for infants. Sure enough, by the time he was 3, he began drawing with such amazing skill that others began to predict, too.
This child would become an artist, they said.
But even those with precocious talent do not necessarily march a straight path in life. Obed Gómez would need three decades, a move to Orlando, a spiritual awakening and the love and support of his wife, Sarah Lloyd-Gómez, to fulfill the prophecy.
"Everything comes at the precise moment it should," the 35-year-old Gómez says, "but it may be when you least expect it."
If his name is not yet familiar to you, his artwork might well be. It has graced the cover of the Puerto Rican Professional and Business Leaders (PROFESA) Guide, the brochure for Orlando's Puerto Rican Parade and the cover of O! Arts Magazine. It has been in exhibits at SeaWorld Orlando, Epcot, the Orange County Public Library, Darden Restaurants, Lockheed-Martin and Sears.
And if you happen to have been visiting the Galería Latina in Cornwall, England, recently, you would find his paintings there, too. In fact, he is scheduled for a solo exhibit in Cornwall next year.
One critic dubbed him "the Puerto Rican Picasso," though in truth his style ranges from wildly abstract to vividly realistic, with a lot of luscious whimsy in between.
His subjects may be a swirling flamenco dancer, a brawny sugar cane worker or a mother cradling her child. His trademark is the bold hues he favors, whether in acrylic or pastel, though he also has recurring themes - Don Quixote, musicians, the Three Kings.
"I always start every painting by touching the bare canvas and asking the Lord to bless my work," he says. His unusual given name, by the way, means "servant of God." He has taken it to heart.
Though he still works a day job as a graphics designer for Strang Communications, a Christian publishing company in Lake Mary, he has been generous with his charity. He designed a web site for Give Kids the World, donated artwork to auctions raising money for disabled and troubled kids, and gave paintings to the recently-opened Hispanic wing of an Orlando retirement home.
Next month, the Puerto Rican Parade Committee of Melbourne is honoring him as a "godfather of the arts" for his philanthropy.
To make time for his artwork, Gómez often sets his alarm for the middle of the night, arising at 3 a.m. to paint for a couple of hours before he must leave for work. His studio is a spare bedroom in the south Orlando home he shares with Sarah.
"To set the alarm and get up at that hour and actually create something, you have to be in the right state of mind. It is more than just discipline. That's how I know it is God," he says.
His original works now sell for as much as $5,500 each, though he charges as little as $80 for signed, limited-edition prints. Sarah, a former communications major at the University of Puerto Rico, handles his advertising and marketing. She's also head cheerleader.
"She kept insisting that I go with her to art shows back when I wasn't painting," he says. "She told me, 'Come on, you are going to do it.' Now, I believe it is what I was meant to do all along. It is my gift."
You can see the work of Obed Gómez:
*Oct. 26 at Valencia Community College, East campus, building 5
*Nov. 2-3, at the Fiesta in the Park art show at Lake Eola
*Oct. 23-27, Nov. 6-10 and Nov. 13-17, at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival