Expansive Regard: Selected Works from the Collection of Juan Sandoval

Kimberly Rene' Vanecek

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By Maggie Asfahani Hajj

Librarians are known to surround themselves with books, but a local bibliophile has found another driving passion as well.

Juan Sandoval, reference librarian and subject specialist for art and Chicano studies at UTEP, has amassed an eclectic art collection from around the world, featuring works by such noted artists as Manuel Acosta, Marta Arat, Francisco Delgado, Gaspar Enriquez, and Luis Jiménez. A small selection of these works is on display at the El Paso Museum of Art in the free exhibition An Expansive Regard: Selected Works from the Collection of Juan Sandoval, running through February 16, 2014.

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“Juan Sandoval is an active patron of the museum and visitor to the museum and an El Paso fixture,” said Patrick Cable, senior curator at the El Paso Museum of Art. “He has, over the last several decades, collected probably a couple thousand different works–paintings, sculptures, prints and some ceramics too. He has a really interesting range of works in his collection, so we thought it would be interesting to highlight a selection of those works.”

The exhibition features 25 pieces that represent the unifying theme of the collection, Cable said.

“[The exhibition] sort of does speak to his personality, and his collection does as well,” he said. “Also the idea of the human element in his work is there. It’s not necessarily the heroic figure, but the ordinary figure, which has a unique quality about them within the picture. I think that’s part of what [Sandoval] is about.”

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Maggie:  When looking for art to add to your collection, do you gravitate toward certain themes or styles?

Juan:  My art collection is extremely diverse and is a reflection of my eclectic reading habits. I didn’t start out to become an art collector. Since I always had to work, I could afford to purchase books.  Since so many of my friends were impecunious, in an effort to assist them, I purchased their art for very little. Once I realized that you didn’t have to be rich to buy original works of art, there was no stopping. Rather than buy fancy clothing and cars, I continued to buy art and as the years passed, my collecting became a little more sophisticated. I never bought art as an investment, and was surprised when my dear friend Mart Arat told me that she felt that by being represented in his collection, her memory and work as an artist would be preserved for future generations.

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Photographed by Julio Cesar Chavez