Adam Hernandez’s art will take you to another place. A land where surreal creatures meet heroic figures cast in vibrant hues. You’ll find yourself immersed in this world, which is Hernandez’s very intention. Since moving to Columbus nine years ago from the Bronx, Hernandez has expanded and refined the realm his art encompasses in the city he finds both calm and gracious.
The beginning of Hernandez’s art exhibits can be traced back to a visit to the Short North’s 83 Gallery during gallery hop. Seeing the variety of paintings, from novice to expert strokes inspired Hernandez to submit one of his own works to the gallery. Since then, he’s had a number of shows throughout the city, such as “Land of the Thunderbirds” at 934 Gallery and “Zona Alterna” at Two Truths. You’ll recognize Hernandez’s work throughout the community; in colorful murals and inspiring art workshops at elementary schools.
Hernandez and I met in a local coffee shop to talk more about his work, dreams, and experience here in Columbus. I urge you to listen to the story of his journey and revel in his infectious excitement for creating and sharing his work:
“I’m a painter originally from the Bronx, New York. I’ve lived here in Columbus for about nine years… I really fell in love with this city. I like the kind of chill atmosphere. I always describe it as a nice balance between a big city and a small town. There are always things to do you can go out, it has a nice night life a cool music scene, a cool art scene. If you just wanna chill you can drive a half mile out of the city and be lost in the wilderness. I like that balance – and it’s really affordable to live here.”
“Recently my family, we went to Puerto Rico for the first time. I had done a painting that I called The Land of Thunderbirds. It was these abandoned buildings and these vines had overtaken them… Going to Puerto Rico, seeing a lot of the island, there are places that looked exactly like the painting. I’d never been there before!”
Land of Thunderbirds
by Adam Hernandez
This is a journey to a place where time and space melt away. There are no rules. The gods and fates are not fair. This is a realm of imagination, fierce beauty, and endless unknown. You must open your heart and mind. This is a world without countries or borders. History is written in the sky. Matter is ever moving. This is a new take on the urban jungle. Giant birds nest in the ruins of once great cities. To survive here you must put away fear. This is not our land. We must fight and strive to earn our stay. This is the end and the beginning. This is the Land of Thunderbirds.
🎧 Listen (3:09)
“A place called 83 Gallery in the Short North… I walked into this place where there were 200 paintings on a wall where there were all levels of painting… I showed them samples of my work and that’s what got the ball rolling… It was like 30 bucks a month and they gave you 80 percent commission. They were all about investing in artists and maintaining a space for artists. That’s a great thing about the community in Columbus is everyone wants to see everyone else succeed.”
Getting lost in the art:
🎧 Listen (2:15)
“My grandpa was a proper oil painter. He was like me, self taught, but he was really, really technically proficient. I remember as a kid being really into coloring books and doodling or writing on the wall – and getting in trouble with my mom for that. I would draw in my schoolbooks… I don’t know, [the art] it’s always been in me.”
“I think definitely in Puerto Rican culture in the fact if you look at Taíno and Borinquen indigenous people and hieroglyphic art they use, that’s a big influence on me. Obviously the bright colors Latino and Hispanic artists used… Culturally and being from the Bronx, the graffiti elements that I incorporate as well… I think it’s an important job for artists to create that experience for people that they feel like they can really get lost in it [the art].”
🎧 Listen (2:14)
“One time one of my managers asked me, no joke, ‘What part of Mexico is Puerto Rico in?’ People don’t know much about it here. There have been people who just assumed I’m Mexican and stuff. Now, I’ve come to terms with my own personal identity but for a while I almost felt guilty or like a bad Puerto Rican because I don’t speak Spanish. Growing up in the Bronx everyone is Boricua as f*ck and I definitely did not carry myself the way a lot of other people did. I felt a little bit of shame in that, but it doesn’t matter the things that I’m into – whether I listen to salsa music or not… The blood is still running through my veins, I need to portray it in my own way… As I get older I realize, I just need to be true to my self and embrace my knowing on the inside.”
Unless otherwise noted, all photos and text are copyrighted to Leticia Wiggins. Music for introduction & interlude by The Original Soundtrack (thanks, guys!).