Francisco Alonso, COS Instructor and Artist of the Year


Photo courtesy of Fransico Alonso.

For Francisco Alonso, an adjunct printmaking instructor at College of the Sequoias and the Visalia Arts Consortium’s 2022 Artist of the Year, everything he does is part of his identity as an artist.

“Everything that I do aligns with being an artist. So even when I’m cooking visually, the food has to look a certain way for it to appeal to the person that’s going to eat it… if I work on a car, work on a bicycle, or work on something, I always think of it as art. So my garden is the same way. All the things I had managed were visual as an artist aspect,” Alonso said.

This love of art, and its integration into his daily life, stretches back to his childhood. Alonso and his family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was two years old. Growing up in a working family of “typical immigrants,” art became an encouraged way for Alonzo to communicate with his father.

“He was always at work. Whenever he would come home, he would look at our drawings,” he said. “I have always been into art.”

Alonso’s mother was an artist as well, the stay-at-home mom drawing more when he was young. With two brothers who also drew, there was a competitive element to his early art. He appreciated this competitiveness, viewing it as a way to improve his skills.

Alonso began his collegiate education at COS, where he took his first printmaking class, further developing his passion for art. After COS, he transferred to Sonoma State University. Following finishing his undergraduate work at Sonoma State University, he continued his education and received his Master of Fine Arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan.

“That was more of a private school. So I mean, my background was excellent. I had a good printmaker,” Alonso said of his time at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

In 2013 after getting his Master of Fine Arts, Alonso began to work at COS, teaching drawing and printmaking classes. “Teaching is my favorite part of the job. Teaching is my favorite,” he said.

Alonso is the club advisor for the Printworks club at COS, which focuses on giving students information on what printmaking is and engaging in the printmaking opportunities that are provided.

To future artists, he says, “Anybody thinking about doing it must understand that it is a lot of work. But it is a lot of fun… if money is what you’re after, then go find a job that makes a lot of money. But you can make a living as an artist.”

In addition to his work at COS, Alonso is incredibly involved in the local art scene.

He is the Art Consortium’s 2022 Artist of the Year, which he attributes to the work he does with the media center and Oval Gallery. The Oval Gallery is a small art gallery located in Visalia’s Oval District that Alonso runs, which is only open for the Art Consortium’s F1rst Friday events.

As the 2022 Artist of the Year, Alonso was featured in the Taste the Arts event held on October 15 with a printmaking demonstration.

On being the 2022 Artist of the Year, he said, “it’s appreciated to hear or see that other people are watching and enjoying the work I’m putting in, which is nice. I mean, it’s nice to be recognized.”

In his interview with the Art Consortium, Alonso mentions that he has work currently being displayed in the Bay Area, participated in an art show in Berlin after he was picked as an Emerging Artist of the Year by Mercedes Benz, and an art gallery in Taiwan asked Alonso to send his work to them after he shared it on Instagram.

Even with all of these accomplishments under his belt, Alonso believes the best is yet to come.

“I had conversations earlier when I was walking in the hallway, about all the old stuff that I needed, the stuff I am making now. How excited I am about moving forward with the next projects that I will be doing because we just finished this event. So I feel like I have breathing room, and I will make the best shit I have ever made, and I do not know what that is yet,” Alonso said.

“Nevertheless, I was thinking about all the old stuff and how I can incorporate it all together now. Because I have this sort of vocabulary that I have built up over time over the years, I can bring in old images and bring in new images and combine them. Who knows if it will be terrible or good, but no, I do not think there is. I think that every piece that you make serves a purpose, leading to the next one. So while you might not like these pieces now, I learned something from them. They are as important as the stuff I am using today.”