Manuel Andrés “Andy” Soto has had a lifelong fascination with art. He has also had a deep appreciation for his Tejano roots in South Texas.
He chose his love for art to express to his son his love for his cultural roots as a Tejano son of the soil. Soto was raised in Edroy, Texas and went on to earn a PhD in Coastal Sciences from the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi and is now an Associate Professor of Biological and Health Sciences at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
This book is about his art, his family, and his culture. Soto uses mainly acrylic paints and pine or cedar planks to create his impressionistic folk art. His subject matter focuses on various aspects of Tejano culture. His inspiration is his childhood growing up in Edroy, which was no more than a colonia. Many colonias are located on the border with Mexico, although they can and are found in many other counties throughout South Texas.
While Soto’s neighborhood may have been lacking in amenities, his home provided a solid foundation. Like most of their neighbors, they did not have financial riches, but their immediate and extended family and neighbors more than made up for the lack of money. They had a roof over their heads, warm clothing, plenty to eat, and most of all a never ending source of love. Soto has returned to his rural roots, although in many ways he had never left them.
With the publication of this book, the rest of the world can indeed enjoy Soto’s extraordinary gift. Those who grew up in South Texas in the 1940s through 1960s, whether in a colonia or in a small town or out in the country will quickly relate to his art and the short vignettes that accompany each piece. Who can forget their outhouse? Or going to the pizcas atop of the neighbor’s large troca. Or eating sandia on the porch and spitting out the seeds. Or taking your asadon to go to the desahije. Or getting some queso del condado. So many memories, so much joy.
Fortunately, everyone can now partake of this joy. With the publication of his first book, Soto has generously provided us with reproductions of his paintings that will bring back a rush of memories to his readers. You will have something you can sit down in your recliner to show you grandchildren and tell them about their ancestors and how they lived, or take outside to your patio and enjoy it with your own sons and daughters while you have something en las brasas, or take it to the ranch to share with your aging parents.
And if one or more of the paintings strikes your fancy, you can order a print from the artist at rockinsart.com. Truly, Andy Soto has captured not only history but personal memories shared by a wide range of people with Tejano roots. It is yet another important addition to your Tejano book library to preserve our South Texas history and culture.