Carlos G. Gómez, an internationally known artist who taught for more than 30 years at Texas Southmost College, the University of Texas at Brownsville and UT Rio Grande Valley, died of brain cancer Thursday night, university officials said. He was 64.
Marci Caltabiano-Ponce, UTRGV director of News and Internal Communications, said Mr. Gómez died of brain cancer.
“It was kind of an end of an era,” said Alejandro Macias, a lecturer in the UTRGV Visual Arts Department. “… I’m trying not to mourn about it but I rather celebrate what he’s done for us. Not only his students but all the artists in the Valley.”
Macias knew Mr. Gómez since he was an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
“Honestly, the reason why I am an instructor at the university right now is because of him,” he said. “He taught me everything I knew. Even after I finished my education he reached out to me and wondered how I was doing and he still taught me even after I graduated. Even as a colleague, he always taught me. His experience, you know, kind of transitioned over to me.”
Born in Mexico City, Mr. Gómez was raised in Brownsville. He earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Pan American University and attended Washington State University for his master’s in fine art in painting and drawing. His work, which he described as “social-abstract surrealism,” was exhibited in the United States and Australia, Nicaragua, Spain, South Korea, China, Canada, Taiwan, according to his biography on the UTB website.
“Brightly colored buildings and the surreal atmosphere of the Mexican border towns gave me the first appreciation of color, line and generalization that my chosen images would have to be bold and realistic,” his biography states.
UTRGV Photography Lecturer Patrick Fatica and Ceramics Lecturer Stephen Hawks also shared their experience working with Mr. Gómez.
“He hired me a couple of years ago,” Fatica said. “He really mentored me here and brought me here to this campus. He really mentored me, took me under his wing and taught me a lot about being a good teacher and professor at a university.”
After coming back to school in his 40s, Hawks learned how to teach at a university from Mr. Gómez.
“This was the first time I had a full-time teaching job,” Hawks said. “He kind of, like, showed me the ropes. Because it’s not, they don’t really teach you what’s it’s like teaching at a university when you’re in grad school. I had a lot to learn. … He made it simpler to understand all that. He gave me things that made me stretch. I learned a lot.”
Mr. Gómez is survived by his wife and their two children.
An on-campus vigil will take place Jan. 29, with the time and location to be announced later.
–Monica Gudiño contributed to this report.