Joe has devoted his art career to depicting the life and times of the fur trade era. His interest in this period of history was kindled more than 50 years ago when he first read Guthries' classic novel, The Big Sky.
"Today I have over 400 books – perhaps 6 which are novels with the rest being journals and historical texts. The journals are remarkable. They place you in the time and at the moment. You can't get closer to it than that."
Growing up in Colorado has added to Joe's appreciation and knowledge of the territory that the mountain men worked and traversed. He has traveled the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to Canada gathering printed material, photo reference and committing to memory the beauty, the light and the vastness of it all.
In their relentless quest for profitable fur, American trappers explored new territories and blazed trails throughout the Rocky Mountains. But tantalizing reports of plentiful beaver further west, lured expeditions to the promising hunting grounds of California. By the mid 1820's, groups of mountain men were entering the Mexican province of California, both legally and illegally.
In this painting, They Touched the Pacific, a brigade of American trappers from the Rocky Mountains reach the shores of the Pacific near Monterey, California. The have traveled across an uncharted and inhospitable desert. With little regard for Mexican authority, they will trap, trade and partake of the rich bounty of California.
Joe Velázquez' fascination with the emergence of our nation has led him to the exploration of the many stories that occurred during this time in history. His focus is primarily on the fur trade era of 1800-1840 encompassing the Mountain Men, Voyageurs and the northern Native American cultures. He is diligent with the historical accuracy of the accouterments used in depicting the stories of this period in time while portraying the passion and tenacious spirits of the characters who traveled those trails.
As an avid student of history, Joe spends many hours of research in the design of each painting. His library is extensive. His consultants are acclaimed experts in their various fields of historical focus. Joe travels to various historical sites to explore the life style of the people whose story he will ultimately tell. He has established close relationships with many re-enactors who relive, with passion, a period in bygone years that is known only in history books or loosely depicted in docudramas.
Joe's creative passion is the exploration of the human spirit. His personal challenge begins as he envisions the role light, shadow and shade will play in the accurate depiction of the scene emerging from his canvas. The play of light is what causes the mystery of form and shadow to become a visual feast, an emotional experience. Velázquez' use of color depends on the ambiance of the story to be told. Sometimes his color usage is very bold and brilliant. Other times it is soft and monochromatic. The emerging story dictates the palette.
Joe's paintings are more than the telling of a story. They are a reminder of the fragility of the world and its people we treasure. When a painting is complete, Velázquez judges its success by the emotion it evokes from the viewer.
Joe's original paintings range in price from $2,600 - $45,000
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