Pablo Picasso believed his work was autobiographical. “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary,” he said.
The same could be said for the work of local artist Aubrey Sanchez, a regular exhibitor at the annual Redlands Festival of Arts and other venues.
“I’ve had a rare heart condition,” she revealed.
“For 25 years I’ve lived with medications and many visits to emergency rooms. My last treatment was three years ago at UCLA. Since that visit, I am completely off of meds and I’ve had no issues with my heart. What a blessing!”
Aubrey has subsequently developed a series of what she calls “heart art.”
These are paintings that feature whimsical depictions of the human heart in unexpected ways — often tailored to reflect individual clients.
“It’s been therapeutic to heal by creating art,” she said. “Dealing with heart issues has been a huge part of my life. So that has found its way into my work. I’m also expressing my gratitude for good health.”
At about the time her heart problems subsided in 2016, Aubrey was selected as a featured artist by the Redlands Art Association.
“I called my art show ‘A Grateful Heart,’” she said. “I designated a portion of the proceeds for the American Heart Association.” “I’ve always had an interest in art and music,” Aubrey recalled.
“My grandmother was an oil painter and my grandfather gave me French horn lessons. My uncle, my sisters and my daughter are all artists. And it’s been especially rewarding to be an inspiration for my daughter. Now she’s working toward a career in art.”
Aubrey began pursuing art seriously by researching and experimenting. “I took a drawing class and a print making class at Crafton Hills College. But beyond that, I’m mostly self-taught,” she said.
“I’ve also had a wonderful mentor, Teresa Van Ornum of Redlands Accupucture. She took me under her wing and offered advice and ideas.”
Aubrey has been exhibiting locally since 2012. Much of her work includes mixed media paintings that are vibrant in color and textures. She continually experiments with various mediums, including liquid oils and acrylic sand, and she delights in creating work that covers a wide array of subject matter.
Another of her art series is titled “Deeply Rooted.” “These are pen and ink drawings,” she said. “They feature roots going into the ground while also depicting the ‘fruit’ of clients’ occupations or hobbies. They have become popular gifts for teachers, members of the armed forces and family members.”
Art has been a gratifying pursuit for Aubrey. “The most surreal experience,” she related, “is when I discover people I don’t know looking for works ‘by an artist named Sanchez.’ These are people who have begun collecting my art. What a great feeling!”
As a wife to husband Henry and mother to teenage daughter Morgan, Aubrey is understandably pressed for time to create. “When you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you make the time,” she said.
In addition, Aubrey has worked full time at Redlands Print and Design for nearly 20 years.
“I’m grateful to be there because I have access to quality machines for scanning art. And shop owners Earl Luevano and Bruce Bahler have been incredibly gracious and supportive.”
“Everything’s come full circle,” she reflected. “I once accompanied my grandmother decades ago when she displayed her work at Redlands’ ‘Art in the Park.’ And now I’m doing that. I also mentor new artists.”
Aubrey’s art has been featured in local gallery shows and juried exhibitions. In addition, her work is regularly displayed at Art on State Street as well as Art, For Heaven’s Sake, the Yucaipa Music and Art Festival, and the Red Dirt Art Festival.
She is also a member of both the Redlands and San Bernardino Art Associations as well as Yucaipa Vision Quest, where she serves on the board.
“The purpose of art,” Picasso observed, “is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
Having seen her work, I believe the art of Aubrey Sanchez does that and so much more. Her creativity comes from the heart and feeds the soul.
Wayne R. Scott is an award-winning writer, producer and director who serves as president of LifeHouse Theater, Redlands.