Artist, storyteller, and writer. Storyteller, performing in Texas, Arizona, and eastern Washington. Exhibitions: Painting collections have been exhibited throughout Texas, including at Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Nuestra Palabra de Houston, various Mexican consulates, Gallista Gallery, and The Ice House, Dallas.
Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys, Piñata Books (Houston, TX), 2004.
Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask (bilingual English/Spanish), Cinco Puntos Press (El Paso, TX), 2005.
Juan and the Chupacabras/Juan y el chupacabras, illustrated by April Ward, Piñata Books (Houston, TX), 2006.
The Legend of Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid (bilintual English/Spanish), Cinco Puntos Press (El Paso, TX), 2006.
Zulema and the Witch Owl, Piñata Books (Houston, TX), 2008.
Stories included in anthologies Penn English: Chicano Writings, Pennsylvania State Press, 2001; Aztlanahuac Project: Cantos al sexto sol, Wings Press, 2002; and Once upon a Cuento, Curbstone Press.
Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Mañana, Monitor, Milwaukee Spanish Journal, TABE, Corpus Christi Caller Times, Mesquite Review, and San Antonio Current. Illustrations included in anthologies, including Contemporary Chicana/Chicano Art: Works, Culture, and Education, University of Arizona Press.
An artist, storyteller, and writer, Xavier Garza has produced several collections of paintings that have been exhibited throughout Garza's home state of Texas. Much of Garza's art is inspired by his memories of growing up in a close-knit family in southern Texas, and he shares the stories from his childhood in picture books such as Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys, Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask, and Juan and the Chupacabras/Juan y el chupacabras.
In Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys Garza retells fifteen stories recalled from his childhood. In "The Vanishing Hitchhiker," "The Onion House," and "The Chupacabras," readers learn the ways "cucuys," or supernatural beings, invade and influence the lives of the living. The terrifying chupacabra, a wingéd creature with green skin and glowing red eyes, makes a second appearance in Juan and the Chupacabras/Juan y el chupacabras, a bilingual picture book that finds two young cousins sneaking out one night, determined to find out if their grandfather's story about his childhood battle with the sharp-toothed creature is truth or fiction. In School Library Journal, Maria Otero-Boisvert deemed Juan and the Chupacabras/Juan y el chupacabras "an excellent choice for storytime and classroom sharing," and a Kirkus Reviews writer wrote that Garza's texts "flow smoothly" and contain enough adventure "to keep younger readers involved."
Garza's self-illustrated picture book Lucha Libre: is inspired by a form of Mexican wrestling in which good
and evil battle in the form of masked wrestlers or luchadors who wear colorful costumes. Transformed into saints, Aztec heroes, or other fantastic characters, wrestlers act out the traditional heroic drama, and good (los tecnicos) always wins out against evil (los rudos). In Garza's tale, which is set in the mid-twentieth century, a boy named Carlitos realizes that, despite his mask, his favorite luchador, the popular Man in the Silver Mask, has eyes that remind the young boy of someone he knows. Praising Garza's folk-art-styled illustrations for reflecting "the rowdy spirit of the stylized sport," a Kirkus Reviews contributor predicted that Lucha Libre will appeal to "every wrestling fan under the age of ten." In School Library Journal Ann Welton wrote that the book's "fluid" text and "grainy graphic-novel-style" illustrations combine to "create an oddly compelling and sophisticated package."
Describing the inspiration for his art on the Latinalo Art Community Web site, Garza wrote: "From the flour tortillas filled with rice and beans that I ate as a boy to the songs by Pedro Infante that my grandmother sang to me as she rocked me to sleep, I paint what I know and have experienced in my life. Going to Mexican wrestling in Reynosa and having a firm belief in God while enduring the tedious rituals of being a Roman Catholic, by birth if not practice, are all elements that make up the images and inspirations for all of my work as an artist."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2005, review of Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask, p. 735; October 15, 2006, review of Juan and the Chupacabras/Juan y el chupacabras, p. 1071.
School Library Journal, October, 2005, Ann Welton, review of Lucha Libre, p. 148; October, 2006, Maria Otero-Boisvert, review of Juan and the Chupacabras/Juan y el chupacabras, p. 144.
Arte Público Press Web site,http://www.arte.uh.edu/ (November 12, 2007), "Xavier Garza."
Gallista.com,http://www.gallista.com/ (November 12, 2007), "Xavier Garza."
Latinalo Art Community Web site,http://latinoartcommunity.org/ (November 12, 2007), "Xavier Garza."