José Alvarado is a second generation born in the United States from an immigrant family of Guatemala and El Salvador. He was born in Santa Monica, California and moved to Kansas at a young age. There he received his BFA in Painting and Drawing from Wichita State University and his MFA at the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art.


The sublime, a gap, to transcend, infinite, presence, stillness, peripheral, dislocation, sensation, formless, embodiment, a drift are terms I use to scratch the surface toward my journey of contemplating who am I in relation to this vast landscape of the internal and external. The paintings neither locate themselves here nor there, wanderers in their own existence, stretching, colliding, dissolving, reflecting, gazing… an absence of breath with eyelids wide open.

Layers of pixelated memories like sand in the ocean tide, a solitary walk, candle light through an empty beer glass whose residue shimmers at the rim… temptation of a drop. Frozen snow of winter, smoke of lungs, cracked blades of grass, melody to the ear, cold to the lips, to fall – to rise as a bird in the coming of spring.

To ponder in symmetry, unfolding a bridge of reflection, into the dimension of magnitude, penetrating the edge of our lens. To wake up, to be still.

Motion, to drive, anticipation of the horizon. In search of the line of the divine. To be seduced in beauty, to transcend into an echo of desire.

Transformation in a cup.

A drift toward the infinity, a fog, the familiar, the unknown. The passing of a gesture, plastic membrane, chipped paint on rusted metal, spotlights on the surface, brushed water in a windy day. The galloping sound of fallen leaves in autumn.

A dance for the wind, a symphony for the heart.

Poetic they stand firm, vibrant in color, bridging the gap toward an event, to experience, to suggest a state of presence, to meditate.


I know not the resolution of the painting beforehand and instead meditate in the rhythm of the journey. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.”

To hike one's thoughts toward a state of solitude. To be embodied, to be dissolved in formlessness. To enter dislocation, to be free of thought, to ponder.

The beating drum of contemplation. Bittersweet residue.

Summer heat, Kansas

Elevation gain, Albuquerque

The golden yellow of sunflowers, Baltimore

The hum of circulating rubber

Salty gaze, tired eyes

Fatigue of distance

The white butterfly of youth

Submerged veins, drought of water

A memory of ocean tide at sunset

Santa Monica.

I am interested in how sensation travel through the framework of our perception to a state of boundlessness. A location where our mind is forced into a near transcendent sphere where logic and reason of an experience no longer take center stage, but rather the mind rises into a higher form of consciousness of the unknown. This embodying sensation is in lineage with the experience of the sublime. The psychological gap that is created in light of such occurrence I view to contain an order and chaotic nature. As a painter I drive the medium toward the rim of formlessness to provide a possible bridge into the essence of the sublime.

My fascination toward understanding the components of sensation were drawn by my upbringing in the Midwest. That is where the vast landscape provided an avenue to explore the relationship between scale and the magnitude of an experience. I view the physical world like a construct. The placement of streets, sidewalks and buildings create a kind of order for humans; however, they also act against the perpetuation of nature and limit our understanding of physical exploration. This type of tension is all around us—say for example, weeds protruding out of a cracked sidewalk. Our environment is a reflection on how our consciousness constructs its own reality, but our feeble attempts at repressing nature’s design can result in tension. I find this tension beautiful and ripe for exploration which influences the pictorial nature of the work to allude sensations of dislocation, stillness, and transformation.