Jesse Sifuentes (b. 1954)
Houston-based ceramic artist and muralist Jesse Sifuentes was born in Kingsville, Texas in 1954, and grew up in Galveston, Texas, where he attended Ball High School. His art teacher, recognizing his exceptional talent as an artist, strongly encouraged him to pursue art beyond high school. With the support of a Moody Scholarship, Sifuentes enrolled in the prestigious art program at Texas Southern University founded by nationally renowned artist and muralist Dr. John Biggers and sculptor Carroll Simms, becoming the first person in his family to attend college. In 1974, another scholarship allowed him to travel to Mexico City where he studied the work of the great muralist Diego Rivera. In 1979, Sifuentes graduated with a BFA from Texas Southern University in Houston, TX.
Following his graduation with a B.F.A. from Texas Southern University in 1979, Sifuentes went on to receive a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Houston in 1989. He has exhibited his ceramics in numerous exhibitions, has created numerous murals, and assisted with many public art projects. In 2007, he retired from the Houston Independent School district after 27 years of service as an art teacher in the public schools. It was at this time that Sifuentes joined the Art Faculty at Texas Southern University, where he continues to work today.
An accomplished ceramist, the artist has exhibited his ceramics in numerous exhibitions, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Sifuentes has created eight murals in the city of Houston, including the commission for the large-scale mural at Fonde Recreational Center which honors the public service of President George H.W. Bush. It was given as an 80th birthday gift by the city as he has assisted with many public art projects, several of which are in his East End community.
Today, Sifuentes continues to reside in Houston and frequently participates in group exhibitions at Texas Southern University and throughout Houston, in addition to his continual projects creating murals in the community.
Biographical and Career Highlights
• 1954 Born in Kingsville, TX
• 1973 Graduated from Ball Senior High School, Galveston, TX
• 1979 Graduated from Texas Southern University, BFA, studying under Dr. John T. Biggers and Carroll Simms
• 1989 Graduated from University of Houston, MFA
• 1985-96 Taught Art at Albert Thomas Jr. High School, Houston, TX
• 1996-2007 Taught Art at Stephen F. Austin High School, Houston, TX
• 2007 Retired from teaching in Houston Independent School District
• 2007-Present Works as Art Faculty, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• Currently resides in Houston, TX
Selected Exhibitions and Awards
• 2017 Homecoming: The Seventh Biennial Art Alumni Exhibition, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 2017 On My Journey: The Legacy of John Biggers, curated by Sally Reynolds, Arts Brookfield, Houston, TX
• 2016 Art Faculty Biennial, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 2015 Homecoming: The Sixth Biennial Art Alumni Exhibition, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 2015 The 18th Citywide African American Artists Exhibition, curated by Dr. Sarah A. Trotty, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 2014 Art Faculty Biennial, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 2013 Ceramic Exhibition, Houston Museum of African-American Culture, Houston, TX
• 2013 Homecoming: The Fifth Biennial Art Alumni Exhibition, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX.
• 2012 Art Faculty Biennial, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 2011 Homecoming: The Fourth Biennial Art Alumni Exhibition, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 2009 Homecoming: The Third Biennial Art Alumni Exhibition, The University Museum, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 1990 Masters Exhibition, University of Houston, Houston, TX
• 1988 Ceramic Gallery Exhibition, University of Houston, Houston, TX
• 1988 First Annual Fiestas Patrias Art Exhibition, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 1987 Texas Southern University Alumni Exhibition, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• 1980 3 Man Art Show, Ripley House, Houston, TX
• 1978 Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, Houston, TX
• 1978 First Southwest Black Art Exhibition, The Museum of African-American Life and Culture, Bishop College Campus, Dallas, TX
• 1978 Texas Southern University Art Student & Faculty Exhibition, Galveston Arts Center on the Strand, Galveston, TX
• 1978 Texas Southern University Art Student Exhibition, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
Selected Public Murals
•2016 Smither Park Project, Houston, TX
•2014 Transport and Renewed Mural, Houston, TX
•2012 Starbucks Mural—Wayside, Houston, TX
•2009 Ripley House –“Our Family, Our Community” Mural, Houston, TX
•2008 City Hall Permit Building Murals, Houston, TX
•2006 “East End-Birthplace of Houston Mural” – 3600 Harrisburg, Houston, TX
•2004 “41 @ 80” Presidential Mural, - Fonde Recreation, Houston, TX
•2004 “View from Magnolia Mural”-75th & Avenue K, Houston, TX
•2002 “Juan Sequin Mural” – Juan Sequin Elementary School, Houston, TX
•2001 “Eastside Houston Mural” – Cash Advance Pawn Shop – Dumble St., Houston, TX
•2001 Mason Park Mural” – East End – Houston, TX
•2001 “Engrando Park Ceramic Tile Mural” – East End – Houston, TX
•1983 CETA Program Mural Project, Houston, TX
•1980s Canal Street Mural with Leo Tanguma, Houston, TX
•1980s Thomas Middle School Mural, Houston, TX
Selected Public Collections
• Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
• The City of Houston, Houston, TX
My name is Jesse Sifuentes, I am an artist living and working in Houston's East End. Born and raised on the Texas' Gulf Coast, from Kingsville to Galveston to Houston, the region has seeped into the imagery and content of my artwork. I grew up on the island of Galveston, Texas and moved to Houston for the opportunity to study under the renown muralist John Biggers and sculptor Carroll Simms, who were building an art department at Texas Southern University. Their work and dedication to art uplifted and celebrated the community and rich culture that bore them has been a lifelong inspiration to me. Following Dr. Biggers, I have aimed to create public artwork that uplifts and celebrates the communities that host the work.
I have grown up, been educated, lived, worked, and raised a family in Houston's East End. But I am also connected to this community artistically. I have contributed several public artworks to the Houston area. In each project, I consider how the work will reflect and celebrate the community that houses the work. As a public artist, I have a responsibility to create artwork that is owned by the local public. This requires knowing and understanding the community I serve as an artist. For example, some of the works I have been commissioned were in tandem with anti-graffiti programs. This presents a particular challenge in that I am tasked with creating work that is embraced by the public and engenders respect amongst the community, including those that tagged the building prior to the work going up. The public space is then embellished into something that the neighborhood can be proud of and call their own. Furthermore, this sense of community pride becomes community empowerment and inspiration.
Dr. Biggers once stated that the artist has a responsibility to the public as a “documenter” of the affairs that affect the community. There are some things that cannot be ignored and should be addressed in words, note or brush.