Arts + Makers 11

Meet Talented Artists, Musicians and Makers in Our Community

The artists and makers of the Cypress community create culture through visually stunning paintings, murals and sculptures, entertaining music and plays, and all are storytellers. They not only have the significant task of creating culture in our community, but they also teach the next generation of artists and makers. These creatives are lucky to do what they love—sharing their stories through the arts—and we are lucky to have them spark our imagination. We proudly highlight several creatives in the community and hope you will seek out these artists to experience their work firsthand.

The Jewelry Maker: Ruth Pataine 

Michelle Becker creates unique treasures under the moniker Ruth Pataine a tribute to several female relatives by combining their names.

Michelle began to sell jewelry for a direct sales company when her daughter was 2 years old. When the company shut their doors a few years ago, she immediately started creating her own designs.

“It was finally my chance to unveil what I think unique jewelry should look like, which in my opinion, incorporates mixing metals, stones and/or gems. I want my jewelry to be wearable art,” Michelle says.

One of Michelle’s favorite pieces to create are pendants. Traditional pendants are worn close to the heart, so they should be meaningful. Whether women wear a heart, arrow, angel wing, geometric shape or object, it’s the one piece that will undoubtedly be noticed and commented on. When asked what advice she has for someone pursuing visual art as their career, Michelle says, “Absolutely go for it! There are so many training opportunities for any level of artisan in many parts of the country.”

“I want my jewelry to be wearable art.” –Ruth Pataine

 The Eco-Artist: Grant Manier 

Grant Manier is an eco-artist living with autism in his early 20s. Eco-art is an art form that uses recycled materials. Grant uses different types of paper such as wallpaper, calendars, posters, business cards, puzzles and more to create eco-art masterpieces. He became an artist when he was instructed to practice art therapy to manage his special needs. The experience of creating art helped soothe his anxieties and redirected his behavior toward a positive outcome: becoming a true artist! Grant fondly calls his art “Coolages” because “I use cool colors, cool shapes and cool textures.”

When Grant was 15 years old, he won the 2011 Austin Rodeo Grand Champion for eco-art. After hearing about him, teachers started following him on his website and asked if he could teach their students eco-art. He has since taught numerous classes. Grant loves teaching because “helping others is good for your spirit and soul… it feels good.” He travels around with his art exhibit and interactive program to teach kids and adults the importance of environmental responsibility.

Several of Grant’s original works have sold, and prints are available. He has raised more than $250,000, which has benefited special needs camps and funded hearing aids, wheelchairs, equine therapy, physical therapy and scholarships for students with special needs.

Grant and his mother, Julie Coy, published a book in 2017. Julie wrote the book, and Grant contributed beautiful illustrations created from prints of his collage eco-art. The award-winning children’s book is called Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe: Different is More and tells the story of a young giraffe who is born different and follows his passion despite his challenges. The giraffe image is composed of puzzle pieces, which is also the symbol for autism. The giraffe wants to paint, but he finds it difficult to hold a paintbrush with his hooves. He learns how to overcome his challenges, embrace his differences, and becomes the great artist he longs to be.

“Helping others is good for your spirit and soul.” –Grant Manier

The Muralist: Alfredo Montenegro

Alfredo Montenegro has created murals on the walls of local restaurants and homes, a hospital and several public works. He studied graphic design at the Peruvian Advertising Institute, where he graduated at the top of his class, and originally immigrated to the U.S. to work as a professional graphic designer. Alfredo always had a love of painting and became a professional muralist in 2000 when his friend asked him to paint something on his baby’s nursery wall. From there, news spread that he was available for mural commissions, and he has been busy painting ever since.

Alfredo has studied faux finishes and trompe l’oiel techniques. In addition to learning a lot from books, he has learned a great deal from trial and error and experimenting to develop his technique. His process is quite impressive even to other expert muralists. Most muralists use advance planning, mathematics in the form of grids and projected images to create their murals. Alfredo sketches the image freehand, checks in with his client for approval, and then he brings the sketch to life with paint. He rarely uses a spray gun and paints nearly everything with a brush. He also mixes his own paint colors from primary colors.

Alfredo’s masterpieces take anywhere from days to a week to complete. When asked what advice Alfredo has to offer other artists he says: “It doesn’t matter what you want to become. Follow your passion. With passion, the rest will come easily. Never give up your dreams. This is the key to success. Don’t be afraid to dream high. Have confidence that you can reach your dreams. Have patience. Progress happens little by little.”

“Have confidence that you can reach your dreams.” –Alfredo Montenegro

The Performers: Miguel Coral and Dominque Haces 

When Cy-Ranch High School junior Miguel Coral, 16, started taking classes at the School of Rock in December 2014, he’d already been taking guitar lessons at another business for four years. He made the switch to School of Rock because he found it more engaging and exciting.

Bridgeland High School junior Dominique Haces, 16, started at the School of Rock in January 2013. She wanted to concentrate on the piano at first, but her love of music led her to play piano, violin, guitar and drums. You can now add bass, little drums, viola, ukulele, cello and saxophone to her list of instruments.

Both Miguel and Dominique also teach at the school. Miguel hopes to turn his passion into a musical career. Dominique says she will always have music in her life but plans to go to college to study psychology and then move on to law school.

The owners and staff at the Cypress School of Rock are passionate about enriching the lives of students in the community through music and performance education. Co-owners Alejandre Febra and Adam Doxey both have music backgrounds, as does general manager Josh Vasquez. Alejandre’s childhood was steeped in music because her father was a famous musician in Mexico, and she is currently working on her music degree. Both Adam and Josh have been teaching and playing professionally for many years, and each can play multiple instruments.

School of Rock students perform three times a month at the school and in the community five times a year at professional music venues. Their upcoming end-of-season shows will be held on Feb. 23 and 24.