Skip to content


Candida Alvarez - Artists - GAVLAK

b. 1955, Brooklyn, New York
Lives and Works in Chicago, IL

Candida Alvarez was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1955. She is an American painter and a tenured professor of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she has taught since 1998.

Candida Alvarez was born in Brooklyn to parents who had arrived from Puerto Rico two years earlier, and grew up in the Farragut Houses. Alvarez earned a BFA from Fordham University in 1977 and studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1981. She earned her MFA from Yale School of Art in 1997, and studied at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland from 2010-2012.

Alvarez is a painter known for her complex vibrantly layered combination of abstract and figurative forms rich in pop, historical and modern art references, incorporating world news and personal memories. Many of her painting employ silhouettes and bold colors, and display a fascination with the aesthetics of cartoons, kitsch, and the hand-crafted.

Alvarez's works have included sculptures, collages, abstraction, and figuration, with materials as diverse as fabric, acrylic paint, enamel, galkyd, on various supports from canvas to cotton napkins to vellum. In Mambomountain, presented from December 2, 2012 to March 24, 2013 at Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, Alvarez's brightly colored paintings offer distortions of the familiar. In Drawinggreen, presented from September 14, 2012 to October 13, 2012 at Riverside Arts Center in Chicago, Alvarez's plan with this artwork was to transform Freeark Gallery to 'directed reflection on a travel memoir'. According to the Hyde Park Art Center, in these works, "current and historic moments and identities are fused together onto the canvas, producing a hybrid state of uncharted territory." Her painting has been included at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. It was adopted by avant-garde Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo. For the past two decades, she has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In an interview published by Hyde Park Art Center, Alvarez stated, “Having run away from seemingly inadequate definitions for abstract painting, I find myself immersed in a relationship that tracks, exchanges, and shreds the world of news, front-page photography, design, and pictorial memory into a subject-less pictorial mash-up. In essence, there is no more picture; there is only painting.”

Other well-known works by Alvarez include Recollections: Works on Paper by Candida Alvarez & Vincent D. Smith presented at the Brooklyn Museum in 1979.



2010-11 Communications Media, European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland 
1995-97 MFA in Painting and Printmaking, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT 
1981 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME
1973-77 BA Studio Art/ Liberal Arts, Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York, NY 


2021        Palimpsest, GAVLAK Los Angeles, CA

2020        Estoy Bien, Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, IL

2019        DeColores, GAVLAK, Palm Beach, FL

2017        Candida Alvarez: Here, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL

2012        Mambomountain, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

2003       Paradise, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2002       I Will Always Remember You, TBA Exhibition Space, Chicago, IL

1996        Candida Alvarez: New/Now, New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT 

1993        Polyptychs, June Kelly Gallery, New York, NY

1992        Candida Alvarez Recent Paintings, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY

1991         Candida Alvarez, Paintings and Works on Paper, The Queens Museum, Flushing, NY 

1990        John Street Series, Galerie Schneiderei, Cologne, Germany

1989        Candida Alvarez Paintings and Drawings, June Kelly Gallery, New York, NY

1985        Ringside Gallery: Candida Alvarez, Exit Art, New York, NY

1983        The Hybrid Series, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT 
                Cows and Other Things, The Cayman Gallery, New York, NY 



2022        NOW IS RIGHT HERE, 13th Annual Benefit Art Auction and Party, Gallery Aferro, Newark, New Jersey
                No Existe un Mundo Poshuracan: Puerto Rian Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY
                Forecast Form: Art in the Carribean Diaspora, 1990's-Today, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
                Reimagined Landscapes, Caleron, New York, NY

2021        In the Eye of the Storm, Z33, Hasselt, Belgium 
                LatinXAmerican, DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL 
                LatinXAbstract, BRIC House, Brooklyn, NY 

2020       Drawing 2020, Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY
               Anarquia y dialéctico en el deseo, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Juan, Puerto Rico
               A Very Anxious Feeling: 20 years of Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VA
               The Long Dream, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
               Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago! Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
               Estamos Bien- LA TRIENAL 20/21, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY 
               Nasty Women, GAVLAK, Los Angeles, CA

2019        Inaugural Exhibition, GAVLAK, Los Angeles, CA

2018        Out of Easy Reach, DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL

2017        Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960’s to Today, Kemper Museum, Kansas City, MO

2003        Splat, Boom, Pow: The Influence of Cartoons in Contemporary Art, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX

2000        Words-Objects-Acts, Museum of the City of Skopje, Macedonia

1999        Choice 99, Exit Art, New York, NY

1995        Artists Talk Back: Visual Conversations with El Museo, Reaffirming Spirituality, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY 

1991        Third International Biennial of Painting, Cuenca, Ecuador

1990        Working on Paper: Contemporary American Drawing, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA 

1989        The Blues Aesthetic, The Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, DC

1988         Autobiography, In Her Own Image, Intar Gallery, New York, NY 

1987         Masters and Pupils: The Education of the Black Artist in New York, The Jamaica Arts Center, Queens, NY 

1986        New Visions, Soho 20, New York, NY

1985        Artists-In-Residence Exhibition, The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY 
                Surplus, Exit Art, New York, NY

1983        The Re-gentrified Jungle, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

1980        International Studio and Workspace Program, P. S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY

1979        Recollections: Candida Alvarez/ Vincent Smith, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY 

1977         Confrontation, Ambiente y Espacio, El Museo Del Barrio, New York, NY 


2021        Helen Frankenthaler Award for Painting; Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York, NY 
                William Bronson Mitchell & Grace Slovet Mitchell Enhancement Fund, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL

2019        Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, New York, NY

1999        International Artists’ Studio Program, (IASPIS), Artist Residency, Stockholm, Sweden 

1998        Pilchuck Glass School, Session 5, Artist Residency, Stanwood, WA

1994        Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, New York, NY

1993        The Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Artist Residency, Andover, MA, 

1988        Mid-Atlantic-NEA Regional Fellowship, Baltimore, MD

1986        New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship, New York, NY 
                MacDowell Colony, Artist Residency, Peterborough, NH

1985        The Studio Museum in Harlem, Artist Residency, New York, NY

1980        International Studio and Workspace Program PS 1, Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY (Renamed: MOMA/ PS1) 


1998-Present         FH Sellers Professor in Painting, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL 


DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL
El Museo Del Barrio, New York, NY
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
The Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA 
The Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA
The Printmaking Workshop, New York, NY
The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
The University of Delaware, Newark, DE
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY 
The Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL
Private Collections 


2017        DCASE, City of Chicago, IL, Howlings-Soft Painting, 27ft x 200 ft, Latex ink on PVC mesh, at Riverwalk under Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 

2006        MTA, Bronx Park East Station, B is for Birds in the Bronx, Faceted glass Windscreens 

1994        Percent for Art Commission, P. S. 306, NY, What do you See? Six stained glass windows within Atrium, Bronx, NY 


2023        Candida Alvarez, Chicago Icons: The Fine Arts of Subcity, New City, February 2023
                Hanna Reiman, There is No Such Thing As A Post-Hurrican World, West View News, January, 2023
2022        Ayanna Dozier, 5 Latinx Aerists Using Abstractions to Address Precolonial Histories, Artsy, October, 2023
2021        Mac Adam, Alfred, Estamos Bien: La Trienal 20/21, The Brooklyn Rail. April, 2021
                Colón, Beatriz. At El Museo Del Barrio Triennial, Five Latinx Painters to Watch, Cultured Magazine, June, 2021
                Martinez, Nicole. 10 Latin American Artists to Watch at El Museo del Barrio’s Triennial. Artsy, May, 2021 
                Raez Falco, Constanza. Estamos Bien, Flaunt Magazine, March 2021
                Passy, Charles. El Museo del Barrio Hosts First Triennial Exhibition. The Wall Street Journal, March 2021 

2020       Leahy, Brian, Candida Alvarez at Monique Meloche Gallery, ARTFORUM May/June, 2020 /
               H. Bui, Phong, CANDIDA ALVAREZ with Phong H. Bui, The Brooklyn Rail. March, 2020 
               Candida Alvarez: Here. A Visual Reader, published by Green Lantern Press.
               Vickery, Morgan, Q & A with Candida Alvarez, Flaunt Magazine, April 2020 

2017        Susan Snodgrass, Arriving Here: Candida Alvarez, Chicago Cultural Center,
                The Seen, Issue 05, Expo Chicago.
                Jason Foumberg, Candida’s Coloring Book, Chicago Magazine 66, May 2017, No 5 pp.43- 44. 
                Lori Waxman, Candida Alvarez, Up to Try Anything, The Chicago Tribune, Arts + Entertainment, Section 4, Thursday, August 3, 2017, pg. 3.
                Chris Miller, Painting A Life In Bloom, NewCity, 7/15/2017, pp. 1-6.
                Anna Marevska, Comme des Garçons Spring 2017 Men’s Collection Features a Chicago Artist’s Print, Fashion Files, February 1, 2017. 

2012        Caroline Picard, Center Field, Art in the Middle/Mashed up and Shredded into Space, An Interview with Candida Alvarez, Jan 22, 2013, 

2005      Ruth Lopez, Going Down? SubCity Projects elevator exhibition space comes to a halt, Time Out Chicago, May 19-26, 2005, pp. 49-50. 

2003       Snodgrass, Susan, Candida Alvarez at TBA, Art in America, May 2003, p.154.

1994        Debra Bricker Balken, Art in America, Review, April 1994.

1993        Barbara A. MacAdam, Candida Alvarez, Myth, Memory and Old Lace, Art News, Feb, pp. 67- 68 

1992        Holland Cotter, Art in Review: Candida Alvarez at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York Times, Dec 18, p. C37.

1991         Patrick Pacheco, The New Faith in Painting, Art & Antiques, May 1991, pp. 61-62. 

1990        Peggy Cyphers, New York in Review: Candida Alvarez, Arts, February, p. 100. 
                Calvin Reid, Kind of Blue, Arts, February 1990, pp. 54-56.

1989        Cassandra Langer, Autobiography: In Her Own Image, Women Artists News, Vol.13, No.3, pp. 26-27.

1988        Coco Fusco, Hispanic Artists and Other Slurs, The Village Voice, August 9, p. 22. 
                Arlene Raven, Colored, The Village Voice, May 31.

1987        Michael Brenson, Art in Review: New Visions at Soho20 Gallery, New York Times, Jan 9. 

1980       Dawoud Bey, In Search of a Vision: Edward Clark and Candida Alvarez, Uptown, The NYC Mission Society.  


Back To Top