Biographical / Historical
Porfirio Salinas (1910-1973) was born near Bastrop, TX. Salinas is well-known for being one of the first Mexican-American artists to be recognized for his artwork, and for being one of Lyndon B. Johnson’s favorite painters. Salinas began painting and drawing at a young age, and met English landscape painter, Robert William Wood, while working in an art supply store, after which he began working in Wood’s studio. Wood would serve as a mentor for Salinas in the early years of his career, helping him navigate aspects of landscape painting and the art business.
Salinas began painting professionally in 1930, working primarily as a painter of Texas landscapes, and began working with art dealer Dewey Bradford in 1939. By 1960, Salinas’s work was known throughout Texas, and when one of his main collectors, Lyndon B. Johnson, was elected as Vice President in 1961, his reputation as an artist grew exponentially. Johnson hung paintings by Salinas in the White House and his personal residence, and gifted one of Salinas’s paintings Mexican president Gustavo Díaz Ordaz as an official gift from the United States.
Salinas had a solo exhibition at the Witte Museum in 1962, and the book Bluebonnets and Cactus published in 1967 used his work as illustrations. His work was also published widely by the New York Graphic Society. Salinas died in 1973 and the city of Austin established Porfirio Salinas Day later that year. In 1975, Ruth Goddard published her book Porfirio Salinas. Salinas’s impressionistic landscapes can be found in locations such as the Texas Governor's residence, the Witte Museum in San Antonio, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, and at the Porfirio Salinas Art Exhibition held annually in Bastrop, TX.