You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
The humble life of artist Carlos Rios
Carlos Rios in the U.S. Army during World War II
Rainy Days and Starry NightsFebruary 26, 2014 5,179 views 4 comments
Carlos Rios is an artist who lives in Floresville. When I say artist, I mean he is a really great artist!
Carlos is 91 years old, and has been painting with oil, acrylic, pastel, and also carving and engraving since coming home from the Army after World War II in 1946.
Carlos was born in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, in 1922. He was one of 10 kids. His father owned a ranch. They left Mexico in 1928 when Carlos was 6 years old and came by train to San Antonio, where his uncle met them at the train station. They stayed at his uncle’s house for a while until they got the money for the sale of the ranch in Mexico. With that money he bought a grocery store on Leona Street. Carlos helped in the grocery store while he went to school, graduating from Tech High.
Carlos liked to draw when he was a child, copying cartoon characters in the funny papers from the San Antonio Light. He joined the U.S. Army when World War II started. He was in the Normandy Invasion, and spent three years in Europe, first going to England for a year of training.
Marian Koogler McNay was an artist who inherited her father’s fortune and built a beautiful estate in San Antonio on Broadway called Sunset Hills. In 1943 the San Antonio Art Institute was started at Sunset Hills in conjunction with the San Antonio Art League. In 1946 commercial art classes were added for the benefit of World War II veterans.
Carlos came home from the war and saw an ad in the newspaper about San Antonio Art Institute starting classes for veterans. He entered one of his paintings, was accepted, and went there for three years, using his G.I. Bill from 1946-49.
Carlos said Marian took him under her wing while in the school. One day she told him she was going to send him to the Chicago Art Institute to study. He was very shocked and surprised. Then she wrote him a check for $1,000 to travel there and get started. That surprised him even more.
He left San Antonio on the train for Chicago, and, on arriving, got a room and started to art school that fall. He used his G.I. Bill to go to the school. Marion always wrote him, asking how he was doing and sending him money. She didn’t write letters, she sent him telegrams, and always signed them “Mom.” Marion always treated him like a son.
When Carlos’ G.I. Bill ran out, he still managed to go to the Art Institute, taking classes and working nights in a factory.
After he graduated from the Art Institute in Chicago, he worked for a number of companies in Chicago and San Antonio. He went to work in 1968 at Handcraft Engraving in Dallas. It was there that he learned to do engraving because the owner offered to teach him the engraving machine. He worked there for 20 years, retiring to Floresville in 1988.
His boss really liked him and respected his talent, and allowed him to come in at 4 a.m. before work and then after work at night he could stay as late as he wanted, and that is when he worked on his engraving. All those years Carlos created some awesome carvings and engraving.
As I sat there and looked around and listened to Carlos talk about his love of art, I wondered why he never married. So I asked him why.
He said after he graduated from high school he went to work to help support his family. Then the war started and he was in the Army, first going to England for training for a year. He met a girl from Ireland named Pauline. She was working at a munitions plant. Although she was too young -- she was 15 and he was 20 -- the Normandy Invasion started and he went to war. Three years later the war was over and he went back to the States. He always wanted to send for her, but he didn’t have enough money. They wrote letters, but soon she told him she was going to marry someone else she met, a soldier from Canada. Maybe she gave up hope that he would send for her. They wrote each other for several years after that, but then the letters stopped. He never heard from her again.
He still paints, mostly portraits, and stays busy exercising with the equipment which fills up his living room, and listens to his music with his surround-sound speakers. Carlos is healthy and spry at 91 and takes care of himself. He walks often at Pecan Park, and one day walked 9 miles around the park. He said, “I could have walked to Poth and back!” Carlos is a celebrity and doesn’t even know it!
Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at email@example.com.
Your Opinions and Comments
April 10, 2014 4:47pm
April 10, 2014 4:36pm
Share your comment or opinion on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Adopt-a-pet at Deason’s Dec. 5 (November 25, 2015)
Bark For Life is Dec. 6 (November 25, 2015)
Beverage set (November 25, 2015)
Christmas Along the Corridor Dec. 5 (November 25, 2015)
El Rancho de Las Cabras, then and now (November 25, 2015)
Father Leopold Gala is Dec. 6 (November 25, 2015)
Get to know La Vernia at Wassail Walk (November 25, 2015)
Hear Christmas cantata (November 25, 2015)
Learn about bats at Jack’s Dec. 5 (November 25, 2015)
Take part in Dec. 5 Christmas Parade (November 25, 2015)
Three Oaks Christmas party Dec. 4 (November 25, 2015)
Tour holiday homes in Seguin (November 25, 2015)
Yulefest in Seguin Dec. 6 (November 25, 2015)
‘La Mafia’ to headline Floresville’s annual Holiday Extravaganza (November 25, 2015)
‘Little white church’ takes its place in local history (November 25, 2015)
‘Texas Family Tradition’ to perform (November 25, 2015)
And the winner is...Texas Balloon Spectacular Photo Contest Results (November 18, 2015)
Art League plans free public reception (November 18, 2015)
Chorus presents ‘Showstoppers’ Nov. 21 (November 18, 2015)
El Mesias church welcomes new pastor (November 18, 2015)
Perez visits with Catholic leaders (November 18, 2015)
See snow and lights in Cuero (November 18, 2015)
Shop Traildrivers Craft Show (November 18, 2015)
Study skins, skulls, scat at Nature Park (November 18, 2015)
Thanksgiving Feast in Sutherland Springs (November 18, 2015)
Turkey dinner in St. Hedwig (November 18, 2015)
UIW’s ‘Light the Way’ (November 18, 2015)
Wilson County Courthouse records of 1874 (November 18, 2015)
Wreath-decorating registration deadline (November 18, 2015)
‘Joy of Cooking’ (November 18, 2015)
A life pieced together in love (November 11, 2015)
Acoustic to Rock studio to open (November 11, 2015)
Advent Fest, Craft Show in Elmendorf (November 11, 2015)
Antique level (November 11, 2015)
Area residents graduate from WGU Texas (November 11, 2015)
Atascosa County Craft Show (November 11, 2015)
Comal show celebrates 17 years (November 11, 2015)
Enjoy Farm Day at Mission San Juan (November 11, 2015)
Find crafts, treasures in St. Hedwig (November 11, 2015)
Master Gardeners Rummage, Bake Sale (November 11, 2015)
Never say ‘never’ (November 11, 2015)
Register for Dec. 5 Wassail Hustle (November 11, 2015)
Register for free women’s retreat (November 11, 2015)
Talent galore planned for Nov. 14 show (November 11, 2015)
Tickets available for FISD Gatsby Gala (November 11, 2015)
Tickets on sale for museum banquet (November 11, 2015)
Tickets on sale for SA Stock Show & Rodeo concerts (November 11, 2015)
Tickets on sale now to see Grammy award winners (November 11, 2015)
Windland wins program cover design contest (November 11, 2015)
DAR honors ancestors (November 4, 2015)
East Central FFA Farmer’s Market (November 4, 2015)
Enjoy Chihuahua Trail Art Show (November 4, 2015)
Enjoy puppet show at Magik Theatre (November 4, 2015)
Get tickets now for St. Ann 50th jubilee (November 4, 2015)
Get your tickets for TLU Christmas Vespers (November 4, 2015)
Go batty in Marion Nov. 10 (November 4, 2015)
Go Nuts Contest winners (November 4, 2015)
Go nutty at Pecan Jubilee Nov. 14 (November 4, 2015)
Hear Fiddle Festival in Burton (November 4, 2015)
LVHS Theatre Arts presents ‘Almost, Maine’ (November 4, 2015)
Once a Year is here! (November 4, 2015)
See ‘King of the Wild Frontier’ (November 4, 2015)
Successful Homecoming in Panna Maria (November 4, 2015)
Tiny houses, big dreams (November 4, 2015)
VFW announces winners (November 4, 2015)
WCRSP promotes new program to superintendents (November 4, 2015)
Wildcats barbecue fund-raiser (November 4, 2015)
Wilson County’s Got Talent is Nov. 14 (November 4, 2015)
'Happy Face' mug (November 4, 2015)