Local artist sells work to fundraise for Ukraine

Abigail Muth and Abigail Muth

After serving for almost two years in the Vietnam War from 1966-1986, Enriquez came back to Seneca County and went to work full time at the Chrysler Plant in Highland Park, Michigan. Later he transferred to the Perrysburg Plant.

During this time, he decided to take some art classes at BGSU, knowing his veterans benefits would cover the costs.

“Really, I never planned to get a degree, because I didn’t plan to leave Chrysler but I wanted to take classes and learn about art,” he said. “It was kind of rough because of lack of time.”

In order to receive veterans benefits toward school, he had to be a full-time student, but he was also working full-time at Chrysler. This meant working over 40 hours a week while also taking at least 12 credit hours at a time.

“Self-discipline is probably the main factor whether you succeed or fail at anything,” Enriquez said.

He does not regret this hard work as even now he still receives great benefits after the hard work he put in at the car plant. This is what made it worth it to him, that he can now be a full-time artist and not have to worry.

“I have never regretted it, even though I was making good money and my income dropped by half, I wanted to do art,” he said.

This work ethic is what got him a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in oil painting in 1978. He also retired from Chrysler after 30 years in 1997. Enriquez then received a letter from BGSU, at the age of 50, to come back to school and get his Masters’ degree in sculpting.

After getting his Masters’ degree in 2000 he took a graduation trip to Venezuela where he received a call that he won a competitive commission to make the sculpture for the Toledo Mud Hens Fifth Third Field called “Who’s Up.” He chose to depict four children watching a baseball game from behind a large fence. 

He has since received numerous commission projects in addition to creating work for his own purposes. Some of his recent work is now showcased at local restaurant, SamB’s, including his oil painting, “Dark Skies Over Ukraine” which he said is both sentimental and moving to him.

Most of his art has a goal to either capture a universal struggle or try to raise awareness for global problems. As he is currently working to raise support for Ukraine, Enriquez is determined to get as many artists as possible to join his effort and pledge funds to the cause.

“I’m trying to start ‘Global Artists for Ukraine’ where any artist can contribute a percentage of their sales to Ukrainian support. This can be through city art organizations or any university, that is why I am calling it global,” he said. “Anyone in the world can get involved and send money to the Red Cross or any other organization they find.”

After seeing a news report by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling all artists to raise funds and donate to Ukrainian relief, Enriquez noticed that not many people feel the need to raise funds for something unless it directly affects them.

“People are putting together comics, putting art online or on Facebook. The artists are already involved, I just want to see a percentage of their sales put toward the effort, no matter what method they use,” he said.

He has no set way of creating or donating but is simply making the call to people around the world to use the funds they are inevitably making to donate to Ukrainians that need help.

“I don’t need to be involved in it, it’s just committing to contribute, it is fairly simple,” he said. “It’s just by word of mouth. I have been calling people up but there is no set of rules. If anyone has a summer festival or any university has an art sale or art show. It’s just pledging to give a percentage to support Ukraine.”

Some of his current endeavors include a commissioned sculpture of a bonsai tree featuring a lady’s hat and an oil painting depicting the last rays of light during a sunset, inspired by his time spent on the Galapagos Islands.

Enriquez currently has art for sale mainly showcased at SamB’s restaurant but can also be found by going to his website, emanuel-enriquez-art.com.