A Major Acquisition

Smithsonian art museum adds portrait by Texas artist with Austin ties

Smithsonian art museum adds portrait by Texas artist with Austin ties

Tomás Ybarra-Frausto in an Aztlán dream by Cruz Ortiz
Cruz Ortiz's Tomás Ybarra-Frausto in an Aztlán dream has been added to the National Portrait Gallery. CruzOrtizArt/Instagram

An iconic American museum is adding one of Texas' own to its prestigious collection. On Tuesday, February 18, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian, announced it had acquired Tomás Ybarra-Frausto in an Aztlán dream by San Antonio-based Cruz Ortiz. The news was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News

The eight-foot oil painting depicts Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, a Chicano activist and former Stanford University professor, posing in front of an agave plant. 

Ortiz's piece will join thousands of other famous images at the museum, including the portraits of President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama. On Instagram, the artist said he was "incredibly humbled and honored" to learn his work would be added to the Portrait Gallery's permanent collection. 

Austin fans of Ortiz can see his work at places like The Liberty, where he created a large-scale mural in the bar's back patio. He is also the brother of Rene Ortiz, chef and co-owner of Launderette and Fresa's.

The Portrait Gallery's acquisition of Ortiz's Tomás Ybarra-Frausto in an Aztlán dream seems a fitting end to the artist's time in San Antonio. Earlier this month, news broke that Ortiz and his wife, Olivia Flores Ortiz, another fixture of the San Antonio art scene, are moving their family to Houston. The pair detailed the decision to return to Ortiz's hometown in an interview with the Express-News, citing family interests and the desire to be in a bigger art market.