For most of his life to express his thoughts and feelings, Emmy Award-winning journalist-turned-artist and gallerist Ricardo Vela picked up a camera. But when those emotions deepened, he needed something more physical: the expressive gesture of a paintbrush on canvas. On this surface, he was free to apply bold colors to represent his raw emotions. The results are pictures of another kind: abstract expressionism.

“These are paintings I have created during quarantine, isolation, or staying at home,” says Vela, a Cathedral City-based artist. “I feel as an artist my duty to express myself, my inner emotions — fear, doubts, and anguish — through my paintings. At the same time, I want to show the world the beauty of hope, and maybe this pandemic is just a well-needed pause to reflect on us, as a family and as a society.”

The nonprofit California Desert Arts Council (CDAC) recognized Vela’s new works with a $500 emergency relief grant to “keep art alive.” CDAC and La Quinta Arts Foundation established a $50,000 Keep Art Alive fund to award grants to Coachella Valley artists and arts organizations who create thoughtful, inspiring, and relevant works responding to the pandemic.

See more art by Ricardo Vela at