The University of Texas at Austin
  • Paisano program celebrates 40th anniversary

    By Kathleen Mabley
    Kathleen Mabley
    Published: May 29, 2008

    One of the day’s special guests was Sr. Jose Cisneros, illustrator renowned for his historical depictions of the people and culture of the old Southwest. His Borderlands—The Heritage of the Lower Rio Grande through the Art of Jose Cisneros chronicles events in the history of the border between Texas and Mexico. For his contribution to understanding history through his art, he was honored by Pope Paul II, the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, and by then Governor George W. Bush.

    Born in 1910, Cisneros was the oldest fellow to return to the ranch. As a child, his family lost all their belongings when their home in Durango was looted during the Mexican Revolution. After many difficult years of wandering, the family settled in Juarez, Mexico. When Cisneros arrived in El Paso, Texas at fifteen years of age, he had only had four years of schooling, all of which had to be repeated. Fond of books and Spanish American History, he used the horsemen as his main subjects. And since he is color-blind, he worked in pen-and-ink and with a box of colored pencils marked so he could read their colors.

    After receiving a moving tribute, Sr. Cisneros spoke briefly of his pleasure in returning to the ranch and what his experience there meant to him. Having spent his career creating art that was commissioned by others, his fellowship in 1969 afforded him the time, place, and financial support to create the art that he wanted to create. He said that in becoming a Paisano fellow, he found the freedom to paint what he wanted to paint, and thus was born the true artist inside him.

    To read more about the 40th anniversary, please visit

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