In “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” author Joseph Campbell described the hero’s journey as follows:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

Since he was very young, local artist James Wyatt Hendricks has been creating “supernatural wonders” of art drawn from the forces of nature and humankind.

Growing up on a farm, he experienced the natural cycles of life: birth, survival, sacrifice and death from a perspective most people don’t get the opportunity to experience. Hendricks believes this influenced his artistic outlook as he has moved on in his creative journey.

“Most of us don’t associate ourselves with animals, yet we are an animal … a mammal. Humans are amazing – look at the Wright Brothers; traveling to the moon; and no telling what could we do in the future,” Hendricks said.

He was selected as 2017 Artist of the Year by the San Antonio Art League & Museum (SAAL&M) and has produced a collection of paintings, sculptures and drawings that depict various aspects of the human condition and culture through a lens that combines the natural and industrial worlds.

Examples of Hendricks’ architectural metal work can be found all over San Antonio, including four steel benches at the Scobee Education Center at San Antonio College that explore themes of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, several benches at UTSA, and six on Commerce Street on San Antonio’s Eastside.

His desire to follow a creative path was not a choice, but a calling. Hendricks feels a need to create art to document the effects of this earthly existence on humans, just as the cave paintings in prehistoric times.

Artistic inspirations have ranged from dance to poetry to nature which he hopes will provoke emotions, enthusiasm and passion within the viewer. “For art to be successful,” says Hendricks, “it must affect a person emotionally, as well as challenge them intellectually.”

An appreciation of metaphorical poems that describe the human condition of finding one’s way through life led to one of Hendricks’ most imposing paintings, “The Web.” It’s based on a Walt Whitman poem, “The Noiseless, Patient Spider,” and symbolizes through images the way humans throw out webs as they try to capture the meaning of life, and end up grasping onto threads in the process.

Nature becomes the subject in his Sacred Bird sculptural series. From his venturing bird in “Northbound” to the caged bird in “Song,” Hendricks reflects on the early explorers in “Northbound” and the sacrifices one makes in life for those we love or perhaps only to survive through “Song.” And, a Mayan influence is shown in “New Life III,” a bronze and glass sculpture taken from an inspirational visit to Chichen Itza in Mexico.

Dance flows in several of his works, inspired by watching his daughter dance from an early age into adolescence. Ballet movements are fluidly captured in a lively painting, “Dancers in Motion,” and a colorful metal sculpture, “Amelia” that dances before your eyes.

One can get a glimpse of Hendricks’ artistic heroics through his “mysterious adventure” into art and the “boon” he brings to humankind when an extensive show for this Artist of the Year opens September 10, 3-5 p.m., at SAAL&M, 130 King William St. The show continues through October 22. Admission is free and open to the public.

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Peter Szarmach

Peter Szarmach is a part-time marketer and photographer. His site, offers some of the beauty around us we sometimes miss or take for granted. He's also a board member at large with...