This is the first time Arreguín chose salmon as a subject. He was inspired by his friend Raymond Carver, the short-story writer and poet who had fallen ill. One day Arreguín picked him up from the hospital and Carver said, "I wish I was fishing." He gave this painting to Carver and the poet Tess Gallagher as a wedding gift.
Painting by Alfredo Arreguín

The enchanted world of Alfredo Arreguín

Artwork by Alfredo Arreguín
Text by Florangela Davila

An Alfredo Arreguín painting is unmistakably unique. Look at that thunderous palette; lose yourself in so much labyrinthine design.

Fish swim, birds soar, water jets. An Arreguín landscape teems with mosaics of lush activity.


"A Murder of Crows," 1990 48 x 60" Private collection
Painting by Alfredo Arreguín


The marvel of Arreguín’s artwork is how his brushstrokes straddle the actual world with a wondrous fantastical one.

“I just start painting and things happen,” says Arreguín, 81, who paints daily from a basement studio at his Seattle home. He’s been creating pattern painting since 1969, an artistic signature that can be traced back to his interest in the baroque architecture and the patterned floor tiles found in the churches of his native Mexico.



"Washingtonia," 1988 60 x 48" Collection of the Washington State Historical Society, State Capital Museum
Painting by Alfredo Arreguín

Arreguín’s canvases, the poet Tess Gallagher has written, “carry a dynamic implosion of life.” The marvel of Arreguín’s artwork is how his brushstrokes straddle the actual world with a wondrous fantastical one. The flora and fauna of a jungle, for example. Or, the Amazonian rainforest.

But as a Pacific Northwesterner for some 60 years, this region’s scenic beauty has unequivocally imprinted itself on his imagination.

“How could nature be ignored?” he asks. “How could it not be part of the menu of your mind?”

Here, then, is a sliver from the artist’s massive tome of work that has been heralded by the Smithsonian, the state of Washington and the government of Mexico.

As we envisioned this issue of Ampersand, nothing seemed more suitable in rousing us from the lethargy of winter and heralding spring than these enchanted images by Alfredo Arreguín.

  • Alfredo Arreguín

    Alfredo Arreguín, born in Michoacán,Mexico, has been living in Seattle for nearly 60 years. His paintings are part of the permanent collections of both the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery.