Artist Painter, Angel L Cruz Manso
Angel Luis Cruz Manso was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in December 1951. His family migrated to the United States when he was five years old and settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. He received his formal education in the public schools of NYC and, by the time he got to high school, he developed an appreciation for music and art. He attended Eli Whitney Vocational and Technical High School. In the tenth grade he started learning to play the trombone and a year later he was made a member of the high school orchestra. It wasn’t long before he began to play the trombone in Latin bands in the community.
After graduating high school the family moved back to Puerto Rico where he lived and worked for a year and a half. He worked as a machine operator in a shoe manufacturing company and learned that this line of work was not for him. He returned to New York City in 1971 and got a job as a teacher’s aide in a NYC public school. The job provided him with the opportunity to further his own education. Cruz began attending classes at New York City Community College where he majored in early childhood education. He also continued to take private music lessons while playing in local jazz and Latin dance bands performing on weekends in clubs throughout New York City. It was during this period of study that Cruz registered for elective art courses in art history, figure drawing and painting and his appreciation for the fine arts deepened. It was also during this time (1975) that he registered for and began attending training classes in the (Fu Jow Pai) Tiger Claw System of Chinese kung-fu. A practice he continues to the present day.
He completed the requirements for a BA in Early childhood Education (Grades K-12) in 1977. He used these credentials to teach Child Care Careers courses to young adults at High School Redirection, an alternative high school in Brooklyn, where by this time he worked as a teacher/counselor. At High School Redirection he also taught classes in English, Social Studies, and Art. He served as resident artist to the school and collaborated with other art teachers to produce the school’s yearbooks and other art related projects such as posters and stage scenery for high school plays and performances.
In the fall of 1980 Cruz did not return to teaching but began working for the New York State Office of Disability Determinations as a Social Security disability claims adjudicator. In the fall of 1981 he returned to Brooklyn College to pursue a post baccalaureate degree in fine arts. He continued taking art courses at night while still studying the trombone and playing small clubs on weekends. In addition he was attending training classes in the martial arts in Chinatown on weekdays and conducting kung-fu classes for children on weekends.
In the mid 1980’s Cruz felt he had to decide between a career in music and a career in art. He knew from personal experience that the life of a musician is a hectic one that involved working late nights, traveling and, especially, depending on the cooperation of other musicians. He decided that art, especially painting and sculpting, is a more solitary venue so he chose to become an artist and put his life as a musician aside. He was then able to focus his energy on completing the requirements for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He established a rapport with some of the art professors at Brooklyn College and continued to consult with them about the progress of his work after graduating.
He applied for admission to the Graduate Art Department at Brooklyn College in 1996 and was admitted to the program. From spring 1997 to spring 1998 he served as vice president of the Graduate Art Students Union (GASU) at Brooklyn College and in June 1999 he completed the requirements for the Master of Fine Arts degree.
At present Cruz is retired from state service and devotes his time to painting and a sculpting out of his studio in Brooklyn, New York City, USA. Through his work he expresses his connection to his ethnicity, his interests and his life’s experiences using a variety of media, including wood, stone, painting, etc., to produce his work. He exhibits his work whenever and wherever possible to gain exposure and experience as an artist.
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