Even as a child, Julio knew he wanted to be an artist, and he drew constantly. His ever growing imagination was fueled by his family's tradition of telling what were often fantastical tales of his lineage, imbuing his childhood with wonder. "Beyond my parents, there exists an incredible family saga, transmitted to me around dinner tables and fireplaces one story at a time. Through those experiences, I learned that I come from a long line of Indians, witch-doctors, and bootleggers, a lineage that stretches out across Mexico, and the American Southwest. I suppose it was there with my family that I got what I really needed to be an artist. It was in family and hearth that I discovered what it meant to feel deeply about things - the ability to move and be moved by others. At that dinner table, my soul was built up and made larger with noble thoughts. I learned that there were sacred things in life, and that I should devote myself to knowing them".
By the time Julio was in high school his drawing skills were well developed. His teachers made note of his abilities, and encouraged him to pursue a life in the arts. It was about this time however that Julio was finding great success as an athlete. He excelled in soccer, and participated in tournaments all over the world. He was the youngest player on virtually every team he played for - only 16 years old when he toured through Europe, on a team of guys four years his elder. Reyes was also chosen for a select team of players from all over California, to participate in the famed Gothia Cup Tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden. With over 60 different nations participating, the tournament was, and still is, larger than the world cup. Their team proudly represented the United States in the championship game final, played in Ullevi Statium. Colleges were recruiting him with the promise of generous scholarships, but Julio made a surprising decision and turned them down. "I couldn't see myself being an athlete all my life. I remember very clearly, I was in the Louvre in France, with a group of soccer guys who really only had girls on the mind. As I looked around, I was overwhelmed with this tremendous sense of longing. It felt as though I was the only one who knew we were surrounded by splendor. I never felt further from my dreams. Later that night, in my sketchbook, I secretly drew as many works of art as I could remember. As if by doing so, I could catch up to lost time; there was this rush, to get to my true vocation...I knew then what needed to be done."
Julio enrolled in the Laguna College of Art and Design in the year 2000 and began painting with oils for the first time. He learned about art history and aesthetics, as well a classical approach to the materials and techniques of both painting and sculpture. It was here that he met and fell in love with his future wife, and artist, Candice Bohannon.
He now lives and works in a secluded Northern California studio with his artist wife. Speaking about her and the move, Reyes says "To say the least, she is the single most impressive person I've ever met and carries herself with calm dignity and a quiet intelligence. In our life together, nestled in the trees, amidst the quiet of the mountains, I have found the clarity to pursue what matters most to me."
Reyes is openly antagonistic towards the prevailing influence that Post-Modernism now enjoys over all aspects of art and culture; and sees it as antithetical to his values. On this he says, "There is a hidden melancholy in our time, undoubtedly linked to the cultural vacuum left in the wake of the post-modern so-called ethic. Before us, a new frontier, where all old truths have been torn down, and none replaced. It is my generation, who now sadly wander these badlands."
It is this kind of great conflict that gives added purpose to Julio's life's work. It can be felt in the types of scenes he chooses to depict; and it is the connective tissue that relates his private experiences with greater movements of our culture. His optimism lies in the human condition: that noble quest to better know ourselves and our place in the universe.
"For me, the most meaningful source of inspiration is the people, places, and things I know best. I have always been moved by the human capacity to love, dream, and persevere, with great courage and sincerity, in spite of a vast and un-sympathetic Nature. To a cynical art world this may sound silly; but to me it is one of the miracles, and beautiful mysteries of life.
My recent works speak with more authority because they tell the story of my life. There's this great feeling of anticipation, as though everything I've ever been and known will at some point play a role in my work. It's the hidden secrets in plain sight that I find so rewarding - all those layers of content and history that can't be faked and cannot be rushed. It's this kind of quality I'm after: the lasting impression, not the quick effect.
Art has become a means for me to measure the value of my experiences; to seek patterns and hidden purposes, and to delight in their fullest expression...this is more like an attitude and/or habit of mind. As a result I'm getting right to heart of things more quickly and without equivocation. My pictures are more about mystery and a sense of amplitude; and less about vagueness or ambiguity. As such I think people can relate to it. There's an almost haunting human warmth, and longing in it - relevant to any soul wary of the modern experience."
As for his role in this new and un-brave world, Julio states:
"Very simply, I want to create art for the rest of my life according to my highest calling and fullest abilities - all else stems from this really. If I can transmit, through my work, even the smallest semblance of the love and awe that I have for life - I will have truly done something...I want to look back on a life of meaningful and serious works of art. Art that stands against the growing nihilism of our time, and with fixed purpose celebrates the beauty and immensity of life."