Reynaldo Manuel Terrazas-Santos was born in Berekely, California, of Hispanic and Native American heritage. His family retained their roots through their native languages, food and customs.
At 18 years old, Reynaldo began exploring the metal arts and creating forged sculpture in his father's small metalworks shop in Berkeley, CA.
“In 1960 my father had purchased the old Nielsen's ornamental ironworks that had been in business since the 1924. It was there that I experienced a significant moment in my life when I walked from the brightness of the day over the threshold into the darkness of the shop. Right then I knew that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When my father passed away I was able to buy the shop, with help of relatives, from his widow.
In my father's little shop there was an anvil and a forge that he never used. I resurrected it. I went to the Oakland library and checked out books on blacksmithing, as there were no blacksmiths to teach me the craft. I knew there was a historical connection with ironwork and forging. I started to use the forging technique in my sculpture. At this point in time there was nobody I knew of who was using forging in sculpture. I am self-taught.
My first connection with the art world was through books. I found a book on European sculptors. As I was turning the pages, I came upon forged sculptures that were done by a Spaniard named Eduardo Chillida. I was stunned, for this was the first time I saw someone that shared the same vocabulary in metal as I did. I felt that I wasn't alone and that he and I shared a common language. He helped me articulate a vocabulary in metal that set me on my journey. I loved that little shop. I loved living there. For a 19 year old having his own place, taking on the responsibilities of being self-employed, working my way through art school, and creating my art; this was difficult but there was no greater joy than following my path.”
Reynaldo Terrazas put himself through school, graduating with a degree in Fine Arts from the California College of the Arts. While creating and exhibiting sculpture, he founded The Griffin Company, hand-manufacturing artist’s printing presses for etching, intaglio and lithography processes. Terrazas’s mission was to provide a West Coast resource for affordable, aesthetic, and innovative presses. Griffin presses have been used by major artists and printing studios, and included in many prestigious academic program facilities. His iconic presses have been exhibited in the Venice Biennale (1968) and included in the Smithsonian Museum’s permanent collection.
Terrazas also completed commissions for large public projects, including decorative archways and gates, and He also manufactured artist-grade architectural details on commission.
The artist has exhibited his sculpture internationally since the 1960’s, and been included in shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Oakland Museum of Art. His work has been included in publications such as American Blacksmith.
Terrazas went on to meet and befriend his great inspiration, Spanish artist Eduardo Chillida, who inspired him to purchase and renovate a medieval building in Spain into a second home and studio. The studio is located in Horta de Sant Joan, near Barceliona, a small village where Picasso lived and worked. Terrazas and his wife, Jody Terrazas, joined a community of artists there led by his good friend, the Pop artist Mel Ramos.
Reynaldo Manuel Terrazas-Santos maintained his studio and practice in Oakland, California until his death in 2014. He is survived by his wife, Jody, and their daughters Juana, also an artist, and Rosa. He is remembered as a extraordinary Bay Area community member who inspired and supported the creative field, leaving behind a legacy of iconic contributions in the metal arts.