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Valdez grew up in San Antonio, TX, was identified early on as a prodigy and was mentored by artist and educator Alex Rubio, with whom he worked on numerous murals. From Burbank High School, he went to Rhode Island School of Design on a full scholarship and graduated in 2000. In 2004 at age 26, he became the youngest artist in the McNay’s history to be granted a solo exhibition. Valdez is also the chair of Southwest School of Art’s painting and drawing program, which this year will take on B.F.A. candidates for the first time.