Jose Vives-Atsara was born April 13, 1919 in Vilafranca del Penedes near Barcelona, Spain. A native Spaniard, he developed a love of painting at an early age, and by age 11 had committed himself to becoming an artist. He studied at Colegio de San Ramon and had his first one-person show at age 14.
The Spanish Civil interrupted his idyllic young life as he was forced to serve in the Communist Army, and then was imprisoned, suffering many hardships.
Soon after the war he married Emilia Hill Domenech, and in 1947 set out to move with his wife and child aboard a tramp steamer to the United States. Unfortunately, immigration quotas did not allow them to move directly to the United States, and it was eight years before they achieved that goal. During this interim before obtaining temporary visas, he and his family lived first, in Caracas, Venezuela and then in Mexico City, Mexico.
The family settled in San Antonio, Texas, where he had made friends on a previous visit. He and his wife and children gained citizenship in time for their first Christmas in the United States. He became such an exemplary immigrant citizen that officials of the U.S. District Court for the Western District Court regularly invited him to share his thoughts and advice for living in America with newly naturalized citizens
Vives-Atsara also developed a close relationship with the Incarnate Word College, becoming, over the years, both a professor of art, and Artist in Residence. As a painter, he depicted many local scenes including San Antonio missions and the San Antonio River. For special guests such as Pope John Paul II, heads of state, and royalty from foreign countries, he was commissioned to provide paintings as gifts .
His paintings were also commissioned for Frost Bank and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. For his vibrant oil paintings, he used only nine colors, mixed in a variety of ways. They have been described as both realistic and impressionistic.
"Vives-Atsara believed that art is a reflection of the artist's soul, if this is true; his paintings reflect a beautiful, bright spirit." (Richardson) Jose Vives-Atsara died in San Antonio on January 13, 2004, and is buried there in Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum.