Brothers Daniel and Manuel Padilla have been doing just about everything together their entire lives. They were born a year and a half apart, raised in the small town of Santa Rosa near McAllen, Texas, and went to the same college, too, even becoming roommates.
They began creating art at a very young age, receiving numerous art awards throughout high school and college, and both earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas—Pan American.
The brothers shared equal enthusiasm toward the same career path, being full-time artists. In 1995 they began their careers in Houston, Daniel as an art teacher and Manuel as a gallery assistant. They learned early on that they would have to take the plunge to become fulltime artists, and Daniel came on board to work alongside Manuel at the gallery.
Together, they strived to build a strong portfolio and résumé, and participated in major shows, like the New York International Art Expo in 2001 and the San Francisco International Art Expo in 2002. With immediate success, the duo decided to go independent and opened their very first gallery in 2002, DNM Art Group. The downfall of the economy in 2007 led the brothers to make the decision to move out of Houston in pursuit of success in other areas. Manuel landed a huge commission project with Driscoll Children’s Hospital in South Texas, while Daniel moved to New York City then Chicago. Finding the same depressed economy in the North, Daniel decided to move to Dallas in 2008. With Manuel still working on his ongoing commissions, Daniel opened the Daniel Padilla Gallery in the Bishop Arts District. To his surprise the Dallas economy was untouched and selling high-end art was viable once again.
“I told Manuel there was a huge opportunity in Dallas—I was doing so well here,” Daniel says. “There was a space available across the street from me, and I told him to come check it out. It became the Manuel Padilla Gallery.”
Manuel adds with a laugh, “We would have shows together!”
The pair left Bishop Arts in 2016, around the time rent started to rise and parking became difficult in the area—something they don’t have to worry about in their new location. “When we saw this spot, we thought it was really cool,” Daniel says. “Most of the businesses here are 9 to 5, so we have all the parking for our shows.” The Padilla Gallery is located one mile north of the Dallas Design District.
The Padillas were eager to open their own space again after closing their respective galleries to focus on being closer to the Design District. “We wanted to elevate our name, and we had to close down our galleries to go to the next level,” Daniel explains. “We’ve sold thousands of pieces, but people only have so many walls. It’s a constant chase for the next customer or commission.”
The duo continues to fulfill custom commissions all over the state. Daniel just completed a 14-by-17-foot, six-panel piece for an upscale residence in Dallas, but the brothers aren’t limited to just the metroplex. “We work all over—in some of the really big houses in Houston that are 6,000 to 10,000 square feet,” Daniel says. “Our art can look like 10 different people’s because our styles are so varied. We’ve filled up entire homes with our art.”
Both artists share an artistic fascination with positive emotional energy and spiritual light that is evident in all their works, either realistic or abstract. While working on their gallery presence, Manuel will also launch, very soon, his jewelry collection of semiprecious stones set in gold and silver, and the two are pursuing more commercial commissions as well.
Despite the brothers’ individuality, they have enough common ground that they have no problem speaking for one another—Daniel, being the more outgoing one, does most of the talking for the pair. They joke about keeping boxing gloves in the back room to settle brotherly disputes, but overall Daniel says: “We work really well together. We complement each other’s strengths.”
Alaena Hostetter is a Dallas-based journalist.